In gatherings across the nation at the beginning of this month, abortion advocates vowed they would not “go back” to the days when it was not yet legal to kill children in the womb.
As in most things, the way we see the current Supreme Court abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health and what it might portend for our nation is a matter of perspective. Those of us who recognize that what has gone on these last nearly 49 years is a crime against humanity see the end of abortion as a big step forward for the USA.
But you don’t even have to be pro-life to see that much has changed since 1973, when an imaginary right to abortion was conjured from the U.S. Constitution.
Society has moved forward. Science has moved forward. The law has moved forward. And the culture has moved forward.
Let’s start with the culture.
Unmarried women having children was long a cultural taboo, but that is no longer the case. Up to 40% of babies born now are born to mothers who are not married.
At the time of Roe v. Wade, the number was only 13%. Unmarried moms are represented at all education levels.
We love our celebrities in this country, and many unmarried star couples had children long before they recited their wedding vows, if they ever did.
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Culture also has caught up to the fact that we are all “wonderfully made,” as Scripture asserts, no matter our race or size or ability levels.
We seem to cheer the loudest for those who not only overcome serious disabilities but also humble us with their achievements, like the Paralympians or the veteran who competed on “Dancing with the Stars” after losing an arm above the elbow and a leg below the knee.
Society has moved forward where women are concerned.
In the 1970s, 43% of women 16 and older worked outside the home. By 2020, women held 50% of American jobs, excluding farm workers.
Pre-pandemic and during the administration of President Donald Trump, women’s unemployment rate was the lowest it had been in nearly 70 years. Many of those working women are also mothers. Some, of course, are compelled by economics but many work because they want to work.
The development of the internet since Roe has brought about remote employment and education opportunities that simply did not exist then. Moreover, the network of pregnancy centers providing alternatives to abortion was just at its inception in 1973; now, however, the number of pregnancy centers outnumbers the abortion facilities in America by about four to one.
Science also has moved on since Roe v. Wade. Roe itself, first of all, ignored literally hundreds of years of scientific development that made it quite clear that a unique human life begins at fertilization.
Ultrasound, although developed in the late 1950s, did not become a routine part of pre-natal care until the 1980s, years after Roe had already ushered in the era of abortion on demand. But science has moved way past ultrasound; with embryoscopy, we can see life inside the womb from just a few weeks into pregnancy.
And as the journal “Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy” will tell you, once we can see the child, we can diagnose the child. Hence, we have seen the development of fetal surgery. At the time of Roe, the medical text “Williams” Obstetrics was in its 14th edition; now it is in its 25th.
Things have changed. And make no mistake, this is human life, a fact that has only grown clearer.
The law has also moved forward. Unlike at the time of Roe, we now have “Safe Haven Laws” in all 50 states, whereby a baby can be safely and legally left at a designated location (hospital, fire house, police station) if a mom feels she cannot raise that child.
Moreover, anti-discrimination laws for pregnant moms have multiplied, as have provisions for child support and paid family leave.
In short, as many of the amicus briefs in the Dobbs case are arguing, these changes argue against the Supreme Court’s assertion, made in Roe and repeated in subsequent abortion decisions, that women need abortion in order to take their rightful place in society.
Roe is not only immoral and unconstitutional; it is obsolete. Allowing states to protect the unborn is not about “going back;” it’s about acknowledging how much we have moved forward.