July 30, 2013

Why Hasn’t Abortion Become More Acceptable?

NPR ran a story this morning about how, particularly in the South, opposition to abortion has increased over the years. The story suggested that most people are ambivalent about abortion and can be influenced by various legislative proposals to restrict the practice if they seem consistent with, for example, the religious views of those people.

The report made me ask myself why acceptance of homosexuality has increased, whereas, at least in some areas, acceptance of abortion has decreased.

It is widely believed that the acceptability of homosexuality has been fueled by the increasing willingness of homosexuals to come out of the closet. It was easy to demonize a group of people that was largely invisible. That became much harder when people knew people who acknowledged their homosexual orientation. When you know friends, co-workers, or children who are homosexual and who otherwise seem to be good people, it becomes difficult to condemn them and others of their ilk.

Now, consider the class of women who have had abortions. How many women do you know who you know have had abortions? I don’t know any, although some high-profile women from time to time have admitted to having had an abortion. I suspect that women would have an easier time naming abortion clients, but I suspect that even women do not speak about their abortions any more than necessary.

There are no Abortion Pride parades. There are no I Had an Abortion T-shirts. I suspect that we will not be able to put the abortion fights behind us until women who have had abortions come out of the closet.


  1. I had an abortion and don't have any regrets. Times have changed but I believe I would make the same decision today. I did something totally stupid and would not burden a child with a poor future. I wonder if part of the abortion controversy is due to men losing control. Abortion kills their manhood.

  2. Sorry, Rev. Wilson, but it is none of your business. You don't know the circumstances which would have been very tragic. It was the only option as it is for a number of, tho not all, women. I don't like abortion but there are situations where it is by far the best option, especially for the fetus. I made peace with God. It was nobody's business but mine. Period. End. Of. Discussion.

  3. I think women don't speak of it and it hasn't become acceptable because there's almost always another option, having the child and giving it up. Rape, incest, and the mothers health--including mental health, only make up 5% of all abortions. I know a few women who've had them, none for any of those reasons and none because they were really too poor. One had three; it was her final birth control option. I know others who waited years to adopt. Also, as time has gone on and medicine has improved and the age when a fetus can survive gets earlier, the argument "It's not a person" or "It's ok because it couldn't survive anyway" gets weaker. I'm rather surprised at all the women who accept the huge number of abortions due to the fetus being female, but the pro-choice side doesn't want to give the others any ammunition.

    LGBT people were only accepted when they convinced people it was inherent; they're born that way. He's a lefty; she's a brunette; he's gay, etc. That argument can't be made with abortion. Find evidence that LGBT is due to "nurture" or "choice" and in some areas/communities acceptance of that will go down too.

    Chris H.

  4. I had considered the nature/choice distinction. At this point, I think we are not going back on the acceptance of homosexuals irrespective of what science may discover about homosexuality. The reality is that homosexual persons generally do not perceive that their sexuality is a choice.

    I find it curious that “viability” really means “viability with extraordinary medical intervention.” We don’t insist on heroic medical intervention to save adults. Why do we insist on it for fetuses?

  5. Pseudopiskie:

    If you don't want discussion of your "decision" and it's nobody's business but yours, I would suggest you keep your business to yourself and don't post it on a public blog.

  6. Why in one hospital room are parents spending a million dollars to treat congenital defects in their unborn child while in another a fetus the same age is thrown away? Because of the mother's wish. If it's wanted, it's valuable; if it's not.... Do we tell all women that because it's just a fetus no medical procedures can be done to save them? I know a couple of nurses who've quit jobs because they couldn't stand the dichotomy. I also know a man who wanted the child but the mother aborted it. Equal rights for men don't exist, unless it's the right to pay child support.

  7. I think the discussion here suggests and answer to your question. If one believes (as I do, full disclosure) that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, then it is a very grave matter indeed. Sexual sins are nowhere nearly so serious (unless, of course, they are coupled with violence or abuse of the helpless). I don't know that t-shirts will bridge that difference. Every society tolerates some degree of sexual transgression; few of us are entirely innocent of it, to some degree or other. But tolerance rarely extends to what is considered the wrongful taking of life.

  8. Of course, many do not believe “that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being.” I would argue that a potential human being is no more a human being than a sheet of steel is an automobile. Ultimately, this issue is a matter of faith; no argument can really be definitive.

  9. Lionel

    Thanks for the two articles you posted, I read them and found them quite interesting. Here's one for you to read:


  10. I have known about Humanae Vitae since it was first proclaimed, but I had never read it. I am glad that I now have. It makes me so grateful that I am not Roman Catholic. I could write a book about what is wrong with this encyclical. I reject the authority of the Pope to determine doctrine alone. The advice he was given was anything but uniform, but the Pope gets to spin it however he likes. The encyclical fails to address sex outside of marriage, which, even if you oppose, happens. It does not acknowledge that women have sexual desires. I reject the use of natural law, which, in this case, is simply what the Pope chooses to believe. I reject the notion that married couples have an obligation to procreate. If one acknowledges a legitimate right to plan children but we cannot use science to help, why can we use science or technology to do anything? (Why is not disease not a product of God’s will with which we should not interfere?) The argument makes no sense. I reject the notion of using fear of potential pregnancy to discourage infidelity. I reject the notion that an evil act can never be used to achieve a greater good. (It was a supremely moral act to attempt to assassinate Hitler.) I am amazed at the lack of scripture to support the substance of the encyclical. Scripture is used primarily to claim authority.

  11. I have posted this before - Those who call themselves pro-life should read Dr. Trefil and Dr. Moskowitz’s classic book The Facts of Life to understand the science behind human development. It is not clear at all that a fetus equals a human being until the 3rd trimester – certainly the 2nd trimester is a gray area and in the 1st trimester the fetus clearly does not equal a full human being. Roe v. Wade basically agrees – with the state being able to regulate abortion in the 3rd trimester. Christians viewing from 30,000 feet a woman making the agonizing decision to terminate a pregnancy and declaring her “selfish” strike me as arrogant, ignorant theological busybodies. But most of all in America the anti-choice side should realize that constitutional rights are not up for a vote. It doesn’t matter what the majority thinks of our religion or of a woman’s right to choose for herself when and if to bring a child into the world. The majority opinion (whether pro-choice or pro-life) means absolutely nothing. Zero. An Dr. Deimel is absolutely right - I too have read Humanae Vitae and it is stunning how bad it is.

    Bob Button

  12. "...in the 1st trimester the fetus clearly does not equal a full human being."

    Would that science could in fact tell us what a human being is. Everyone appeals to science, but whether someone is human is no more a scientific question than whether an act is a crime. What is decisive, DNA or consciousness? Dependence or relationship? Right or power? Breath or a human brain?

    How far does "the least of these" extend?

    I very much doubt whether there's much point in arguing these issues. I simply came by to suggest an answer to the question posed, why this issue seems more intractable than most. For Catholics the Second Vatican Council has re-affirmed that abortion remains an "abominable crime." Obviously our ordinary cliche for toleration is of no help here: "Live, and let live."

  13. Your own rationale:
    "It was easy to demonize a group of people that was largely invisible."
    undercuts your flawed logic for why support for abortion is declining.

    Unborn babies are "largely invisible" in the womb. But when pregnant women are given an opportunity to see their babies (and there is a living human baby, a person, there) many "find it difficult to comdemn" that baby to being torn apart limb from limb or being burned to death with saline solution or being forcibly expelled from the womb, still breathing and struggling to live, by abortion by induced labor, or being stabbeed in the base of the skull with scissors and having their brain vacuumed out.

    Of course your perspective is somewhat skewed when the dean of Episcopal Divinity School, Katherine Ragsdale, calls abortion "a blessing". I guess she just hasn't gotten to know many of "invisible" babies.

    1. Making the fetus “visible” is a cynical, manipulative strategy meant to appeal to the mother’s emotions, not her intellect. The shape of the fetus has little to do with its commonality (or lack thereof) with what everyone would agree is a human being.

  14. "I reject the use of natural law, which, in this case, is simply what the Pope chooses to believe."

    Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! You are Correct, Sir!


    Re ChrisH: "Because of the mother's wish. If it's wanted, it's valuable; if it's not...."

    YES, and God bless. See re the 2 Samuel 12: why was it a crime to kill *one* lamb, out of the thousands of lambs sacrificed in the temple? Because THAT lamb was ***chosen*** and beloved: no other reason.

    [Obviously, this is not an argument that an animal rights person could endorse, but a first trimester fetus is certainly LESS sentient than a lamb!]


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