Debate Club

The Toll From Legalized Abortion


If you want some sense of the human toll that abortion has taken on our country, know that in the time it takes you to read half this article, another unborn baby's life will be extinguished by abortion.

Some 55 million elective abortions have been performed in the United States since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973. If you do the math, that's one abortion roughly every 25 seconds—for 40 years.

We were told that Roe, by eliminating "unwanted" preborn children, would lead to happier families and less child abuse, and that it would lessen the economic strain of families that couldn't afford more mouths to feed. The exact opposite has happened. Since 1973, the share of children living in poverty has soared, according to the Census Bureau, from 14.4 percent in 1973 to 22 percent in 2011.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

The Supreme Court's declaration that unborn babies have no constitutional rights has also coincided with a rise in the divorce rate. And while roughly 13 percent of children were born to unwed mothers in 1973, 41 percent of children are now born out of wedlock. In fact, as of 2009, the majority of new mothers under 30 were unmarried.

Abortion has also contributed to a rise in STD rates. A 2006 study in the Journal of Legal Studies found that by lowering the cost of sexual activity, legalized abortion encouraged people to engage in more and more reckless sex, prompting an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. Researchers found that abortion was legalized there was up to a 25 percent increase in gonorrhea and syphilis rates across the country. There are also peer-reviewed studies suggesting that having an abortion increases a woman's risk of breast cancer, depression, placenta previa, subsequent premature births, and low birth-weight babies. Numerous studies find that abortion is strongly correlated with higher risk of drug abuse and alcoholism.

[See Photos: The 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade.]

And despite the abortion industry's efforts to "normalize" abortion, most women just don't see it as a positive experience. A 2009 poll found that of people who knew a woman who had had an abortion, 55 percent said her abortion was a negative experience, and only 33 percent a positive experience.

It would be wrong to place the blame for these negative trends on abortion alone. But it is undeniable that the wholesale destruction of innocent human life has contributed to a coarsening of our culture, the exploitation of women, an unraveling of the family, and a poverty of the soul.

Gary Bauer

About Gary Bauer President of American Values

health care
women's health

Other Arguments

32 Pts
Abortion Is Not Prowoman, Prolife Is Prowoman

Yes – Abortion Is Not Prowoman, Prolife Is Prowoman

Penny Nance President and CEO of Concerned Women for America

27 Pts
Women Are Not Better Off Because of Abortion

Yes – Women Are Not Better Off Because of Abortion

Connie Mackey President of the Family Research Council Action PAC.

12 Pts
The 'Prochoice' Movement Is Selfish

Yes – The 'Prochoice' Movement Is Selfish

Gary Marx Executive Director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition

9 Pts
Legal Abortion Can Be a Lifeline

No – Legal Abortion Can Be a Lifeline

Terry O'Neill President of the National Organization for Women

-26 Pts
Access to Safe and Legal Abortions Protect Women

No – Access to Safe and Legal Abortions Protect Women

Eric Ferrero Vice President for Communications for Planned Parenthood Federation of America

-26 Pts
We Must Stand Up to Efforts to Roll Back Abortion Rights

No – We Must Stand Up to Efforts to Roll Back Abortion Rights

Debra Ness President of the National Partnership for Women & Families

You Might Also Like

See More