What the worst argument I’ve heard for abortion says about our culture of nonsense

Abortion-rights supporters stand on both sides of a street near the Gateway Arch as they take part in a protest in favor of reproductive rights Thursday, May 30, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

I heard some terrible things this past week or so, after sweeping new abortion laws passed in several states. The laws are designed to be contested, and they are not yet in effect. But they have already let loose monsters from deep within our national psyche.

I heard, of course, that if women would just keep their knees together, the problem would take care of itself. I heard that women who have abortions should be thrown in jail, maybe hanged, for murder; and women who have miscarried should have no problem being examined because their uterus might be a crime scene. I heard that women with no good choices simply do not understand what love is.

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I heard that foster children, abused children and special needs children are only here because their mothers were not given the choice to put them out of their misery (and to save the taxpayers money). I heard that if abortion is murder, then so is masturbation; if embryos are humans, then ultrasounds are child pornography. I heard that I am self-righteous, cruel and full of hate because I am pro-life. And I have seen dozens of people mock pro-lifers by putting comical hats and mustaches on a photo of a miscarried baby.

How can I persuade your mind to accept something even your body has known since before it was born?

Somehow worst of all was something I hear more and more often, as an argument for abortion on demand, without apology: “If my mom had aborted me, I would not even know it because I would not be here. So what does it matter?”

How can I persuade your mind to accept something even your body has known since before it was born? The body knows that life is better than death. People who attempt to drown themselves will tie their own ankles together because they know that even in the very act of self-extinction, their bodies will fight hard to live. I wonder if we are on our way to reprogramming our brains to evolve past our body’s involuntary thrashing toward life. It does seem like we are trying.

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We are trying to persuade ourselves—and worse, to teach children—that life does not mean anything. That there is no such thing as meaning, only consciousness; and once that consciousness is snuffed out, nothing is left. So what does it matter? This is the howlingly bleak idea that makes a “no harm, no foul” abortion possible: No one is around to kick up a fuss, so did anything even happen?

We are trying to persuade ourselves—and worse, to teach children—that life does not mean anything.

I do believe the willingness to extinguish life is learned from a growing culture of nonsense. Nonsense is intensely popular right now. Look at the computer-generated backgrounds to dancing games: One shows women in wedding dresses dancing with a cossack, then with a panda, then with a giant carrot. Why? No reason at all. They are so randomly, senselessly bizarre; at first you are fascinated, then you are repelled.

If you want to work up a good sense of dread, read the essay “Something is wrong on the internet,” which describes the “infrastructural violence” being done to children and to us all through algorithms that create YouTube videos filled with anything that sells, from Peppa Pig cartoons to torture porn, all set to soothing nursery music. With everything nonsensically—and sometimes violently—mashed together, how do we find meaning?

Even things that do mean something are all crammed together in an indiscriminate, ever-scrolling feed that endlessly refreshes itself and offers less and less refreshment, less and less meaning. It feels like someone is trying to drive us insane. It feels like someone is trying to tell us: Here is everything because nothing means anything.

In all that swirling storm of nonsense, we are supposed to take the time to worry about a tiny zygote we cannot even see? What does it matter?

And in all that swirling storm of nonsense, we are supposed to take the time to worry about a tiny zygote we cannot even see? What does it matter?

Let us change pace. Joseph Ratzinger says of the kingdom of heaven:

It is like a grain of mustard, the tiniest of all seeds. It is like a leaven, a small quantity in comparison to the whole mass of the dough, yet decisively important for what becomes of the dough. It is compared again and again to the seed that is planted in the field of the world, where it meets various fates—it is pecked up by the birds, or it is suffocated among the thorns, or else it ripens into abundant fruit.

The kingdom of God, “God’s being-Lord,” as Ratzinger calls it, is so small, so strangely vulnerable. So liable to be flushed away, withered, suffocated, undone, as if it did not matter, as if it did not mean anything. God himself was a tiny zygote, minuscule, secret, a single word in a swirling Babel. The kingdom of God itself is tiny now, as we are tiny.

Let us stop, stop the Babel for a moment, and just be glad that God thinks we mean something, thinks we matter.

Tiny—but not nothing.

I have heard terrible things this week. But the best thing I heard was on Sunday, when the tiny-seed-kingdom-of-God put himself in a cup for us to eat and drink. Why? Because we matter to him. Why do we matter to him? I have no idea. What does it matter to the Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One if the whole world throws itself away? What does it matter? He does not need us. But every Sunday I show up, and so does he. I must conclude that we matter.

Here is the paradox: Because we matter, he threw his life away for us. How different this death was from the unmaking we so casually allow for each other. How different is death for love than death from nonsense. Death to self for love brings meaning to life.

Christ’s death for love is for everyone: everyone who has suffered, everyone who lolls in privilege, everyone who chafes under the patriarchy and everyone who seethes over feminism. Everyone who rages for the poor lost babies, everyone who rages for the poor perforated women, their wombs pierced by a careless legal scalpel or a desperate back-alley assault. Everyone who has been wounded by abortion and by the terrible accusations flung at them this week and by the dreadful pains of life itself. And most of all, for everyone who does not know it is good that they exist.

Let us stop, stop the Babel for a moment, and just be glad that God thinks we mean something, thinks we matter. He is the Word that calms the storm of nonsense. Remember his death when we speak to each other.

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J Jones
2 months 2 weeks ago

Simcga, I look around and I see all the chaos you describe. And, everywhere, in every corner of this discussion, I also see that every person who speaks on this issue demonstrates she/he is convinced "life matters". So, the terrible thing I heard today was when you accused others of "trying to persuade children life doesn't matter". I don't know those people. I haven't read anything here or anywhere else by those people. I don't believe those people exist.

I heard a terrible thing today, Simcha, because you decided you knew others' intentions and that those intentions are nihilistic.

"We" is sometimes the least inclusive word possible, most especially when it is followed by an assertion of the Other's intention. Sometimes it has the result that well-meaning people say terrible things, which you just did.

J. Calpezzo
2 months 2 weeks ago

The pro-life racket is alive and well in the Catholic Church.

Nora Bolcon
2 months 2 weeks ago

That was an excellent and true comment J. Thank you!

Ellen B
2 months 2 weeks ago

Great comment.

When an argument starts with an outrageous statement, it's hard to see any point being made beyond the outrageous statement. I've never even read the "If I wasn't born I wouldn't know" on a message board. Don't start with a falsehood.

J. Calpezzo
2 months 2 weeks ago

Joseph Ratzinger and his benefactor JPII looked the other way for years while innocent children were raped by the Church. How pro-life was that?

Daniel B
2 months 2 weeks ago

Please explain how the Church can rape a human being.

J Jones
2 months 2 weeks ago

Per Merriam-Webster, the second meaning of the word "rape" is "an outrageous violation". It seems even more apt when the outrageous violation is the cover up of rape (the first definition).

Daniel B
2 months 2 weeks ago

Got it. I still do not think you used the word "rape" properly in your original comment. "Joseph Ratzinger and his benefactor JPII looked the other way for years while innocent children were "an outrageous violation" by the Church. But I think I understand what you meant to say now. I am also curious about your second sentence where you asked "how pro-life is that?" What is your definition of "pro-life"?

J Jones
2 months 2 weeks ago

I am not the person who wrote the original comment. I think you are intentionally refusing to understand this person. Why pretend that there CAN be an overstatement of the seriousness of this worldwide phenomenon of the sexual abuse of children by men who teach they are Christ's sacramental representatives on Earth?

Judith Jordan
2 months 1 week ago

Daniel B
If you go into a place of business and an employee rapes you, the business that hired the rapist can also be held legally accountable for your rape.

Peter Schwimer
2 months 2 weeks ago

Simcha, I am very glad that you have the resources to have born 10 children. The vast majority of us do not. I agree that abortion is a terrible decision. But it is neither your decision nor mine. The problem with your argument as with many, you assume too much. You assume that women do not agonize over their decision and that they do not care. I dont know any women like that. Do you? Or do you just assume. The problem is one of who makes the decision. You, me, a judge, the Congress? Or perhaps it should be left to the one person most involved, the woman and her God whoever that might be.

J. Calpezzo
2 months 2 weeks ago

Simcha should be taxed extra for her carbon footprint.

Nora Bolcon
2 months 2 weeks ago

I still believe people should have the children they want to have and we should not pick on them or pick on those couples who want no children. Some people are called to parent more than others.

But I have to say that the church might want to pick a different spokesperson for natural family planning brochures because the ten kids will likely lead most people to assume that she is proof this form of family planning really does not work. Which is basically true unless you are fine with turning your sex life into a lab experiment or you want ten kids.

Patti Sheffield
2 months 2 weeks ago

One: It's really her business how many children she has and Two: NFP helped her have them when she wanted to. What people assume has no bearing on reality.

J Jones
2 months 2 weeks ago

I respect your anger that others are judging Simcha's conscious choice to have 10 children. You make a wonderful argument for every.single.woman.refusing.to.comment.on.every.other.woman's.reproductive.decision-making.choices. As you say, "what other people assume has no bearing on reality". I pray you are as prickly and determined an advocate for every woman's right not to have her reproductive decisions be decided and bandied about by strangers. I am sure you have as much respect for the privacy rights of women you dong know as you do for Simcha, the woman here.

Nora Bolcon
2 months 1 week ago

Actually, what people assume has an enormous bearing on reality. FOX news causes real damage and repercussions in the world because our president assumes this channel's ridiculous and baseless statements contain some amount of truth when they do not most of the time.

If this writer had ten kids, I would guess she wasn't really using any kind of birth control - natural or otherwise, much of her child bearing life, which was the point of my comment.

Also, If the writer does not want her ten kids to be other peoples business then she should not announce she has ten kids with her bio at the beginning of her articles.

J Jones
2 months 1 week ago

Yes, Nora. Simcha has a brand: "mother of 10 children". Patti's touchiness about responses to Simcha's marketing of her fertility decisions is pretty silly.

Patti Sheffield
2 months 2 weeks ago

Off-topic, but since you brought it up, she already addressed that:

https://www.simchafisher.com/2015/06/19/big-families-say-laudato-si/

Karen Cain
2 months 2 weeks ago

Have you ever taken a jet plane? Then you already have a carbon footprint as large as a family of ten kids who live a modest lifestyle. Do you order things online to be shipped to your house? Whoops! There's your carbon footprint, getting bigger. I'll send you your tax bill.

J Jones
2 months 2 weeks ago

Karen, I admire your defense of Simcha's personal pregnacy choices without reference to others' often contradictory though most strongly held politics and deepest values. I trust and pray you are as prickly and determined in defending every woman as you are Simcha.

Ashley Slack
2 months 2 weeks ago

We all have choices to make in every single thing we do but that does not mean all of those choices should be legal or funded by the government or tax dollars. I agree that plenty of w omen, and men, grieve the decision to abort and they desperately need love, prayers and Christ in their lives. I pray for healing for all of them. You say that Congress, judges, etc should not be involved with the decision, but aren't they already if they endorse and fund abortions? I am pro life, and I believe that women deserve better than this throw away culture that allows life of all kinds to be extinguished so casually. Visit the planned parenthood website and see for yourself how matter of fact they are about it. They do not have these women's best interests at heart and it is heartbreaking how women are taken advantage of in a moment of terrible duress (an unplanned pregnancy). There are other options, if only these women had someone to walk with them and help them to see those options. And as for the comment about the author's 10 children...would you accuse her of not adopting kids whose mothers chose life if she didn't have children of her own? That was truly an unkind, unnecessary, passive aggressive comment. Not having resources to raise a child is a weak argument for abortion. You can give up your child for adoption and at least give them a chance at life. Who knows what kind of saint they could grow up to be.

Robert Klahn
2 months 2 weeks ago

I do thank you for your support for a program to feed all the hungry, house all the homeless, provide universal health care, tuition free public college and tech schools, provide jobs for all at a good living wage, decent retirement, and, in general, care for the poor.

Who knows what kind of saint the child who dies from lack of medical care could grow up to be?

Who knows what kind of doctor or engineer or scientist that child could have grown up to be if not denied education?

Who knows how many lives that child could have enhanced as a fireman, a para-medic, as a police officer if the child had not been unfit because of childhood malnutrition?

Those who offer adoption only as the alternative to abortion are just anti-abortion, not pro-life.

Lisa M
2 months 2 weeks ago

Countries that have healthcare, low tuition, maturity leave, free daycare, etc. still have abortions. Fear and shame is what drives abortion. Women deserve better than that and Catholic families must step up to the plate. Adoption is not the only alternative. Loving the mother in crisis is required. I see how pro choice people love to. tell pro life people that they are pro birth. What exactly are you 'pro choicers' doing to help women in crisis? Drive them to the clinics? How about loving them and letting them know you are there for them. And being there for them! There's a start.

Nora Bolcon
2 months 2 weeks ago

Who says all pro choice people don't love women more than pro lifers who seem to hate women.

Countries that offer the social programs you basically flipped off have half the rate of abortion and maternal death rates compared to the countries that don't offer those things and restrict birth control and abortion so it seems to me that actions speak louder than words and those countries with low rates (which for the moment still includes us) have proved their love of women by a willingness to pay taxes to give women real answers to real crises.

Meanwhile, the pro lifers I dialogue with and inform of the horrid results that come from criminalizing abortion (always much more abortion and maternal deaths) respond by either I don't care about the facts, and if more women die who cares and they deserve it (I guess those greater number of fetuses dying had it coming too?) or they suggest we pet the women on the head and offer them six months of free care for themselves and their babies and then all support just disappears on their plans.

Women need to be respected and loved and not patronized by old white religious extremist men who only care about making abortion illegal while not caring at all about preventing abortions. That is neither pro life, or christian or loving.

There will sadly always be some abortions just like there will always be some amount of adultery, murder, and rape. Those who love their sisters help them cope with their crises with social programs that secure the women and their children a happy and healthy future as much as possible.

Lisa M
2 months 2 weeks ago

"Those who love their sisters help them cope with their crises with social programs that secure the women and their children a happy and healthy future as much as possible." Exactly Nora, that's where the focus must be, nothing else is acceptable. Why can't both sides agree, and why always bring in the 'old white man' argument. From what I can tell, there is no shortage of them pressuring women to abort. In fact more white men support abortion than women. I wonder why???

Nora Bolcon
2 months 2 weeks ago

Lisa, I agree at least in part, but I can't get pro lifers to take the gun off the discussion table, so to speak. Pro choice advocates are not going to trust pro lifers until they are willing to drop all attempts to criminalize abortion. Since you seem to agree this is not the correct reaction to abortion either, you need to explain that to your friends at the pro life camp. Criminalizing abortion always increases it, and the deaths of women, in those countries, and pro choicers are not going to trust pro lifers until they respect that evidence and stop pushing deadly laws against women. Not to mention, that these laws are inherently unjust since we have no equal requirement for men to use their organs to save the lives of others when they equally could do so.

I stated it is old white men because it largely is. Knights of Columbus are an all male group and they are perhaps the largest group pushing pro life rallies demanding abortion be made a crime from our church. I don't know if that stat of women supporting pro life more than men is correct or not.
Plus it depends what you mean by pro life, officially since I believe abortion is a sin, I could be counted as pro life but I completely disagree with making abortion a crime.

Every time I see regular protesters, whether in recent documentaries or in the city, it is always 90 percent old white men holding the pro life signs. This is especially noticeable in the South when I have seen clearly nicely dressed white men chiding clearly poorly dressed black and Hispanic women. They offer these women nothing but ridicule. None of them says, Hey if you keep your unborn child, you can stay in my nice expensive house, and raise your children until they are at least 14 years old because it is obvious you could never afford daycare. They say instead - you can give your child up for adoption! They want these women to care about their unborn child when they are pregnant but not care about it after it is born because they don't want to be taxed for the social programs like welfare.

J Jones
2 months 2 weeks ago

Lisa, I do not know any pro-choice women who do not vote for the resources needed by women and girls who are pregnant, whether or not they choose to remain pregnant: access to affordable healthcare, affordable housing, public transportation, education and job opportunities, the right to create committed and stable families and faith communities of their choosing, access to affordable childcare. I have never met a pro-choice voter who wants women to get abortions and then shut up about it. I have never met a pro-choice woman who believes other women SHOULD get abortions. I have never heard a woman say "my pro-choice friend said she would drive me to the abortion clinic but, other than that, I am on my own". I have never heard a woman say "my pro-choice friends refused to support me and help me when I decided to carry my pregnancy to term".

Pro-choice means "I will support you in making whatever choice you make". It means "I believe the community is best served when the community makes it possible for every pregnant woman to be healthy and stable regardless of whether she chooses to remain pregnant and my role in that is to actively support her choice", the nature of that support determined by my relationship to her.

It is a tragedy when women and girls ARE abandoned when they become pregnant, and I agree that that occurs. However, that dynamic predates Roe v Wade by millenia and has no relationship whatsoever to pro-choice beliefs, advocates or voters.

Ashley Slack
2 months 2 weeks ago

There is another option. Keep and raise the baby. Reach out to Newborns in Need or similar programs for supplies to care for your baby. Link in with a local church, who regardless of membership would help if possible. Seek out a pregnancy resource center, a Catholic Charities chapter. There are real options. PP and other abortion clinics do not offer support. They offer a quick and risky procedure to end life under the guise of women's rights. For everyone who thinks that a baby isn't a baby until it can survive outside the mother needs to consider this: I have a 2 month old baby. He is a real person under the law now that he is born. But what would happen if I set him in his crib, closed the door, left my home and never returned? He would die. His total and utter dependence on me does not make him less of a life. It is the same with the unborn. Yes, we need resources for these women, and there are. There need to be more, but that fact doesn't make abortion okay.

Nora Bolcon
2 months 2 weeks ago

Ashley the question is not is abortion ok but should it be legal. Adultery is awful and can lead to even someone getting an abortion but making it a crime will not stop it from happening - that does not mean it is ok. Every country in the world where abortion is a crime there are much higher abortion rates and maternal death rates. Our rates will rise too in the U.S. if we make it a crime. In fact these states that have made abortion difficult to access in the last three years have already seen major spikes in self aborting with disastrous results.

Your child can live without you once born because anyone can come in the room and take him out of the crib and help him with whatever he needs to survive even if you never return or die.

We do not even legally demand that men give blood to save e their own child's life. So how are these laws just and not biased against women.

Dolores Pap
2 months 1 week ago

I reject that the role of the government should be the legislating of 'morality'. How well did that go for the nation when some super 'moral' citizens decided that drinking alcohol was not in the nation's best interest and they vomented until they had enough power to pass an amendment to the Constitution, outlawing alcohol? That was also an egregious over reach and did NOTHING to up the 'moral' tone of the nation Abortion IS a moral decision and it must continue to be left to the woman and their doctors, not to the public at large. Constitutionally protected rights are never to be voted on..

Judith Jordan
2 months 1 week ago

Ashley Slack---
“You say that Congress, judges, etc should not be involved with the decision, but aren't they already if they endorse and fund abortions.” The Hyde Amendment prohibits the government from funding any abortions. Congress, etc does not need to endorse abortion or prohibit it. Just like they don’t endorse or prohibit vasectomies…or mostly any other kind of medical procedure.

Crystal Watson
2 months 2 weeks ago

The carbon footprint of 10 kinds is huge ... https://green.blogs.nytimes.com//2009/08/07/having-children-brings-high-carbon-impact/

Patti Sheffield
2 months 2 weeks ago

Simcha already addressed this fallacious claim.

https://www.simchafisher.com/2015/06/19/big-families-say-laudato-si/

Stanley Kopacz
2 months 2 weeks ago

If all couples, especially American ones, had ten children, it would be a world ending disaster. But only the average birth rate matters. As long as that remains below replacement, that is hopeful for the future of the planetary ecology and civilization. But if some people have large families , that's not a problem. As an only child, I am certainly envious of people who grow up in such families. Unfortunately, it must remain uncommon.

Crystal Watson
2 months 2 weeks ago

There are already too many people here. And people having many children, especially Americans, is more damaging to the environment than eating meat or driving cars or taking jets. "Having children is one of the most destructive things you can to do the environment, say researchers" ... https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/children-carbon-footprint-climate-change-damage-having-kids-research-a7837961.html

Stanley Kopacz
2 months 2 weeks ago

Give up meat or having kids, it plays into the Repub's individualistic B.S. You have to go from the systems we have now to systems that mimic the cycles of nature.

Crystal Watson
2 months 2 weeks ago

Gorka: "Democrats want to take away your hamburgers" ;)

Michael Cardinale
2 months 2 weeks ago

Where did the number 10 come from? As for the woman most involved, let her pay for her own abortion; don't ask for Congressional funding.

Vince Killoran
2 months 2 weeks ago

One of the things I really like about AMERICA is its practice of engaging with the complexity of the great moral issues of today, especially those that deal with sexuality and reproduction. This article falls wide of the mark. The author is a cultural warrior, i.e., someone who, in a facile way, posits our world as a one-dimensional "culture of nonsense" and then presents her "side" as obviously and in an uncomplicated manner as the just and moral.

Just once I would love to read a pro-Life writer ponder the complexity and identify what they don't know. I've noted before, for example, that I have yet to read a compelling and complete explanation of how they would re-criminalize abortion.

J Jones
2 months 2 weeks ago

Here's one discussion: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/02/opinion/abortion-laws-men.html

Nora Bolcon
2 months 2 weeks ago

The silence I hate most is that of Pro Lifers who have just been informed that their whole cause is anti- their whole cause.

Laws which criminalize abortion cause abortion rates to rise in every country of the world. This is true, not opinion, and evidence based fact. So if you are pro life then you should want to keep abortions legal throughout pregnancy. Otherwise the rates for abortions and maternal death rates will rise. This should be a no - brainer folks! Please snap out of that Pro life coma and halt your deadly actions before they kill more of both the unborn and women in the U.S. We currently have one of the lowest abortion rates in the world due to the leniency of our laws. I know it does not seem to make sense but that is the reality when one examines all global evidence.

FACTS FOR THOSE WHO CARE ABOUT THEM:

From Guttmacher: Abortion and Birth Control Stats.
(Notes from my other research on this topic - bottom)
REGIONAL INCIDENCE AND TRENDS:
• The highest annual rate of abortion in 2010–2014 was in the Caribbean, estimated at 59 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, followed by South America, at 48.
The lowest rates were in Northern America, at 17, and Western and Northern Europe—at 16 and 18, respectively.
• Across regions, Eastern Europe experienced the largest decline in the abortion rate, from 88 in 1990–1994 to 42 in 2010–2014. Despite this decline, there is a persistent gap in rates between Eastern and Western Europe (42 vs. 16) likely reflecting lower use of effective, modern contraceptive methods in Eastern Europe.
• The overall abortion rate in Africa was 34 per 1,000 women in 2010–2014. Subregional rates ranged from 31 in Western Africa to 38 in Northern Africa. There has been little if any change in abortion rates in these subregions since 1990–1994.
• For Latin America, subregional abortion rates range from 33 in Central America to 48 in South America. Rates have increased slightly since 1990–1994, but not by statistically significant amounts.
• Abortion rates in Asia have also fallen since 1990–1994, although not significantly. Asia’s subregions all have rates close to the regional average of 36 per 1,000 women.
• Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. When countries are grouped according to the grounds under which the procedure is legal, the rate is 37 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age where it is prohibited altogether or allowed only to save a woman’s life, compared with 34 per 1,000 where it is available on request, a nonsignificant difference.
• High levels of unmet need for contraception help explain the prevalence of abortion in countries with restrictive abortion laws.

What I have researched from other appropriate sources agrees with Guttmacher but also indicates the below information on this subject:
The World Health Organization Research agrees with the Guttmacher Research. Their results are almost identical.
However, neither the W.H.O. or Guttmacher can give us a solid conclusion, due to lack of evidence, as to what happens when countries offer easy access to quality birth control but make their abortion laws stricter. This is due to the fact that most countries either are lenient on both issues or they are strict on access to both abortion and birth control.
We could make some confident speculation, based on the global evidence that does exist, that in countries, currently, where laws are strict for both abortion and birth control or where both are criminalized, that were these countries to loosen up laws on birth control access alone and not on abortion, the abortion rates would come down more, and likely closer to where the Western and developed nations are at. However, these countries are not necessarily or likely to get quite as low as the western, industrialized, countries since there does exist evidence that the mere difficulty of access to abortion alone lends, especially in certain cases, to higher abortion rates by itself.
Unfortunately, in the countries where the laws for abortion become much stricter than in the past, such as may exist in the U.S. for the future, the amount of abortions could increase quite a bit even if birth control access remains easy and free. One of the reasons this is true is due to the fact that, in these countries, many women who get pregnant in their later years, 40s or older, often now seek to get an amnio to see if their fetus is healthy. They can only get this during the late part of the 3rd month or beginning of the fourth month of their pregnancy. With stricter laws, some of these women may decide they don't want to take the chance the fetus is unhealthy or has downs syndrome, and instead may opt to get an early abortion thru more easily, anonymously obtained, although perhaps illegally obtained, abortion pills. These pills become not an option in later months, and testing would put women in a position to not be able to deny they are pregnant, publicly, if they wait, so this puts the women at risk they could be charged with a crime if abortion becomes illegal. (Please note: I am not suggesting this is right or moral or Christian behavior but only that the reality exist and I personally know quite a few women who would fit this category, today, in the U.S. despite anyone's opinions or beliefs)
A horrible side effect of the above situation is this: 50% of all downs fetuses naturally miscarry in the first trimester, and 40% that make it to the 2nd trimester miscarry then. Fetuses that have other severe health issues often miscarry, naturally, within the first three - four months of pregnancy as well. The amount of downs fetuses that become born infants are very small amounts even for older women. This illness is still quite rare overall. This means many women could end up aborting perfectly healthy fetuses, by the thousands, each year, or more, to avoid the possibility of having an unhealthy baby, and this number increases if women already have other children. One way some western countries avoid this issue is that they keep early abortions legal and allow later abortions into the 4th and 5th month if the fetus has tested unhealthy or the woman's life is in real danger if she remains pregnant. Many married older women think they aren't fertile when they still are and stop taking birth control.
Lastly, there is no existing evidence that easy access to abortions, even throughout pregnancy, equates to more abortions, in any country, that has free and easy access to birth control. In fact, countries with easy access to abortion and also free easy access to birth control have the lowest rates in the world, and these rates lower even more when those countries offer mandated longer paid maternity/paternity leaves, free quality universal health care, and free, quality, public daycare. (The only exception to this seems to be Sweden. Despite Sweden's similarly ease of access to both abortion and birth control and it's offering many of the benefits listed above that other Western European Countries offer, it still has quite a high abortion rate. However, there is no evidence suggesting that tightening Sweden's existing laws would lower its rate for abortion and doing so would likely only raise it even higher.)
The evidence we do have seems to indicate, on a global scale, that despite what seems reasonable in theory, i.e., harsh abortion laws will lower abortion rates, is completely false when put to the test in reality. It just may be that easy access to abortion, and lenient abortion laws, help more to reduce abortion rates than having strict laws against abortion, in any country. Perhaps some morality issues simply cannot be solved by force or threat but must instead be dealt with by respecting the situation of the people involved and helping them out of their place of fear or desperation, with physical and material protections and emotional and spiritual support. We could do much more perhaps by encouraging a choice for good, and for life, without attempting to control women. We could choose to help women in real ways, instead of trying to corner them into doing the Christian thing.

Sarah Dolski
2 months 2 weeks ago

Simcha, thank you so much for your depth of insight. Very few things touch my heart these days, but this article brought me to tears.

I want to offer you some encouragement to continue speaking bravely and honestly. The world needs the loving truth you are bringing.
I am sorry for the people who even after reading an article like this are still blinded by their ideologies. I hope we all can continue to move in the direction of meaning together.

Ashley Slack
2 months 2 weeks ago

Simcha, don't let these folks get you down. This piece was beautifully written and so on the mark. I am Methodist and my husband is Catholic. I don't see everything exactly the way the Catholic church does, but I do admire the way they honor the word of God in being unshakable in their value of life. Please keep speaking about and encouraging the rejection of this throw away culture we are stuck in. Life matters. Period. Babies deserve better, women deserve better, men deserve better. Families deserve better! Thank you for being vocal about this devastating issue that is plaguing our world, and may our prayers be answered.

Robert Klahn
2 months 2 weeks ago

I do thank you for your support for a program to feed all the hungry, house all the homeless, provide universal health care, tuition free public college and tech schools, provide jobs for all at a good living wage, decent retirement, and, in general, care for the poor.

J Jones
2 months 2 weeks ago

Simcha, have you wondered whether the statement about "if my mother had had an abortion, I wouldn't have known so it doesn't matter" could be a response to another bit of cultural nonsense?

I hear the statement you reference in response to this statement (or a variant): "If you are reading this shirt, thank your mother for not aborting you".

Each is a juvenile effort to be casually cool enough to have "serious thoughts" while offending the maximum number of people who disagree with those "serious thoughts".

The "pro-life" effort (thank your mother for not aborting you) is a juvenile way of communicating "I am against abortion". The pro-choice effort (if she had aborted me, I wouldn't have known) is a juvenile way of communiucating "My mother's life and choices always belonged to my mother and never to me".

You have premised your argument that "we are trying to persuade ourselves --- and worse, we are teaching our children --- that life doesn't matter" on those hyperbolic statements above. Each is reaction to the other and each is as silly, Simcha, as your decision to ground your sweeping assumption on the hyperbolic expression which so offends you.

Crystal Watson
2 months 2 weeks ago

People who get an abortion don't think life doesn't matter. Most women who get abortions are already parents and one reason they get an abortion is because they care so much about the quality of the lives of their already existing children. Your straw pro-choice women are laughable. And pro-lifers don't own the kingdom of heaven.

Patti Sheffield
2 months 2 weeks ago

So, your point is, it's okay to sacrifice the life of a child so the other child(ren) can have a better life? Isn't that how the Jews came to be seen as less than human---by getting rid of them, everyone else in Nazi Germany would have a better life? No, sorry. That was revolting in the 1930s and is still revolting today.

Crystal Watson
2 months 2 weeks ago

If this were actually about two children, you would be right. But we are talking about children and embryos/fetuses. No matter how much pro-life people try to obscure this issue, embryos and fetuses are not the same as actual children.

Judith Jordan
2 months 1 week ago

Patti Sheffield--
The Jewish community has asked us not to compare abortion to their Holocaust. Th Holocaust is unique to them and they find it hurtful and offensive to compare the two.

Ashley Slack
2 months 2 weeks ago

Crystal, here is the thing... You may not realize it, but the second we make exceptions to who can or cannot be terminated (unborn, terminally ill, certain convicted criminals, disabled children in utero such as those with spina bifida or down dyndrome) we cease to value life with a capital "L." It may not be conscious or malicious , but the underlying rationale is "my right to x, y, z trumps the life of the child growing inside of me." Either life matters or it doesn't . There is no room for gray area. A life, is a life. Period. And if life truly does matter than abortion can never be acceptable.

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