Pro-Life Action League

. . . because action speaks louder than words.

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Q & A on abortion, the unborn child, where we stand on the issues and more

Q & A on abortion, the unborn child, where we stand on the issues and more

Helping abortion-bound women choose life for their babies

Unmasking the truth about abortion in the public square

Our youth outreach, raising up a new generation of pro-life leaders

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News and commentary from the Pro-Life Action League

Home Q & A How Dare You?

How Dare You?

We receive many questions from people who strongly object to our mission, philosophy or methods. Many of these questions begin with the phrase "How dare you . . ." We have used that phrase as the title of this page of our Q & A in the hope that such people will look here for our honest answers.

Not all the questions answered here begin with "How dare you," but they all share that sense of strong objection to, or even outrage about, our work. We hope our answers will, at the least, offer a first step towards greater understanding.

How dare you tell women what they can do with their bodies?

While it is certainly true that a woman's body is greatly impacted by pregnancy, it is not true that abortion is simply a matter of her choosing to do something with her body. The fetus growing within her womb is a separate person with its own distinct genetic makeup. Abortion does not remove some part of the woman's body; it destroys the body of a separate, unique individual.

That said, the truth is that pro-lifers cannot "force" a woman to choose life for her baby. Abortion is legal, and even if it weren't, illegal abortion would still be an option. That is why we seek instead to inform women about the consequences of abortion and do what we can to help her choose life for her unborn child.

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How dare you expose children to graphic abortion signs?

We wish it were possible for children to be shielded from the reality of abortion in our culture. We try to keep our public displays of graphic abortion signs away from places like parks and schools, and we set up warning signs in advance of these displays whenever possible.

However, it is inevitable that some children will see these signs, raising the concern of some parents. We respond to this concern at some length in an article in the Face the Truth section of our site:

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Do you want to return to the days of back alley abortion?

The idea of widespread and dangerous "back alley" abortions prior to the nationwide legalization of abortion in 1973 is not supported by the facts. The medical director of Planned Parenthood wrote in 1960:

Ninety percent of illegal abortions are being done by physicians. Call them what you will, abortionists or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such;... They must do a pretty good job if the death rate is as low as it is...Abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous because it is being done well by physicians [1].

It is impossible to know exactly how many illegal abortions were performed prior to 1973 for the simple reason that they were not reported. However, records were kept for the number of women who died from illegal abortions. When a woman was seriously injured during an abortion, she went to another doctor for care. If she died, the physician would not deliberately falsify her death certificate—an act punishable as a felony—to protect the abortionist. Thus, it stands to reason that prior to the nationwide legalization of abortion, deaths from illegal abortions were reported accurately.

Illegal Abortion Deaths Chart

The graph at right [2] was used on the floor of the U. S. Senate during hearings on abortion in 1981. Compiled from statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, it was not challenged by abortion supporters.

As you can see, after Penicillin became available to control infections, the number of deaths from abortion stabilized in the 1950s to about 250 per year. By 1966, when abortion was still illegal in all 50 states, the number of deaths had gradually dropped to half that number. And, in 1972, the year before the Supreme Court legalized abortion, only 39 women died—fewer than one per state.

The bottom line is that prior to the legalization of abortion, either there were not many illegal abortions, or illegal abortions were relatively safe.

Notes

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Why don't you care about babies once they're born?

Pro-lifers have developed a nationwide support system of Crisis Pregnancy Centers devoted to helping women face both pregnancy and the demands of being a new parent. CPCs provide the financial and emotional support to these women who chose to give life. While the League does not itself provide these services, we work closely with several of these centers and refer women to them regularly.

It is also important to note that abortion increases rates of child abuse and other violent acts. Decreasing the number of abortions means that fewer children will be abused; our activism, then, helps children in this way as well.

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Why don't you stop trying to impose your religion on others?

A person does not have to believe in God to be pro-life. Science shows us that the unborn child is a separate person from his or her mother, even though the mother is providing a place for the child to grow. Research of legalized abortion has also shown us that abortion hurts women and men and puts women at greater risk for a number of diseases in the short term and over time. These reasons are independent from religion and have persuaded individuals like author Nat Hentoff, a prominent Jewish atheist and political liberal to join the pro-life movement.

Though the injustice of abortion can be clearly established without depending on religious arguments, religious faith plays an important role in inspiring people to take an active part in confronting that injustice. In other words, pro-lifers who are religious do not oppose abortion simply because their religion tells them to; rather, recognizing that abortion is wrong, their faith compels them to do something to right that wrong.

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Why do you want to throw women in jail if they have abortions?

The pro-life movement does not want to put women in jail for having abortions. Pro-lifers consider women to be victimized by abortion, whether it is legal or illegal. Laws against abortion would impose penalties on the abortionist, not the woman.

According to the pro-choice writer Rachel Benson Gold, when abortion was still illegal, "women were rarely convicted for having an abortion; instead, the threat of prosecution often was used to encourage them to testify against the provider." Likewise, in states with laws restricting abortion today, penalties are imposed on the abortion practitioner, not the woman.

In fact, it was early feminists like Susan B. Anthony who fought to criminalize abortion in the 19th century. They recognized that abortion exploited and harmed women, so they called for new laws that would prevent doctors and other practitioners from performing abortions. If the law of the land on abortion were to change in the future, it would again be the abortion practitioners who would face penalties—not the women on whom they performed abortions.

For more information, see the article One Untrue Thing: Life After Roe for a more detailed response to this question by a number of scholars. This issue has also been addressed on our Generations for Life blog: How Much Jail Time for Women Who Have Abortions? [Back to Top]

Why isn't my objection listed on this page?

Some of the questions we frequently receive in the form of objections to our work may be found on other pages in the Questions and Answers section of this site, including:

Try also searching the Questions and Answers section for your question. If you do not find an answer, please contact us with your question, and we will direct you to an answer or answer your message personally.

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