Abortion is a “poor choice”

New website reaches through the rhetoric, reaches out to women.

I’ve been writing a lot about abortion lately.

Maybe it’s because this year is the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, or because the Supreme Court recently rejected Norma McCorvey’s request to review that decision. Maybe it’s because I’ve become very interested in women’s issues, and several studies have come out recently showing how badly abortion hurts women.

Whatever the reason, it occurs to me that whenever I write a series like this, it must be very difficult for women who have had abortions -- to open the paper and see the issue they’re trying to forget staring them in the face yet again. Some of them, I’m sure, have come to grips with the enormity of that “choice”, and have forgiven themselves and moved on. Others may still be grappling with it – or trying not to grapple with it. I know there are millions of women out there who are trying to justify their decision by self-identifying as “pro-choice”, trying to keep the pain at arms length, and trying desperately to keep themselves together. I realize that women like this take the abortion debate very personally. Accusations, mud slinging, name-calling – this debate isn’t often pretty. We’re angry, and much of our anger is justified. But we forget that we’re fighting this battle right in the midst of millions of women who have experienced abortion personally, and who still bear the scars. In our frustration over the issue, many of us say (or write) things that we don’t intend to be hurtful, but wind up stinging anyway.

I also realize that many of these women read Catholic newspapers.

And no, I didn’t receive a lot of letters – or even one letter – from post-abortive women or anyone else telling me this. These women don’t tend to speak up. They keep it all inside. 

This is why I’m so enthralled with the work of Dr. David Reardon. Dr. Reardon is director of the Elliot Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching the effects of abortion on women and society. In the midst of a world where the rights of unborn children are pitted against the “rights” of their mothers, Dr. Reardon goes to the heart of the matter and addresses the real devastation mothers experience when they exercise their so-called “right to choose.”

This is a man who cares deeply about the welfare of women.

In my last columns, I wrote about the studies Dr. Reardon has released on the harm abortion inflicts on women. In this column, I want to tell you what he’s doing about it.

Dr. Reardon has just unveiled his new web site, www.poorchoice.org. On that site, he documents what abortion does to women – emotionally and physically. He offers resources for healing, and in-depth discussion of the politics and the rhetoric of the pro-abortion movement.

Personally, I think this whole idea is a stroke of brilliance. It has been the (very successful) strategy of those promoting abortion to avert attention from abortion itself and to instead focus on “choice.” The abortion procedure is messy and distasteful to even the most avid advocate. They knew they could never win over the average American by focusing on that. So they coined the vague term “pro-choice.” That way the emphasis is on freedom and self-determination and all of those American virtues we love so much. And we don’t have to look at what’s being chosen.

Until now.

Studies show that most Americans, even those who support abortion, don’t likeabortion, but accept it as a “necessary evil” because it helps women. Focusing on the “choice” element allows them to avoid the reality of abortion while still remaining politically correct. They don’t have to think too deeply. 

But when we start to talk about a poor choice, we subtly shift the debate. We’ve met them where they are – in the realm of “choice.” But we begin to examine that which is being chosen. Does abortion really help women? Does killing their children inside their bodies really advance their lives in any meaningful way? Are there better, more compassionate choices available to women?

And the real beauty of this concept is that “poor choice” is so close, linguistically, to “pro-choice.” Once we start to use this terminology, the two will become intermingled in the mind. Even those who are adamantly “pro-choice” will at times get confused and use the term “poor choice” instead. It’ll be impossible to think about one without thinking about the other – and thinking about the welfare of the women who are doing the “choosing.”

So I want to encourage you all to check out Dr. Reardon’s web site at www.poorchoice.org. Read it. Learn about what he’s up to.

And then start using the terminology. Talk about “poor choice” whenever abortion is discussed. Implant the notion into people’s brains.

I really think it’ll make a difference – to unborn children, to their mothers, and to those women still haunted by the memory of their “choices.”