As we approach the 47th anniversary of the tragic U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade, some may be wondering why we persist to try to protect every human life, from conception to natural death. Wouldn’t it be better, these individuals say, to just draw a line at abortions after the first trimester of pregnancy? In fact, some people wrongly believe that Roe itself bans abortions after 12 weeks gestation.
But when Roe is considered with its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, the ruling actually allows for abortions for any reason or no reason during all nine months of pregnancy. That is how we have ended up with states such as New York passing bills lifting all restrictions on abortion.There is no doubt that second and third trimester abortions are especially heinous, given what we know about the development of the preborn child. But every abortion ends an innocent, irreplaceable human life.If we were to pass a law banning abortions after the first trimester in most of the states, chances are that that would effectively end the national dialogue on abortion. We would be closing the door to future abortion restrictions.What’s more, the majority of preborn babies would not be protected, since most abortions occur in the first trimester.
For instance, in Pennsylvania, of the 30,364 abortions which occurred in the Commonwealth in 2018, 26,404 occurred at less than 13 weeks gestation.Imagine passing a law against abortion—and still, 26,404 children would lose their precious lives!It is true that the pro-life movement has been successful in an incremental, or step by step, approach to restricting abortion. For instance, laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, and 24-hour-waiting periods have decreased in abortions.
In Pennsylvania, the Abortion Control Act, which contained such restrictions, succeeded in cutting the abortion rate in half.Our goal as a pro-life movement is not to end abortions after the first trimester. Our goal is to ensure that each individual child is welcomed in life and protected under the law. When it comes to common ground or consensus, the point of agreement we should be aiming for is to help people see the humanity of the preborn child at all its stages of development.
We should also work to assist people to understand the vast help and resources that are available to pregnant women in difficult circumstances.Helping all preborn children and helping all pregnant women — that’s where our consensus should lie.
Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director
Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation