Two US stories caught my eye this week. The first, it’s fair to say, you probably saw: a leaked ‘Draft Opinion’ from the US Supreme Court that indicates that the court is likely to overturn the Roe vs Wade ruling which guarantees the right to a legal, safe abortion. If implemented, it will leave individual states free to ban abortion. It is estimated that half of them will do so.
More on this topic:
- The battle for women's bodies
- Nurses vote for the decriminalisation of abortion
- Should nurses perform abortions?
One of these is Missouri. Legislation passed in 2019 would ban abortions in the state with the exception of medical emergencies if Roe vs Wade is overturned. There would be no exemptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
Missouri was the source of the other less publicised story I saw on the same day. The execution of the murderer Carman Deck on the same day. A sour comment on that state’s double standards on the sanctity of human life, but something else besides.
Mr Deck’s crimes were horrific, but almost overshadowed by the horrors of his upbringing. Born to a teenage mother, he endured a cycle of abuse and neglect from parents and authorities alike, before slipping into increasingly violent criminality. A system which insists on women carrying children, but takes no responsibility for their post-natal welfare is one without any moral authority.
And here is the crux, because the moral arguments both pro and con abortion are serious and compelling. But the dealbreaker is public health. The truth is that outlawing abortion has never reduced the demand for it, because it doesn’t obviate the reasons for it, it just leads to the backstreet abortionist, and the deaths of thousands of women. As the columnist Tanya Gold put it: "For some men abortion is a philosophical, a moral problem. An opportunity to preen. For women it is delivering dead babies, dying in childbirth, staying in abusive relationships and living in poverty."
If the tag of ‘pro-life’ meant anything at all, it would mean drawing a line under such horrors. Forever.