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Our Public Forum received the following communication regarding the ProChoice vs ProLife debates:
 

Regarding the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice debate, specifically the point that  convinces me that the Bishops' exhortations to vote against John Kerry are not sincere, is that neither George Bush 41 nor George Bush 43 has ever ever done anything substantive to overturn the US Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.

Their positions are simply pandering to the religious right wing of US society.  Actions speak louder than words.  The Bushed are happy to be perceived as ProLife while doing nothing with their temporal authority to truly affect a change. Nothing sincere or substantive.

Why are the Christians in the US blind to this fact?

M W
Philadelphia PA


God directed us to ask Mr. Lee Pen, a balanced conservative Christian writer from the West Coast to answer this question. Therefore, that is exactly what we did. He graciously accepted the request and his full answer - without any editing from our part - follows:

The Answer

Why are US Christians (conservative pro-lifers, in particular) blind to the fact that Bush's opposition to abortion is rhetorical, and that neither he nor the Republican Party have taken substantive pro-life action?
 
1.  It is easy to examine the law, and see that it allows a wide-open abortion license, and to declaim against this condition.  It takes more work to do the research and to discover the facts about the incidence and prevalence of abortion.  After getting the facts about the incidence and prevalence of abortion, it takes further analysis to link social policy and law to the observed results.

2.  For Republicans, it is uncomfortable to recognize that (as I believe to be the case) the majority of the Supreme Court judges who gave us the 1973 Roe decision and the 1992 Casey decision were appointed by Republican presidents.

3.  It is my understanding that abortion rates and incidence peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, under the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations.

For details...

From...  Abortion in the United States

This source, which is a pro-Republican source, shows that abortions in the US peaked at 1.6 million in 1990, under Bush 41, and dropped to 1.3 million in 1997 - the middle of the Clinton era.

Under Clinton, abortion fell from 1.5 million (1993) to 1.3 million (1997) - the lowest it had been since 1977, in the first year of the Carter administration.

Additionally, since the US childbearing age population was greater in 1997 than in 1977, abortion rates were LOWER than they had been in 1977 ... without any "pro-life" legal changes.  A pro-abortion source, the Guttmacher Institute, indicates that a further small decrease in abortion occurred from 1996 to 2000.

Further Statistics...  Induced Abortion and  Three Decades of Legal Abortion: New Research and Analysis

Quote:

"The U.S. abortion rate continues to decline and is now at the lowest level since 1974, down to 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 2000, according to AGI's 13th survey of all known abortion providers in the United States, first conducted in 1973. This survey also found that, between 1996 and 2000, the abortion rate declined in every region of the country, in 35 states and the District of Columbia."


If forced to bet, I would surmise that abortion rates rose with economic stagnation and increased inequality during the 1980s and early 1990s, and that prosperity from 1993 to 2000 was a main reason why abortion fell ... with less social and economic duress, fewer women felt impelled to abort their babies.

Bottom line: there was less abortion under liberal Clinton than under conservative Reagan and Bush.

I do not know how US abortion statistics compare to those in Western Europe; if our rates are higher, despite the greater "religiosity" of the US, then the foregoing analysis would be yet stronger.


4.  It is easier for politicians to exploit abortion as a divisive wedge issue, to energize their political base, than to do something about it.
 

-- Congress could, if it wished, return the abortion issue to the states by removing abortion cases from Federal Court jurisdiction.  Or, it could pass a constitutional amendment defining human life to begin at conception, and requiring all states to protect it.  Neither has been done, and there is no political consensus to do them.

-- Other anti-abortion policy would have to deal with poverty, social isolation, family breakdown, divorce, abandonment, and other problems .... things that press people into choosing abortion.  Dealing with these social problems might be expensive, or cut into the incomes of the rich .... so it is easier to avoid these issues.

-- Almost everyone, except those already committed to strict pro-life principles, has a stake in keeping abortion legal, just in case birth control fails.

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