Ireland voted on May 25 to repeal their Eighth Amendment with respect to abortion by a 2:1 margin. Sadly, with this vote, it looks as though Ireland has joined the rest of the EU countries in taking a giant leap backwards toward a slippery slope, allowing abortion on demand, all in the name of “progress.”
Until the May 25 vote, Ireland recognized the “living without birth” of the unborn which were protected by constitutional amendment. The Irish repeal now reads: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn [emphasis added] and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
Irish abortion advocates claim that the move is needed to protect the lives and well-being of women. But instead, legalizing abortion now means abandoning and harming mothers as well as ending the lives of their unborn children. Regrettably, all too often the facts are ignored.
1.Studies Find Abortion Increases Women’s Risk of Premature Death
Large scale record-based studies from the United States, Finland and Denmark have found that overall death rates were higher among women following abortion compared to women who had given birth. Most recently, a systematic review of the medical literature, published last year, found that each induced abortion a woman undergoes increases her risk of premature death by 50 percent or more.
2. Experts Say Abortion Does Not Save Women’s Lives
More than 1000 medical professionals and researchers in Ireland have signed the Dublin Declaration on Maternal Healthcare, which states: “As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.
We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child. We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.”
3. Multiple Studies Find Increased Risk of Mental Health Problems After Abortion
In 2011, a review published in the British Journal of Psychiatry looked at the combined results of all studies on abortion’s mental health impact that were published between 1995 and 2009 and met strict inclusion criteria. The resulting analysis included 877,181 women from six countries.
The review found that 10 percent of mental health problems among women, including 35 percent of suicidal behaviors, may be attributable to abortion. Women who aborted were 81 percent more likely to experience mental health problems compared to all other control groups, and 55 percent more likely to have problems compared to women who delivered an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. Another 2016 study, using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health in the United States, found that women who had abortions were more likely to be at increased risk of mental health disorders.
4. Studies Find Abortion Has No Benefits, But Does Have Risks
While abortion advocates claim that abortions benefit women who don’t plan to be pregnant, a meta-analysis combining the results of eight studies of women who experienced unwanted pregnancies, published in 2013, concluded that “there is no available evidence to suggest that abortion has therapeutic effects in reducing the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy.”
5. Women Are At Risk for Unwanted and Coerced Abortions
Research and anecdotal evidence shows that for many pregnant women or girls, abortion is presented as the only answer, especially if they are young, struggling financially, unmarried, disabled, abused, or in any other way seen as unready to have a child. Those whom the woman relies on for support or advice may insist that abortion is her only option and refuse to support any other decision. She may face the real possibility of losing her partner, family, home, livelihood or education. In some cases, she may even be assaulted or killed for refusing to abort.
Approximately 54 million abortions were performed worldwide in 2014 (most frequent data year). Only seven of 59 countries allow elective abortions after 20 weeks: Canada, China, Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
In the U.S., approximately 1.1 million abortions are performed every year. In 2014, there were 32,675 deaths on American highways; to bring this further into focus, every 11 days, that same number (32,675) abortions are performed in the U.S.
The debate over legalized abortion has been heated and emotional for decades. The crucial question in the debate, lies in the question of when life begins. For me, it is enough to believe the scientific fact that every abortion performed in the U.S. is performed on a being fully formed with a heart beating and brain activity on an EEG machine – at 12 weeks, an unborn baby is only about two inches long, yet every organ of the human body is clearly in place – and that baby grows, with viability now at approximately 21 weeks.
I often ask how can I advance life in today’s world. Whether it’s here in the U.S., or around the world, here’s a few suggestions: (1) Since I know personally the significant health risks for those choosing abortion, I can help make it clear the potential risks for substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and mental health problems leading to suicide. (2) I can be consistent in supporting adoption as well as standing against abortion, caring for the family as a whole. (3) I can respond to those who have chosen abortion with truth and grace.
Someone asked me whether abortion would be a moral choice when a family has fourteen children, living in extreme poverty, with another child on the way – it happened – that child was John Wesley.
Would abortion be a moral choice when a father is ill, mother has tuberculosis, the first child is blind, the second child deceased, the third born deaf, and the fourth has tuberculosis – with another child on the way – that son would be called Beethoven.
In closing, I want to share a testimony a friend shared with me:
For 35 years, I kept my teenage abortion a secret. No one was ever supposed to know. Not my parents, my extended family, my children – no one would ever know because I would carry this secret with me to my grave.
I certainly didn’t want the people in my church to know, the people I sat in pews with and sang in choirs with and whose children I cared for in nurseries. How would they ever understand the terrible thing I had done? I was convinced that they wouldn’t, because I was certain that nothing as ugly as abortion had ever crossed their perfect paths.
Only, I was wrong. Someone who looked like me, and lived like me, and who worshiped like me stood up at the front of my church one Sunday morning and testified about the truth of her abortion, her secrets and the tangled web of lies she spun around herself. She spoke about the burden of keeping a really big secret that she was really ashamed about and that she regretted with all her heart. She spoke about the same secrets I carefully hid under my smooth, I’ve-got-it-all-together façade.
I remember she said, through her calm tears, that she had never even given her baby a chance. And that’s when something I thought I had long ago buried began to be resurrected in me. It was through watching her peaceful countenance – while confessing an ugly truth about herself – and listening to her speak about healing and forgiveness, that I began to understand that even the sin of abortion can come into the light of day through genuine confession and repentance – and that Christ could forgive me and begin to heal the shame I had lived with for so long.
I knew I wanted her peace, and I believed for the first time in my life that it was even possible. I wanted to be free from the self-inflicted punishment and panic that I lived with any time the topic of abortion came up in conversation. If it was really possible to dig up my hidden secret and offer it once and forever to Jesus to completely forgive, if I could then live in such a way that abortion no longer occupied that deepest, guiltiest spot in my heart – then I was interested.
And so I began a post-abortion bible study at my church, walking on a path that others had trod, to light and truth and healing. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t a quick fix. It was a trail of tears that went deeper and deeper into dark places before I reached the clearing and the view opened up to the promise I had hoped for. It was led by post-abortive women who understood first-hand about the awful truth we have ingested because we swallowed the lies dished up by an abortion-peddling culture – and spoon-fed to us by our own selfish selves.
Through the bible study, I found the courage to ask my own baby for forgiveness. I was able to dignify his short life by giving him a name, and by a grief poured out in his memory, such as I had never allowed myself the freedom to experience before. It was hard, and it was ever so healing. I went through the lessons with the other women and we helped each other and we held each other. We were members in the largest women’s club that nobody wants to admit belonging to.
One day I will hold my precious baby in my arms, and we will have those tender times together that should have been ours those many years ago. The tears that we will shed, as we embrace for the first time, will be free from regret and shame and recrimination. They will spill over us with a cleansing flow, sweet and refreshing from Christ’s well of living water.
I’m really thankful for the testimony that shattered my secret world that Sunday morning, and set me on a path to honesty and healing. I am certain that there are many others sitting in pews and office cubicles and at kitchen tables, who are silent and broken and suffering.
I have gone from expecting to die with my secret, to opening up and letting go of it in the most public way that I never dreamed of. Now I expect to really live in openness and honesty, forgiven and set free. Thank you, Jesus!
“Sweeter even than to have had the joy of children of my own has it been for me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.” – Susan B. Anthony