Pro-life Urban Legends

An urban legend is one of those stories that makes the rounds and develops a life of its own, even though it really isn’t true. There are a number of them that pop up from time to time on one side of the abortion debate or the other — and sometimes both. Here’s the real deal about a number of false statements:

  • Abortion is necessary in cases of rape or incest
  • Abortion is necessary in cases of fetal deformity
  • Abortion is necessary to save the mother’s life
  • Abortion is necessary to protect the mother’s health
  • Abortion is safer than childbirth
  • Pro-lifers are anti-woman
  • Pro-lifers are violent people
  • The bible permits birth control
  • The Catholic Church once approved abortion
  • Thomas Aquinas said early abortion was not murder

Abortion is necessary in cases of rape or incest

Rape and incest are crimes, and those who commit them should be punished. But why do even some pro-life people say a death sentence should be imposed on the culprit’s child? Any child in the womb, regardless of how life began, is the most innocent of human beings. It is simply unthinkable to condemn this innocent person to death. Yes, mothers who became pregnant through rape need a lot of care and attention. Killing the child doesn’t solve their problem. It only makes it worse. The baby is a gift from God and, as we know, every child is made in the image and likeness of God. It is never acceptable to murder an innocent child for the crime of his father.

Abortion is necessary in cases of fetal deformity

This isn’t like sending your meal back at the restaurant because it wasn’t prepared to your liking. The child is a human being. The arguments about “quality of life” or “the baby was going to die anyway” are meaningless. Each human being has dignity. The idea of a wholesale attack on the disabled in the womb is chilling, denying the right to life to an entire class of people.

Abortion is necessary to save the mother’s life

Many doctors will quickly tell you this is not true; that there is never a case in which it is necessary to kill the baby to save the mother. There are ways of saving both patients. Proper treatment of an ectopic pregnancy is not considered a “procured abortion.” Although the baby is unlikely to survive the treatment, there is no intent to take the child’s life.

Abortion is necessary to protect the mother’s health

This exception is written into legislation, and is at the center of the Supreme Court’s lesser-known Doe v. Bolton ruling of January 22.1973. It offers an almost unlimited excuse for abortion, yet it was formulated by lawyers, not doctors. Again, there is no problem so severe that it would justify killing the child.

Abortion is safer than childbirth

That’s certainly not the case for the baby. And for the mother, there can indeed be complications from abortion, including death. Many abortion-related deaths are not reported as such, however, as death certificates will list infection or uncontrolled bleeding as the principal cause of death in such cases. Abortion is much more dangerous than giving birth.

Pro-lifers are anti-woman

Pro-lifers are not against women; they’re against women killing their babies. This is simply the opposition’s rhetoric. Pro-lifers maintain an incredible national network of pregnancy care centers to help women who want to consider abortion for financial or social reasons. These centers provide counseling, and in many cases medical care, shelter, food and clothing for both mother and child.

Pro-lifers are violent people

Unfortunately, a small handful of people have taken the law into their own hands. All reputable pro-life groups, including American Life League, unequivocally reject violence as a means of achieving the goal of eliminating abortion. Pro-life people have also been the victims of violence, but such events are rarely reported by the mainstream media.

The bible permits birth control

The story of Onan would seem to refute that. While God gave men and women free will, the consequences of poor choices run through the Bible, beginning with Adam and Eve. In short, God told Onan to go forth and multiply, but he practiced birth control. The penalty for Onan’s disobedience was death. The overall message of Scripture is “be fruitful and multiply,” which is why the Catholic Church declares that artificial birth control is “intrinsically evil,” and why every Christian community agreed until the 1930s.

The Catholic Church once approved abortion

This one’s easy. No, the Catholic Church never did any such thing, though the misstatement is repeated frequently in anti-Catholic tracts. The writings of the early Church fathers clearly indicate that abortion is a most serious evil. There may be writings of individual Christians that differ with that stance, but these are not the official teachings of the Church.

Thomas Aquinas said early abortion was not murder

No he didn’t. There has been debate through the years about the point at which the soul enters the body. Back in Aquinas’ day, many thought that the child came alive at the point of “quickening,” when the mother could first feel the baby’s movements. One theory held that this happened around the 40th day of pregnancy. We now know that the child is active much earlier, though the mother cannot detect this. And science shows us that the child is a unique human being with his own specific set of DNA from the moment of fertilization.