Looking at abortion facts and figures Print
Living and Learning
Thursday, Feb. 05, 2009 -- 1:00 AM
Living and Learning column by Msgr. Daniel T. Ganshert

Parish signing campaigns against the proposed Freedom of Choice Act are ongoing in our diocese. These campaigns also are allowing the people of the Diocese of Madison to voice their concerns related to second-trimester abortions performed at the Madison Surgery Center.

Finding the following comments from Mr. Joseph Collison, director of the pro-life office for the Diocese of Norwich, Conn., to be helpful, I want to share them with you by means of this column because the numbers are frightening.

Mr. Collison states that every fourth baby conceived in the United States is deliberately destroyed in our nation's busy abortion businesses. Every day 3,500 developing babies are killed. Almost 1.5 million are killed every year. Our nation has the highest abortion rate in the Western world, and half of the American mothers seeking abortions have already aborted at least one child before.

Misleading poll questions

In a Harris Poll widely reported by the media, 52 percent of Americans said they support Roe vs. Wade, which was described by the poll as "the U.S. Supreme Court decision making abortions up to three months of pregnancy legal."

Of course the question was intentionally misleading, as were the news media's reports of the poll. If the poll had been honestly worded, the majority would have opposed most abortions, but the deliberately deceptive question described Roe as the decision "making abortions up to three months of pregnancy legal."

In the United States abortion is legal up to -- and, with partial-birth abortion, past -- the moment of birth. In the Harris Poll in which the majority claimed to support Roe vs. Wade, 71 percent said abortion should not be legal in the second three months of pregnancy, and 86 percent said that abortion should not be legal in the last three months of pregnancy.

Further education needed

A majority of Americans claim that they do not personally support abortion, but they do support Roe because abortion should be legal "during the first three months" and "for serious reasons." But a majority of Americans are unaware that Roe does not limit abortion to "serious reasons."

Although a few limits were imposed by Roe, on the same day those limits were stripped away by Roe's companion decision Doe vs. Bolton, which said that abortion is legal up to the moment of natural birth for a variety of reasons, serious and frivolous (such as "a woman's feeling of well-being").

Americans who do not support late-term abortions for reasons of convenience are deliberately misled about the law. A survey conducted by Princeton University for the Center for Gender Equality found that only 30 percent support abortion on demand, and even that number is questionable. In cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, only 34 percent support abortion. According to Planned Parenthood's Alan Guttmacher Institute, "rape" or "incest" are listed as the reason for fewer than one percent of abortions. "Mothers' health" is used to justify fewer than three percent of abortions, and the "health problems" are rarely identified and never questioned.

'Justifying' abortion

So what reasons are used to justify the remaining 95 percent? Most often mentioned are the mother "is unready for a baby," she "can't afford a baby," or she "thinks a baby could change her life." Another 20 percent "are not mature enough" or "have all the children they want."

Even these figures would change with further education. In a Zogby Poll, 61 percent of Americans said abortion should not be permitted after the fetal heart begins to beat. Obviously, few were aware that the fetal heart begins to beat at the end of the third week of gestation. That is before many women begin to suspect they might be pregnant. The beating heart is the first thing that can be seen on a sonogram.

The news media's report of the poll figures was deliberately disingenuous, not only contrary to what Americans really believe but contrary to fact. Americans are repeatedly assured that abortion is "rare" and "safe," but over 50 million abortions since Roe vs. Wade is not "rare." And medical statistics prove that abortion is never "safe."

Msgr. Daniel Ganshert is the vicar general for the Diocese of Madison.