Never before has the abortion conversation been so prevalent in the news. With the questions surrounding the Supreme Court decision and what the country will look like post-Roe, we’re seeing heightened aggression and intensity as people voice their opinions. Many cultural narratives are fueled by fear that the government will remove rights and restrict healthcare which will ultimately harm individuals. Let’s take a closer look at some of the loudest narratives we hear today and how they align with the truth.
Abortion Is Healthcare
If you care about women’s health, then you should provide abortion, or so we’re told. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists claims that, “abortion is an essential component of women’s health care.”1 Women today are told that abortion is completely safe and necessary as part of women’s health coverage.2
Shockingly, 84 percent of women say they weren’t sufficiently informed before their abortion procedure.3 Likewise, 67 percent of women did not receive any counseling prior to their abortion.4 Today, 54 percent of abortions occur with abortion drugs,5 increasingly taken without oversite of a medical professional. These pills can be mailed directly to someone’s home, where an abortion takes place in total isolation and the woman may never be informed about the risks and complications that may occur. Despite these numbers, abortion advocates remain firm in their positions.
The confidence of pro-choice advocates may seem convincing, but international studies reveal a very different story. The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research believes some of the risks found in international studies are ignored in America due to the political nature of the issue.6 We should be informed of these real health risks and become advocates for women to truly protect their current and future health.
Risks to Women’s Health that abortion advocates ignore include:
- The British Journal of Psychiatry7 published a study that found that “women who had an abortion were 81% more likely to experience mental health struggles.” This includes a 37 percent rise in depression, 110 percent increase in alcohol abuse, and a 155 percent risk of suicide.
- In the US, suicide rates are six times higher for women who had an abortion.8
- Abortion can increase the risk for cervical cancer.9
- After four abortions, there is a 266 percent risk of ovarian cancer10 but the risk decreases when a woman has a full-term pregnancy.11
- Risk of breast cancer increases by 44 percent after one abortion, 75 percent after two, and climbs to 90 percent risk after three abortions.12
- The risk of preterm birth after one abortion is between 25 to 27 percent and increases to 51 to 62 percent after two or more abortions.13 Research14 recognizes that preterm birth also increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Maternal death increases significantly in late-term abortions. 15America is only one of seven countries that allow elective abortion after twenty weeks due to the known health risks to women.16
These risks can be reduced simply by carrying a pregnancy to term. For example, one of the best ways to protect a woman from reproductive cancers is to give birth. “Researchers have found that a full-term pregnancy resulting in childbirth seems to provide a protective effect for women against cancers of the reproductive system.”17Contrary to what those in the pro-choice camp say, abortion does not preserve the dignity of women by protecting their health. Rather, abortion actually increases the risk of many adverse health conditions in a woman’s life.
Abortion Empowers Women
The assumption from many abortion advocates is that a child will hinder the ability for the mother to thrive as a person. The child could obstruct educational goals, career advancement, or financial aspirations. If motherhood is seen as oppressive and unnatural, then abortion is necessary to maintain freedom and ensure a woman can fulfill her dreams. Pro-abortion research group, The Guttmacher Institute, found that most women choose abortion because they are fearful of the future and believe their child will hinder their success.18 But what if women were supported to parent and thrive?
Heartbeat International found that 79 percent of women who had abortions were never informed of resources available if they were to choose life.19 Empowerment doesn’t include limiting information and resources from women. We don’t believe empowerment means telling people to allow their future to be defined by their present situation – and yet 73 percent of abortions20 occur due to current economic instability.
The reality is that many women feel victim to their present situation, not empowered to overcome it. Their decision process is highly nuanced and influenced by financial, relational, and practical fears of an uncertain future. Abortion does not eliminate fear. Nor does it rescue women from harmful circumstances—including intimate partner violence, human trafficking, or poverty. Rather than empowering women, abortion tends to hide abuse and keep women hurting in isolation.
It’s “My Body, My Choice” and Men Don’t Matter
The mantra that has dominated the conversation since 1973 implies that women have total control over their bodies. Yet staggeringly, 74 percent of women say they felt pressured21 into choosing abortion. How many women choose abortion because culture tells them they should? Or maybe parents, friends, and even partners claim this isn’t a good time for a baby. Perhaps the mother questions how she can survive if she hasn’t figured out how to provide for herself yet.
As mentioned above, many women end up feeling like they have no other option. Their world is too chaotic and uncertain. They feel as though there is no other choice, something profoundly ironic coming from the camp which claims to champion choice.
Additionally, this slogan also implies that men don’t matter. Their desire to parent a child should be suppressed to support the woman’s decision – whatever it is. Yet 61 percent of women22 say that the father’s voice was who they considered most when choosing an abortion. Which should alert us to the fact that women do care about what the father thinks, otherwise she wouldn’t talk to him about it. Men should be strengthened to stand for life. Just because they don’t carry the pregnancy doesn’t mean they aren’t invested.
Pro-Lifers Don’t Care About Women, They’re Just “Pro-Birth”
How can people claim to be pro-life if they don’t care for the circumstances the child is born into? This challenge would be valid if it were true. However, the reality is pro-life organizations are profoundly generous to women, men, and children, ensuring they can flourish.
According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute,23roughly two million individuals were supported through pregnancy resource centers across America in 2019. These centers offer their resources at no cost – an estimated value of $270 million. Pregnancy centers also provided nearly half a million free ultrasounds and up to two years of support after the birth of the child. In fact, there are more pregnancy clinics than abortion facilities in America, and yet so little of their work reaches the spotlight.
Through the local pregnancy center, women receive free ultrasounds and pregnancy tests, material resources and parenting classes, counseling and after-abortion healing. Additionally, pregnancy center staff connect women to local and federal aid to help them overcome their current economic pressures.
Other organizations like Let Them Live24 temporarily support women in economic crises to ensure they gain financial freedom and stability. Another example is Rainn.org, which is focused on helping vulnerable women find alternative housing to gain freedom and healing from abuse.
Brienda’s story from Save the Storks is a perfect example of how pregnancy centers truly empower women holistically. She decided that she would no longer be victim to abuse and chose a better life for herself in order to give her children a better life.
Opportunities to Care
The loud and dominating cultural narratives we’ve discussed above ultimately marginalize the humanity of women. These messages pressure women, ignore their intelligence, and feed off the fear and insecurities that arise from an unplanned pregnancy. Rather than allowing circumstances to define one’s life, we should advocate for creative and sustainable solutions.
Holistic care for women, men, and children includes caring for the economic and practical stress they face. It means ensuring they receive counseling, education, and material resources to navigate their options before making a decision. It includes walking alongside people when they feel alone and ensuring they know they are not. It requires sacrificial, compassionate love. The kind of love that we’ve only ever experienced by gazing at Jesus, the one who so holistically meets us exactly where we are but never leaves us as we came.
Natasha Smith is the co-author of Unplanned Grace: A Compassionate Conversation on Life and Choice. Over the last five years she’s served the pro-life movement across the country by telling true stories of women who were empowered for life through local pregnancy centers. Her academic background is in communications and biblical theology and is currently seeking a Masters in Old Testament from Denver Seminary. Her love for the pro-life cause is grounded in the understanding that all life has value because every life is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27).