My Take: Why the abortion issue won’t go away
The 2011 Right to Life march in Washington.
January 23rd, 2012
10:01 AM ET

My Take: Why the abortion issue won’t go away

Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

By R. Albert Mohler Jr., Special to CNN

After recently addressing a large secular assembly on issues of moral controversy, I turned and faced a woman who urgently wanted to ask me a question: “Why won’t the abortion issue just go away?”

I knew exactly what she was asking. I often meet abortion rights advocates who honestly thought that the national controversy over abortion would simply melt away within a few years of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.

That was clearly the hope of the Supreme Court majority that signed onto the opinion written by Associate Justice Harry Blackmun. In a note he wrote to himself as he drafted the final opinion and looked to its aftermath, Blackmun revealed a rather optimistic assumption: “It will be an unsettled period for a while.”

Surely, he didn’t mean for that “while” to extend four decades.

Sunday marked the 39th anniversary of the decision, and the abortion question is anything but settled. Just look at the crowds gathering in Washington on Monday for the annual March for Life.

In fact, America has been unsettled ever since Roe. Abortion has become a central issue of political conflict, debate and division. If the court had hoped to calm the waters, it failed spectacularly.

As Guido Calabresi, then dean of the Yale Law School, observed, the aftermath of Roe v. Wade produced a “sense of desperate embattlement.” As Calabresi noted, the court’s decision failed to produce a national consensus. Rather, Roe “made it impossible for the opposing views to live with each other.”

Those who thought that the decision of the Supreme Court would settle the issue had reason for that hope. On other controversial questions, the court’s rulings had produced initial furor and outrage, but the nation rather quickly accommodated itself to those decisions. Take integration in public schools.

Not so with abortion.

Why? Professor Lawrence H. Tribe of the Harvard Law School, an ardent defender of abortion rights, at least recognized that the abortion question presents nothing less than a “clash of absolutes.”

Tribe attempted to propose a means of avoiding “pitting these absolutes against one another.” All such efforts have failed, precisely because the competing claims are indeed absolutes.

When abortion-rights advocates and their allies ask why the abortion issue will not just go away, they really mean to ask why, given the stark reality of Roe, the pro-life movement has not dissipated and retreated into the history books.

Here are five reasons why:

First, the radical character of Roe – overthrowing abortion laws in 49 states – galvanized pro-life forces. The judicial imposition of abortion on demand, virtually without restriction until the third trimester, produced both shock and outrage among those who believe that the unborn child has an inalienable right to life.

Within months of Roe, an organized pro-life movement came into shape, looking for any means of limiting and eventually ending the termination of unborn life.

Second, Roe also had the effect, surely unforeseen by the Supreme Court, of bringing millions of evangelical Christians into the fight on behalf of unborn life. Prior to Roe, even many evangelicals believed that abortion was a Roman Catholic issue.

Roe was a legal earthquake that awakened a massive number of evangelicals to the deadly reality of abortion. With remarkable speed, evangelicals soon educated themselves on the issue and then mobilized themselves both politically and culturally.

Third, the death spiral of abortion simply defies adequate calculation. Over a million abortions are performed in America each year. Reports last year indicated that over 40% of all pregnancies in New York end in abortion, a rate that increases to almost 60% of pregnancies among African-American women.

The sheer scale of the death toll sears the pro-life conscience. Young people can now see that millions are missing from their own generation.

Fourth, abortion has proved to be exactly what pro-life activists warned it would be: a deadly threat to human dignity that would target specific populations. Prenatal testing has produced a deadly reality for unborn babies considered less than acceptable by their parents.

The vast majority (90%) of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are now aborted. Sex-selection abortions are legal in the wide-open “right” to abortion declared by the court. Prenatal testing of other characteristics means that parents can now abort a baby that does not meet their specifications and try again.

Fifth, powerful imaging technologies now allow a look inside the womb, a privilege unknown to previous generations. That window has transformed the equation, as millions of parents have seen their unborn children and witnessed the miracle of life.

They have seen the little human form and the actions of the unborn child, sucking its thumb as it nestles within its mother. Millions of siblings have seen the images of their unborn brothers and sisters taped to the refrigerator door.

Those of us who believe that every single unborn child has a right to be born cannot resign from the effort to protect those lives.

The greatest advances made by the pro-life movement have been made among the young, the generation that has known the death toll from Roe v. Wade all their lives. More evidence that the abortion issue will not simply go away.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of R. Albert Mohler Jr.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Abortion • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (1,716 Responses)
  1. Lion King

    For you number crunchers and statistics enthusiasts.... On average, 2.4 babies are aborted every minute in this country, 24/7 365.

    I wonder what kind of $$$ those doctors make? These doctors must swell with pride on "Bring your daughter to work day!"

    January 29, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  2. Leucadia Bob


    January 29, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  3. Lion King

    I'm going to pitch some new ideas for Hallmark cards to them that I think should do well.

    You send them to your female friends after an abortion. So they are:

    2) Your father and I are so proud of you.
    3) You Go Girl!

    For blacks:
    1) Ain't no big thang!

    For environmentalists
    1) Thank you for saving the planet
    2) Now that's what I call recycling!

    For Jews:
    1) Mazel Tov!

    January 29, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Lion King

      Then you write words of encouragement on the inside. These will be available in money-holder additions as well.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  4. Lion King

    I believe that it is the most natural and normal thing in the world for a woman to kill her own child! It's called "maternal instinct," or a "woman's prerogative" or something like that.

    January 29, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  5. PrimeNumber

    Women have been fetuses for most of history. In a "man's" world they had a hard time existing without a man. Sometimes they had to sell their bodies to survive. They have been unviable. Honorable men would work away their lives in hell holes to provide for women. Men accepted the burden. So women have been unviable burdens. But now men have brought women to term. "My body, my choice!" Then let them be respnsible for their bodies. Let them buy their own dream houses, huge life insurance policies, groceries, medecines, cars, cloths, etc. At least pro-choice women.

    January 29, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  6. George Marshall

    Too boring to comment on.

    January 29, 2012 at 7:26 am |
  7. Sinba

    Abortionists kill their unborn because they don't deserve them. THEY DON'T DESERVE TO BECOME A MOTHER.

    January 29, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  8. Numbers don't lie

    Let's do the math.


    Total US population= 309,000,000
    Beliver's population= 88%
    Atheist= 4%

    309,000,000 x 88%= 271,920,000-believers

    309,000,000 x 4%= 12,360,000-atheists


    Abortion rate:

    Believers- 70%

    atheists- 10%

    271,920,000 x 70% = 190,344,000-believers undergone abortion (This is HUGE)
    12,360,000 x 4% = 494,400-atheist undergone abortion (an ant to elephant compared with believers)

    But that was a CATCH!

    The WHOLE TRUTH is....

    271,920,000/190,344,000= 1.5-believers undergone abortion per capita.
    12,360,000/494,400= 25-atheists undergone abortion per capita.

    The 70% of believers that atheists have been yammering all this time is equivalent only to less than two person per capita. While the 10% that atheist made-up is equivalent to astonishing 25 people.

    See? which is bigger 70% or 10%? Think again and dig deeper.

    I hope it will serve as a warning to us all, beware of atheists deceptions. They are very good in clothing their lies as truth.

    Don't be fooled, THINK!!! ATHEISTISM is ONLY for the WEAK MINDS.

    January 29, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Your numbers indicate that you have no idea what 70% represents. I'll leave it to you to figure out your error, but I will agree that you can use the statistics to show that believers have fewer abortions than non-believers as a percentage of each population. But! It is believers that claim the high moral ground and have specific prohibitions against abortion, contraception, premarital sex, adultery, lying, etc. The number of abortions had by believers and the rate at which believers have abortions should significantly less than for godless, immoral non-believers! If there is a god and he has any power at all, why do any believers have an abortion?

      January 29, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • Don't do math

      It's 70% of abortions are committed by people who identify themselves as believers, not 70% of believers have had an abortion. So you need the real number of abortions committed per year, then 70% of that is done by believers, then put that into the population of believers to get per capita. It very well might be higher per capita for Atheists, however if believers would put their money where their mouths are they could instantly drop the abortion rate by 70%. Who gives a damn if the atheist rate is higher per capita, the REAL NUMBERS are 70 out of 100 babies are being killed by someone who is religious. Atheists are only responsible for 30 of em, you believers are responsible for 70.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Yeah don't do math

      You did per capita wrong even with using the wrong data is is the abortion number/population number not the other way around, then multiplied by 100k to get rid of the number. So:
      190344000/271920000 = .7 then x100k = 70,000 abortions per 100000 people, or 70%. The atheists by your numbers (which are actually low, you used 4% a second time instead of 10%) would be4,000 per 100,000. So sorry, more believers are doing it per capita by a considerable margin using your terrible math. Like the other guy said, we need different numbers to calculate this correcty.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Numbers don't lie

      It only means that religious are also human, have the tendency to commit mistakes. But as long as we considered it as mistake or sin we still have a chance for forgiveness.

      But making a mistake to become right, legal and moral is definitely another story and dreadful one.

      The figures that have been presented were not intended to justify the mistakes comitted by religious but to expose your deceitful agenda.

      The 70% is what believers having abortion represent in the entire earth's populace that you've been yammering all along.

      With regards to any error with my figures. It's hard to figure out nothing.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Numbers don't lie

      "It's 70% of abortions are committed by people who identify themselves as believers, not 70% of believers have had an abortion"

      If you want to base figures with your own perspective NOT by demographic data shown by reliable surveys. Then you're hanging in thin air.

      "NUMBERS are 70 out of 100 babies are being killed by someone who is religious. Atheists are only responsible for 30 of em, you believers are responsible for 70."

      So you mean, I was very generous to ahteists with my figures? Then thanks for the compliment and for proving me right that ATHEISM IS ONLY FOR THE WEAK MINDS.

      Your second post streghten (my point) it as well.

      You should have followed your own moniker. You might have spared yourself and your fellow atheist from stumbling in the mud of terrible shame. You should not light your dimbulb to guide their way.

      January 29, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Numbers don't lie, it is now obvious that not only can you not do simple math, you cannot read and comprehend simple words. You were provided with the correct explanation but you chose to ignore it. You then went on to continue to argue for your incorrect analysis, glossing over the errors you made. Finally, you blow off believer's contributions to the abortion toll (70+% of all abortions in the USA each year are had by believers = about 780,000 lost potential cult members) with the old "we are all sinners..." crap.

      When are believers going to hold themselves accountable for their own behavior according their own stated rules? When are believers going to stop blaming others and when are they going to quit trying to changes the laws for everyone, especially given that they have clear evidence that rules, even when backed up by an alledged god, don't work?

      January 29, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Facts Reveal

      To settle the issue know which is telling the truth, we must know and establish which party that are poupulary known as bald-faced liars.

      Google, Roe VS. Wade and listen what Normay Mconvey and Linda coffee have to say with the issue.

      If you want the truth, hear it from the horses' mouth NOT from BALD FACE LIARS?

      January 30, 2012 at 3:51 am |
    • myklds

      I hope this might help to resolve the issue:


      US population = 309M
      Abortion population = 1.2M

      Believers (%) of the US Population = 88%
      Non-believers (%) of the US Population = 12%

      Believers abortion rate = 70%
      Non-believers abortion rate = 30%

      To compute per Capita:
      Abortion Population/US Population x segment share/segment population X 100K

      1200000/3090= 388.35 X 70% = 271.85/88% = 308.914 or 308,914 believers per capita

      1200000/3090= 388.35 X 30% = 116.51/12% = 970.873 or 970,873 non-believers per capita.

      January 30, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Simple Mind

      Assuming that the abortion rate sky rocketed to 20% of US population. That would be more ore less 61.7 million. And we all know that atheists (not including other non-believers) make up only 4% of US population, that would be roughly 12.5 million

      Hence, even if ALL atheist has undergone abortion in agiven year, that would only 20+% of abortion population.

      Thus, they could still boast on top of their God allergic lungs that 70+% of abortions are done by believers.

      January 30, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  9. catholic engineer

    When the abortion supporters are faced with an unwanted pregnancy and all the cost, inconvenience, disappointed plans, and responsibility that come with it, they have an easy out under the law. Apparently, most abortions even happen without remorse. But what happens four decades later? When the abortion supporters are old, arthritic, wear diapers for incontinence, minds and eyes failing? Then the abortionist is an enormous burden to himself. What then?

    January 28, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • momoya

      What point are you trying to make? People who have abortions will be more depressed then those who haven't? Very few people take care of their elderly parents anyway. And I myself will refuse to be an annoyance to my children; I would rather that they be out living their lives and enjoying the universe.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      I'll put it another way. The abortionist points a finger at a unborn child and the words "you are a nuiscence and a burden." are herd. Late in life, the finger is now pointing at the old abortionist and similar words are heard: " now YOU are the burden. Not only to others, but even to yourself." It's an extremely ironic turnaround.

      January 28, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Once again I remind believers that 70+% of the abortions performed in the USA each year are had by believers. If believers truly want to significantly reduce the number of abortions, they should stop having them.

      January 29, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • Lion King


      I hope when the time comes when you become more burdensome that you "do the right thing," if you know what I mean.

      January 29, 2012 at 5:27 am |
  10. Lion King

    I am against waterboarding on the grounds that it's cruel and inhumane!

    January 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  11. Lion King

    Come on America! China had 10x's the number if abortions that we did last year, but they're only 4x's our population. You're not going to let them beat us are you? Where's your patriotic spirit??? USA. USA USA!!!

    January 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Liam

      China is exactly why we continue to support legalized abortions in this country. Do we really want to end up like that?

      January 29, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  12. TheRationale

    Interesting how people seem to care about these kids only until they're born.

    January 28, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Lion King

      I say kill them any time on the continuum of life. If they're inconvenient – snuff'em!

      January 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Hard Luck

      I`d argue the opposite. Tons of laws protecting babies that are born. The unborn potentially have to suffer death by whim.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Gini

      To "Hard luck "and all others who agree with him...Women who have abortions don't have them on whim. Get your facts straight.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  13. Lion King

    Unless you have had to take care of a sick, screaming child, who costs money, and eats food, and needs MY attention, and unless YOU YOUSELF is willing to assume all those responsibilities for me, than you should have NOTHING to say if I decide to KILL my child. It's none of your business! It's my choice how to deal with my personal parasite.

    January 28, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • J.W

      OMG you are a nutcase. Do you really think you are helping your cause here?

      January 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Lion King

      What could you mean?

      January 28, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Hard Luck

      Your are funny as hell.

      January 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Gini

      "Lion King" You are parading as a pro-choice person. Sad. The way you write tells me and and all other educated people that you are trying to make pro-choicers look cruel, selfish and uneducated, among other descriptors. Why don't you write truthfully and say what you really mean. I don't need idiots like you to talk for me. You are not a pro-choice person but a wolf in sheeps clothing. You also need to know women have abortions not on whims. Since you have never walked in their shoes you will never have an idea. I imagine you also hate women by the way you write.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  14. Lion King

    I am tickled and proud to live in a country that aborts more black children than it gives birth to. I HAVE A DREAM!

    January 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  15. Lion King

    I AM INVICIBLE, I am woman!

    January 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  16. Lion King

    If it's legal, it's moral!!! KILL KILL KILL

    January 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  17. Lion King

    Don't let any geneticist, biologist, or crazy religious person tell you that is a human. It's not! It's "your body, your choice" KILL KILL KILL! Amen!!!!

    January 28, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  18. Yoko

    Every woman should have an abortion, at least one. I've had several. Scr*ape, scr*ape, swoosh. I've flushed a whole kindergarten. It's my choice, so don't bug me about it.

    January 28, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Lion King

      Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi thank you for your service to our country and womanhood!

      January 28, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      I personally know a woman who has had four abortions. One day she mused, "I don't know who's going to take care of me when I'm old." Well, darned if I know. Certainly none of the kids I raised.

      January 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Hard Luck

      LMWAO at Yoko. It really does put their "choice" in perspective,

      January 28, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  19. Lion King

    And after you've killed a couple million more, turn the tables again, and accuse those so-called pro-life people of being stingy for not wanting to bankroll your family. Yeah! You win the moral high ground when you say, "Hey, I'm saving you money!" KILL KILL KILL

    January 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  20. Lion King

    To all my pro-choice friends, I say to you:Just keep killing and killing and killing and killing!!! Morality is based on your convenience! Go for it. Everything revolves around your whims. Kill, kill, kill!

    January 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Sorry

      Okay, I will... murder murder murder, yay!

      February 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.