Helping Women With Drug, Alcohol Addiction Shouldn’t Include Promoting Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 5, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Helping Women With Drug, Alcohol Addiction Shouldn’t Include Promoting Abortion

by Maria Vitale Editorial Columnist
June 5, 2009 Note: Maria Vitale is an editorial opinion columnist for She is the Public Relations Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and Vitale has written and reported for various broadcast and print media outlets, including National Public Radio, CBS Radio, and AP Radio.

While driving in traffic one day, I was surprised to see a bus ad featuring a pregnant woman. The ad promoted something called the "Baby Love" program. Curious, I later searched the World Wide Web and discovered that the program is funded by my Pennsylvania county’s commission on drugs and alcohol.

The program’s services run the gamut, and include referrals to addiction programs, housing help, parenting and life skills assistance, coordination of medical and dental services, referrals to legal services, and educational and vocational assistance.

It seems to me that, in this case, "Baby Love" is synonymous with "Mommy love."

In other words, concrete efforts are being made to protect the well-being of the preborn child by assisting the child’s mother.

All too often, people see drugs and alcohol as reasons why women should seek abortions. No one wants to see a baby born with an addiction, or with mental and physical handicaps directly related to a mother’s substance abuse. Yet, isn’t a more compassionate approach to treat the addiction, rather than kill the child?

Research indicates that women are more likely than men to start abusing drugs and alcohol in response to traumatic events, such as physical or sexual abuse, sickness, and family strife.

As researcher Priscilla Coleman noted, "It is clear that women who abuse substances are more likely to have suffered from multiple past and current challenging life situations and there is emerging evidence that women use substances as a means of coping more frequently than men."

Pregnant women often face a multitude of problems which are daunting, complex, and physically and emotionally draining. However, it is entirely possible that they can rise to meet these challenges–and even conquer them–with the right kind of support.

Abortion is not an answer to addiction. Treatment is. With appropriate assistance, women who’ve been haunted by substance abuse in the past can be caring, effective mothers.

As the post-abortive women of the Silent No More Awareness campaign have said, abortion doesn’t solve problems–it only creates different ones–ones that can lead to additional drug and alcohol abuse. Studies, in fact, show a link between abortion and substance abuse. In fact, women who have had abortions are two to five times more likely to be at risk for substance use compared to women who have not had abortions.

When we offer an addicted woman an abortion, we are running the risk of doubling her emotional pain. Abortion does not mean an automatic end to the vicious cycle of addiction, guilt, and self-punishment. Chances are it will only deepen her wound.

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