For years, there has been a raging debate within the anti-abortion movement about whether to take an incremental approach to restricting access to abortion versus going for the whole enchilada, i.e., banning abortion outright in the Congress or through the courts. Fortunately, they’ve taken the wrong approach.
For years after Roe v Wade was decided in 1973, the anti-abortion movement focused most of its energies on trying to pass the “Human Life Amendment” and/or the “Hatch Constitutional Amendment.” The HLA was a non-starter from the beginning. That legislation, introduced by the late Senator Jesse Helms, simply declared that “life begins at conception” and that the fetus was a “person” from the moment of conception. That one was laughed out of the room. The more serious effort was the Hatch (as in Senator Orrin Hatch) Amendment which basically overruled Roe v Wade, thus sending the issue of the legality of abortion back to the individual states. After years and years of furious lobbying, however, that measure was handily defeated in 1981.
Badly beaten, the anti-abortion movement started coming up with ways to make it more difficult to obtain an abortion in this country. They were successful early on in restricting the use of federal funds for abortions. Then they started looking to the state legislatures for help. They came up proposals imposing 24 hour waiting periods, requiring minors to get the permission of their parents to get an abortion, mandating that clinics show women pictures of fetal development and others. Then there was the famous “partial birth abortion” campaign that took place on both the national and state level.
In many states, these efforts were successful. Or I should say they were successfully enacted into law. But if the goal of the anti-abortion movement is to “save babies,” well, these laws hardly had an impact.
The fact is that the desire to have an abortion can be so strong that most women will walk over burning coals to get one. So, having to jump through some additional hoops and fires is not the deciding factor for most women. And before you pro-choicers start jumping all over me, I will say that, yes, having to wait 24 hours when you’ve traveled across the state will mean an extra expense. And the minor who feels she cannot talk to her parents might wind up going to an adjoining state that doesn’t have any restrictions. These are very unfortunate situations, but while it’s impossible to prove a negative, my gut tells me that the number of abortions has not dropped dramatically because of these laws. Babies have not been saved, folks.
Then there’s the “partial birth” abortion law. That one is the biggest joke and biggest scam. I can tell you for a fact that this law has had no effect whatsoever. That’s because abortion doctors have other procedures at their disposal to do late term abortions. Yes, the pro-choice groups argued that the “partial birth” abortion procedure as defined in the legislation was so vague that it could apply to most abortion procedures but, guess what, not one doctor has been prosecuted under this law. Geez, were our friends hyping things a little?
The fact is that the number of abortions has been decreasing every year, but lemme tell you honey, it ain’t because of these pesky little laws. It’s because young people are getting smarter, pure and simple. Just sit in on an 8th grade sex education class in your local high school and you’ll see what I mean.
If I were running some anti-abortion organization, I’d be looking at the Supreme Court. I’d be anticipating a one-term Obama presidency and I’d be trying to pass some outrageous anti-abortion legislation, just outlawing it outright, in the hopes that 10 years from now it would reach a possibly more conservative Court. But if the anti-abortion movement wants to waste their time on 24 hour waiting periods, I say go for it…..