The “Dignity” of Abortion

The “pro-choice” movement pits women against their own bodies.

I liked listening to the radio on January 22nd. I couldn’t be at the rally in Washington D.C., but at least I knew it was happening. Every newsbreak I heard featured a live spot from the event. Of course, the facts were a bit blurred. I kept hearing that there were “tens of thousands of protesters on both sides of the abortion issue” but no mention of the fact that out of that number, some 50,000 to 100,000 were pro-lifers, with the pro-abortion counter protesters numbering somewhere around 150. Since every newscast featured interviews from “both sides,” I figure every one of those 150 counter protesters must have been interviewed at least ten times.

It was one of those interviews that caught my attention. A woman was extolling the virtues of Roe vs. Wade, and she said the most amazing thing. She said that abortion is very important “to our dignity as women.”

Our dignity?

I would love to hear someone explain to me how abortion enhances our “dignity as women.” Tens of million of women have had abortions since 1973. Many regret that decision, while others believe the abortion was somehow justified. But I doubt there is one woman among them who believes, in her heart of hearts, that her abortion was one of her more dignified moments.

What exactly is “dignified” about violating our deepest instincts, invading our bodies and killing our children? How exactly have women benefited from this? Sure, we’re “free to choose when and if we will become mothers.” But we’ve always had that freedom. In times past we exercised that freedom by respecting our bodies and abstaining from sex until we were ready to become parents. Now we’re “free” to reject parenthood and fool around at the same time.

Are we better off?

Sure, women hold more elected offices, more places in public life. And that’s a good thing. But no woman needed abortion to achieve that, unless of course she slept her way to the top. 

Are we held in higher esteem as women? Is our sexuality respected in today’s society? Hardly. A woman is expected to “perform” sexually in a dating relationship (by the fifth date, according to one popular book). Women are, in the larger culture, portrayed more and more often as sexual objects. Billboards, magazine covers and web sites all invite men to see our bodies as mere “pleasure palaces” designed for their personal satisfaction. Rape and other sex crimes against women have reached all-time highs. High school girls are assaulted at school. Junior high girls are expected to perform oral sex to keep their “boyfriends.” And, in the midst of it all, Planned Parenthood employees in several states have been recorded on the telephone instructing girls as young as 13 to conceal their boyfriends’ age when coming in for an abortion, to avoid prosecution for statutory rape.

Sociologists say that abortion was a “technology shock,” reducing the expectations of men and women about male responsibility in the event of pregnancy. In that situation, her partner will more often than not offer to “step up to the plate” and pony up the $400 she needs to have their child sucked into a sink. But that’s all. If a single woman decides against aborting her children, she is more often than not forced to “go it alone.” Thus the “feminization of poverty.” The poorest people in America are single mothers and their children.

And how’s this for “dignity” in the abortion culture? A doctor in Florida recently went on trial for raping a patient while she was under anesthesia. Later, when she was found to be pregnant, the same doctor performed an abortion on her. This is, unfortunately, not an isolated event. Stories like this are cropping up with alarming frequency.

Abortion hasn’t been a godsend for women. It’s been a disaster. It hasn’t enhanced our dignity. It has stripped us of our true dignity, and replaced it with a social “dignity” based on a lie – the lie that we don’t get pregnant, that our sexual activity is consequence-free, that our value is determined by our usefulness rather than by our very existence as image and likeness of God. We aren’t truly “dignified” in this society until we’re doing battle with the very deepest part of ourselves – our capacity to create and nurture new life.

The pro-abortion movement has pitted women against their bodies, and against their children. The result has that one in four of our babies dies before seeing the light of day, while their mothers carry an unacknowledged burden too heavy to imagine.

Women don’t have dignity despite our bodies. We hold our dignity within our bodies, within the image and likeness of God they possess. 

I don’t think we’ll be truly happy until we recognize that.