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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

    Well gang, believe it or not, I have to go to bed. It's been fun encouraging all you sensible people to keep killing your babies, so long as that's what suits your desires at the time. Keep it up! I say a mother killing the child within her womb is the apex of human accomplishment!

    Being the Lion King and all, I want to leave you with a little ditty. It's sung (with vigor) to the tune of Hakuna Matata, naturally. It's called "Abort a Retard-a"

    Abort a retard-a, it's a wonderful thing!
    Abort a retard-a, and the humans race wins.

    You sing that at work tomorrow, and you will win the admiration and esteem of all right thinking people.

    Night, my fellow warriors.

    January 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  2. TakeResponsibility

    When the Pro-Life side takes financial responsibility for the pre-natal care, childcare, medical care and education of my child then I'll consider listening to them.

    January 29, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Lion King

      You're darn right, sista! I feel the same way. Unless someone gives me their money, assumes all my expenses, adopts me and my child, pays for all her medical, schooling, cars, college, etc., until someone does that, I reserve the right to kill her! You don't like it. Too bad. My body, my choice!

      You go girl!

      January 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Take Your Own Advice

      It's a shame that what should have started as personal responsibility is now being put on the "Pro-Lifers". It starts with how we live our lives. Take your own advice and take responsibility for how you live.

      How's this for an argument from the voice of the unborn... "Mom, it's sad and shameful that you didn't want me. What was the price you put on my head? Oh, it was the price of all those doctors, delivery, diapers, school. You mean all the stuff parents are supposed to provide? I guess I just wasn't good enough for you to put up that kind of investment in my life. What I wonder is how you could have ever come to the decision that I should have to pay for your irresponsibility with my life. Well, hope you enjoy it and make the best of it. At my cost!"

      January 29, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  3. ann west

    💀The issue is dead. When abortions were illegal people got them anyway and died doing so. The Pro Life People would have women bleeding to death and the child dying anyway. Use your brain people are killing their toddlers everyday , do something about the "already born babies" being killed. 👶

    January 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Lion King

      Last year 46,000 women died as a result of abortion. 46,000,000 children died (world wide, both) Thats 1% of all abortions end in the death of the mother. I say keep on perfecting the procedure until 100% of the babies die without a single former mom losing so much as a morning of work

      January 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Katman2

      What's really sad is that their are still, to this day, numerous people living in the make-believe world that abortion doesn't harm anyone. They have conditioned themselves into looking the other way when a baby in the womb is murdered. They ignore all the times that women die from abortions-gone-wrong. The psychological damage done to the women who made the mistake of having an abortion is staggering. I have witnessed the results too often. That is why the abortion issue won't go away. Their are people like me who care enough to stand up to the evil of abortion and just say "no".

      January 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      When the pro-lifers start demonstrating in the streets to stop capital punishment and war, I will believe they are sincere. Until then they are just another kind of jihadist.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  4. Proud Abortionist

    Why can't the United States be a civilized country like, say, the Netherlands and fully affirm women's reproductive rights?

    January 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Reasoner

      Because abortion is a deplorable practice. We agree that it should be safe and legal, but it is to be abhorred.

      January 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Lion King

      Every abortion performed, is one step closer to perfecting humanity. It's a triumph of the human spirit!!! You just keep on killing. You're my hero!

      January 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Lion King

      I hope you focus your killing to blacks, Jews, Hispanics, and other undesirables

      January 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  5. nitual

    We always leave out the perpetrators in this issue: MEN – without them, there would be no unwanted pregnancies in the world and very few abortions, i.e., no deposit, no return! How about education and global prevention of pregnancies through free birth control, plan B and abortions IF ALL ELSE FAILS!! With 7-billion on the Planet, we barely take care of the ones who are already here.

    January 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Lion King

      Hey man. This ain't an OWS page. Get outta here.

      January 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  6. Lion King

    I'm hoping to cast it thusly:

    Gloria Steinham as "Nurse Ratchett"

    Bill Clinton as "Doctor Gyno"

    Lady Gaga as "Little Miss Understood"

    Jon Stewart as the wise-cracking "Fetus"

    And the decaying carcus of Christopher Hitchens as "god"

    This is gonna be BIG folks. I can just see it now......
    "Frank Rich of the New Yorker raves: 'Run, don't walk...Bring your daughters...A treat for the WHOLE family'"

    January 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  7. Lion King

    I've just selected some new songs to add to the musical comedy I'm writing about abortion. It's gonna be like Roe v Wade meets High School Musical. Some of the other numbers will be:

    Don't Fear the Reaper

    It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding

    Baby Come Back

    Witchy Woman

    Big Girls Don't Cry

    The Bi+ch Is Back

    January 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Lion King

      The finale is the entire cast ensemble comes out on stage and leads the then standing audience in a rousing chorus of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"

      January 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Lion Mom

      Nice, but you certainly dated yourself as someone with a minimum age of 40.

      January 29, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      You've got a serious social connection issue when you are driven to reply to your own posts. Do you have friends? Do they mind you talking to yourself?

      January 29, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  8. ghhshirley

    Don't like abortion? Don't have one. My body, My choice.

    January 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  9. Lion King

    Well, gotta run to my PETA meeting now.

    Keep the faith (don't worry, it's just an expression).

    January 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  10. Ashlen

    Keep your laws off my ovaries! it is MY body and I will do with it what I please. No one should have a say in what one chooses to do with his/her own body. Move on.

    January 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Lion King

      I'm with you, sister. Kill, kill, kill!

      January 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • SomeKnow

      Unfortunatley Ashlen,
      for African American impoverished women, living in New York apparently, do not have a choice. The abortion lie is finally showing it's true colors. The age gap between young and mature women having abortions is disgusting, and the gap in racial demography is alarming. And yet, women like you will chant, "It's my body!" There is no logic in an act that can damage a females delicate reproductive organs, or the damage it can do to her mentally. These women have little to NO follow up mental care! Where is the outreach work to these poor souls after the abortion? None. Miscarriages are hard enough, but a woman who voluntarily puts her fetus on the chopping block needs so much mental care. The guilt and frustration and pain they go through after is devastatingly sad. One could stand to say that we, pro-Life campaigners, are more concerned for a womans well being than roe vs wade ever could.
      I am 100% pro-life Athiest. Do not find logic in brutality. Because there is none. We also don't have the right, as a civilized society, to pick and chose what lives or dies. That's a communist as you can get. Wake up America!! They're taking your dignity and your money, what a shame.

      January 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • momoya

      SomeKnow, Certainly a percentage of women need counseling after having abortion. What does that have to do with the medical procedure? Are clinics and hospitals usually the ones to council the recipients of the nature of the care they received and how to mentally cope with that care? No. Your argument is that because some women who get abortions need psychiatric care that choice should not be available to them. That simply doesn't make sense. If a women comes from a culture and belief that will likely cause her to experience much post-abortion guilt, then she should take care to set up some counseling sessions as she feels are appropriate. Medical professionals aren't in the habit of refusing to provide care on the basis that the procedure causes guilt in some people, and certainly the possible need of counseling should not factor into the law's decision on what type of medical care women should be provided. If you think women need counseling concerning their abortions then you should advocate that; to leap from that position to being "pro-life" is a long, weird leap. If the emotional and mental issues as you perceive them were proven not to exist, would you be pro-choice?

      January 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  11. A Christian

    Once the sperm gets into that egg, there is life. Your very own DNA has taken the form on life in another.
    he "morning after" pill is no different than a 9 month abortion.

    My wife has a friend who had an abortion when she was 17-18 years old. She's now 30 and has been trying to get pregnant for several years. The doctors say that she's not capable of having children, so she's been going through these huge medical experiments in trying to do so. TENS OF THOUSANDS $$.

    I'm sure she thinks about that abortion everytime.

    January 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Lion King

      How can you say that? I've seen pictures of recently fertilized eggs. They sure don't LOOK human to me. You can't even see them without a microscope. They don't become human until the mother decides she wants it.

      January 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • SomeKnow

      I have heard this story over and over from poor women who are given the opportunity to have an abortion. My own relatives too. I spoke with my OBG and she claimed that there are hardly any studies on women who have had abortions and the physical damage that can occur subsequently. And the worst thing is, when you ask these women how different their lives would be with a baby, most know that it wouldn't have been much.
      I am 100% pro life, athiest. There is not logical explanation to abortion. It's a violent act against another living creature, and a violent act against the woman herself. There are two victims in abortion, not just one. That is what this country fails to see, when they do, ppl like us will be ready to fight for them. :)

      January 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Miguel

      Life doesn't begin until something can sustain its self. A newly fertilized egg cannot do that. So life doesnt start until about the beginning of the third trimester.

      January 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  12. Lion King

    I firmly believe that M. Vick should have gotten the electric chair for what he did to those poor dogs!

    January 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Kalvin Jefferson

      What in God,s holy name does Michael Vick have to do with this discussion,try staying on point wont you!

      January 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  13. momoya

    Lion King, seriously, go see a doctor. Something in your head has snapped.

    January 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Lion King

      You can't talk to me like that! I'm a highly respected member of this community

      January 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  14. Lion King

    Some of the musical numbers in the show....

    Look Ma, No Hands!

    Doctor, Doctor

    Stuck on You

    Oops, I did it again!

    Welcome to the Machine

    January 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  15. Lion King

    Possible name for the show: I Swear By Apollo

    January 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  16. Lion King

    Hey, my script was pretty good! I'm writing a musical comedy about abortion, that could be one of the scenes!

    January 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  17. Lion King

    Conversation between an abortionist father (aka "gynecologist") and his 5 yr old daughter.

    Girl: Daddy, what do you do for a living?

    Doc: (In lovie-dovie voice) Sweetheart, daddy kills little babies when there still inside their mommy's tummy!

    Girl: Little babies?

    Doc: Yes dear, itty bitty babies.

    Girl: But why?

    Doc: Because their mommies and daddies don't love them or want them!

    Girl: (grabbing her dolly) You're not going to kill my baby, are you daddy?

    Doc: No sweetie, you don't have enough money!

    January 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  18. hokiestone

    Why is it that men can legislate laws regarding womens' bodies? If you're against abortion, don't get one. Otherwise, leave everyone else alone.

    January 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • JP

      That's right! And why limit it to abortion. A mother should have the right to kill the baby after it's born. Perhaps lethal injection.

      January 30, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  19. momoya

    @catholic engineer

    Perhaps you don't know what "irony" means. It doesn't have to do with irony, it has to do with each person living with their own world view. Maybe most women who get abortions will be more susceptible to the dominant religion of their society, and so they will plunge into the comfort and its method of "justifying" the proselyte. Who cares?

    Life has such a range of possibilities that each person goes through her own unique experiences. In various instances (such as being a "burden") humans feel more or less guilt depending on their viewpoint shaped by their choices. Maybe a lot of women will feel really horrible and guilty, but that will be on their conscience. It's not society's job to keep people from feeling badly about themselves and their choices. If a women feels she wants an abortion and she can say that her god will forgive her once she says a few magic words, let her. If a women feels that the pregnancy and the child are not suitable for her, she should be able to rid those few cells of her body by her own reasoning and determination with the confidence that she will be able to say she made the most logical choice. She will be the one to remind herself when she needs to.

    Besides, possible guilt or depression doesn't stop murderers. Whatever their rationalization, they murder. So it seems a moot point to bring up, "OH noooes, them folk gonna' feel guilty!! Oh snap!!"

    January 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  20. Queen Lattice

    keep it legal; keep it safe
    and keep YOUR opinions out of MY UTERUS.
    *PRAISE GOD FOR PERSONAL CHOICE!!!!!!

    January 29, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Lion King

      Amen sister!

      January 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Beth

      Yes, PRAISE GOD! Praise God that I can "dispose of" that annoying little "blob of tissue" growing like a "cancer" inside of my uterus. PRAISE GOD that I don't have to take responsibility for my actions. PRAISE GOD that I can use abortion as a method of birth control. PRAISE GOD that I can remove His creation from my uterus because it's inconvenient, despite the fact that thousands of sterile couples in the United States and abroad could give my unwanted child a happy home.

      Oh and P.S., I have a va****. That seems to an important fact to bring up in these debates, because apparently, a man's opinion is invalid because he doesn't have one.

      January 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Lion King

      @Beth

      Unless you personally are willing to take in and raise the 1,300,000 children
      Who are going to be aborted this year, mind your own business!

      January 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • SomeKnow

      @ Lion King.
      Seriously, that's the argument. Has adoption completely lost it's credibility. You have couples willing to go as far as China to adopt, when given the chance to do it locally they would. How about this, taking responsibility for your actions as Beth said. What are we teaching our young women? That it's alright to make a mistake, then kill it, then move on? I am no Christian, by any means, and do not believe that God has anything to do with my reproductive system. But I have enough sense to know that we are teaching an entire generation that murder, mutilation, self-degradation is perfectly fine.
      We are women, we are powerful, but abortion is not the way. We women can do anything we set our minds to. Work, go to school, raise children. WE need our mothers our sisters, our aunts to show us that it's possible to do these things without devaluing life. Life is amazing, it's worth dying for, it's worth fighting for. That is why so many fight so hard for it. We see the devalue of life everyday in countries like Africa. And yet they would chose to keep the baby, why? Because they've seen the most evil–the devaluing of their childrens life. Their babies die everyday, but given a chance to bring that baby back–they would. I'm sorry, but life doesn't have to be "the creators gift" to be a gift. Look around you. All the privilages you enjoy–are now ripped from that of your unborn childs.

      January 29, 2012 at 2:52 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.