Pro-Choice Arguments

Pro-Choice Arguments

In talking about abortion with people who are pro-choice, you will encounter many different arguments against the pro-life side. Some of these arguments are directed to the abortion issue itself, while others focus more on the perceived hypocrisy or insensitivity of pro-lifers.

Offered here are brief responses to the most common pro-choice arguments, summing up the key points to raise in response to each. For more detailed treatment of these issues, consult the resources page.

“Fetus” is a Latin term meaning “little one”, used to describe a stage of development, just like “infant”
or “adult.” According to the law of biogenesis, a fetus conceived by human parents, and growing according to the instructions in its own human genetic code, is by definition human.

Human life is a continuum, beginning with the newly conceived zygote, moving through the stages of embryo and fetus on through to adult. Although a fetus doesn’t look like an adult yet, neither does a newborn baby. A human fetus is no less human simply because it is smaller and more delicate.

For that matter, neither is an embryo less human, though it looks quite strange to our eyes, even in comparison to a fetus. Still, it is our duty to recognize our common humanity at all stages of development.

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Sometimes, supporters of legal abortion will concede that an embryo or a fetus is, scientifically speaking, a human being, while denying that it is a person with rights. However, when pressed, they can point to no meaningful distinction between human beings and human persons. “Personhood” is a philosophical term, not a scientific one, and
ultimately depends on individual, subjective beliefs rather than common, objective values.

Moreover, history is replete with attempts to exclude certain categories of human beings from the class of “persons” enjoying human rights, in an attempt to rationalize such injustices as slavery or genocide. Human rights are meaningless unless they belong to all human beings, without discrimination.

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While there are unwanted pregnancies, there truly are no unwanted children. Even if a pregnant woman does not want to raise the child growing in her womb, someone else does. There are many more couples seeking to adopt than children available for adoption.

But even if a child were “unwanted,” it would still be wrong to kill them for not being wanted—just as it would be wrong to kill a child already born if her mother decided she no longer wanted her.

Moreover, no woman really wants to have an abortion. An unwanted abortion is no solution to an unwanted pregnancy.

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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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Despite the claims of some abortion advocates, support for abortion among the American public is rather shallow. Though many Americans will tell pollsters they support Roe v. Wade, few realize that Roe and its companion case Doe v. Bolton made abortion legal for almost any reason through all nine months of pregnancy.

  • See also What did Roe v. Wade decide? and What did Doe v. Bolton decide?

In fact, 49% of Americans say they believe abortion is “morally wrong,” while only 42% say they believe abortion is “morally acceptable.” Moreover, research shows most Americans do not approve of abortion for the reasons women most commonly cite for procuring them, and significant majorities support restrictions on abortion like parental involvement
laws and bans on partial birth abortion.

  • See also Why do women have abortions?

What’s more, 48% of Americans actually identify themselves as “pro-life,” while only 45% identify themselves as “pro-choice.”


Cloyd, Wendy. “Public Support for Roe v. Wade Declines.” Christian Examiner. June 2007. Link

Gallup. Abortion. July 1, 2013. Link.

Saad, Lydia. “Americans Favor Parental Involvement in Teen Abortion Decisions.” Gallup. November 30, 2005. Link.

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The simple answer to this question—which is the one pro-choice people raise more often than any other—is that a child conceived through rape or incest does not deserve the death penalty for her father’s crime. However, the fully pro-life response to this question must also convey sympathy for the victims of rape and incest, whom research shows are likely to suffer more if they resort to abortion.

One large-scale study of pregnant rape victims found that approximately 70 percent chose to give birth. Many sexual assault victims see giving birth as a selfless, loving act that helps bring healing from the horrific experience of the rape itself. Women who abort children conceived through rape often report that they didn’t feel that they had any other choice, since everyone around them assumed that they would not want to give birth to a rapist’s baby.

The case against abortion for pregnant victims of incest is even stronger. Incest victims hardly ever voluntarily consent to an abortion. Rather than viewing the pregnancy as unwanted, the victim of incest is more likely to see the pregnancy as a way to get out of the incestuous relationship because it exposes the abusive sexual activity that family
members are either unaware of or unwilling to acknowledge. The pregnancy poses a threat to the perpetrator, who frequently attempts to coerce his incest victim to have an unwanted abortion.

The idea that the violent act of abortion is beneficial to victims of rape and incest is simply unfounded. On the contrary, evidence shows that abortion in such cases compounds the unspeakable pain that victims experience.

Moreover, given that one-third of one percent of abortions are performed under such circumstances, we might ask why this question is so frequently raised. Do these extremely rare cases justify tolerating the other 99.67% of abortions?
Would those who raise this objection really be willing to ban abortion if exceptions were made for rape and incest?


Johnston, Wm. Robert. “Reasons given for having abortions in the United States.” Johnston’s Archive. Last modified August 16, 2012. http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/abreasons.html.

Mahkorn, Sandra. “Pregnancy and Sexual Assault.” In The Psychological Aspects of Abortion, edited by David Mall and Walter F. Watts, 55-69. Washington: University Publications of America, 1979.

Maloof, George E. “The Consequences of Incest: Giving and Taking Life.” In The Psychological Aspects of Abortion, edited by David Mall and Walter F. Watts, 84-85. Washington: University Publications of America, 1979.

Reardon, David, PhD, Julie Makimaa, and Amy Sobie. Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault. Battle Creek: Acorn Publishing, 2000.

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Despite some highly publicized cases, violence perpetrated by abortion opponents is extremely rare. All major pro-life organizations have official policies condemning the use of violence, and no cases of violence directed at abortion-bound women by pro-life activists have ever been substantiated, despite the rhetoric from some abortion advocates.

The few individuals who have committed acts of violence against abortion clinic personnel or property were not part of the mainstream pro-life movement, and in some cases have even admitted they were more motivated by a desire for fame
than concern for the plight of unborn children.

In fact, there have been more reported acts of violence perpetrated against pro-lifers than committed by them. Just as it would be unfair to characterize all pro-choice people as violent because of a few criminals, it is unfair to say that pro-lifers are violent because of a few fringe figures.

On the contrary, pro-life activism demands singular patience and peacefulness, which is why the pro-life movement is, in fact, the most peaceful protest movement in U.S. history.


Human Life International. Pro-Choice Violence. Accessed October 10, 2013. http://prochoiceviolence.com.

Ertelt, Steven. “Paul Hill’s Violence Won’t be Missed by the Pro-Life Movement.” LifeNews.com. September 3, 2003. http://www.lifenews.com/nat97.html.

“Pro-Life Leaders Respond to Tiller Shooting.” Christian Broadcasting Network. June 1, 2009. http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2009/May/Pro-life-Community-Condemns-Tiller-Shooting.

Pro-Life Action League. “League Condemns Murder of Abortionist George Tiller.” June 1, 2009. http://prolifeaction.org/hotline/2009/tiller.

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It would be wrong to say that the life of a child with a disability is of less value than the life of any other child. None of us is free of imperfections, and our society prides itself on accommodating those whose disabilities would otherwise prevent them from enjoying the goods of modern life.

A disability can even become a source of tremendous personal growth and meaning. The parents of disabled children often report that their lives are blessed by the experience of caring for a disabled child, and those children grow up valuing their own lives as much as any of us does.

Moreover, aborting her own child for being disabled may compound the physical and emotional trauma women often experience after abortion. No child deserves the death penalty for being less than perfect.

  • See also Why are you opposed to abortion when it helps women so much? and Where can parents get help dealing with a poor prenatal diagnosis?
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The pro-life movement is often characterized as an effort by men to control women’s bodies. But in fact, some studies have shown women to be more pro-life than men. Perhaps they recognize that abortion often serves the selfish interests of men rather than the real needs of women.

The experience of pro-life counselors and the testimony of women who have spoken out about their abortions show that men are more likely to push women into abortions they do not want than to try to force them not to have an abortion. But we never hear abortion advocates speaking out against this kind of influence of men over women.

The pro-life movement calls on men to take responsibility for the children they have helped to conceive. The men who are active in the pro-life movement are responding to the call to step up and be advocates for women and children.

Finally, no one would try to impose this principle—that only those directly affected by an issue should have any say about it—to any other social justice movement. It was not only slaves, former slaves and former slave owners who spoke out for emancipation. It was not only black Americans who fought for civil rights. Nor should it be only
women, today, who speak out against abortion.


Gallup, George. The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 2003. Lanham:
Rowman and Littlefield, 2004.

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Neither life—that of an unborn child or that of her mother—is more important than the other’s. On the contrary, both lives are of equal value, and both deserve to be protected by the laws of our society.

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The pro-life movement cares very much about babies, both before and after they’re born. That is why we have established a nationwide support system of thousands of pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) devoted to providing emotional and
material support for women facing both untimely pregnancy and the demands of being a new parent.

  • For information on contacting PRCs or donating money or baby items, see Where can a woman get help with an untimely pregnancy?

Research shows abortion has increased rates of child abuse and other violent acts. Thus, decreasing the number of abortions means that fewer children will be abused.


Coleman, Priscilla K., et al. “Associations Between Voluntary And
Involuntary Forms of Perinatal Loss And Child Maltreatment Among Low-Income Mothers.”
Acta Paediatrica 94, no. 10 (2005).

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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 that “90% of illegal abortions are
presently being done by physicians.”

Likewise, the “coat hanger abortion” is a myth. In his 1979 book, Aborting America, the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL, then known as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, refers to one coat hanger abortion. However, Nathanson, who later became committedly pro-life, publicly confessed to fabricating evidence in order to get abortion legalized. There is no hard evidence to support the performance of a single coat hanger abortion.

NARAL claimed that 1,000,000 illegal abortions were performed yearly, though they believed the actual number to be about 100,000. They claimed that 10,000 women died each year from illegal abortions, knowing that the actual number was a mere fraction of this.

  • See also If you make abortion illegal, women will die on page 50 and What risks are associated with abortion?

Calderone, Mary S., MD. “Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem.” American Journal of Public Health 50, no. 7 ( July 1960): 949.

Nathanson, Bernard. Aborting America. Garden City: Doubleday, 1979. Nathanson, Bernard. The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind. Washington: Regnery, 1997.

Willke, John, MD and Barbara Willke. Abortion: Questions & Answers. Cincinnati: Hayes, 2003.

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Though many people believe our society is overburdened by “unwanted” children, the truth is that there are many more couples seeking to adopt children than there are children available for adoption. Each year approximately 140,000 children are adopted in the United States and approximately 100,000 children in foster care are eligible for adoption, versus approximately 560,000 couples currently seeking to adopt a child.


Child Welfare Information Gateway. “How Many Children Were Adopted in 2007 and 2008?” September 2011. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children
and Families. “Trends in Foster Care and Adoption—FY 2002-FY
2012.” July 2013. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/trends_fostercare_

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Adoption Experiences of Women and Men and Demand for Children to Adopt by Women 18-44 Years of Age in the United States, 2002.” Vital and Health Statistics 23, no. 27 (August 2008). http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_027.pdf.

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Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right. At one time, slavery was legal in the United States. Slavery did not become wrong when it was abolished after the Civil War—slavery was always wrong. The injustice of slavery ended in large measure thanks to people like William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, who spoke out against the unjust laws that kept millions of American blacks enslaved.

Likewise, the pro-life movement is speaking out against the unjust—but legal—killing of unborn human beings.

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It is impossible to know how many illegal abortions were performed prior to 1973, since they were not reported. Still, we have a fairly accurate picture of how many women died from illegal abortions. A woman who was seriously injured as a result of abortion would go to another physician for care; if she died, that physician would accurately report her cause of death as abortion.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, after penicillin became available 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, abortion deaths had dropped to half that number. In 1972, the year before the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide, only 39 women died—fewer than one per state.

Unfortunately, women are still dying from abortion. Life Dynamics has documented the deaths of 347 women from so-called “safe, legal abortion.”

  • See also Do you want to return to the days of “back alley” and “coat hanger” abortions? and Isn’t abortion safer than childbirth?

Calderone, Mary S., MD. “Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem.” American Journal of Public Health 50, no. 7 ( July 1960): 949.

Life Dynamics Incorporated. “The Blackmun Wall.” Accessed October 10, 2013. http://www.lifedynamics.net/Pro-life_Group/Pro-choice_Women.

Willke, John, MD and Barbara Willke. Abortion: Questions & Answers. Cincinnati: Hayes, 2003.

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Many people who are personally opposed to abortion—who consider abortion to be the unjust killing of a human being—still believe that abortion should be legal. They say that it’s impossible to stop abortion, so we need to keep abortion legal to reduce the risks associated with abortion. However, history does not support this analysis.

Between 1972 (the year before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion throughout the United States) and 1979, the nation’s abortion rate skyrocketed. But when Poland made abortion illegal in 1993, its abortion rate plummeted.

The law is a powerful teacher, influencing people’s attitudes towards right and wrong. We cannot assume that if abortion were made illegal, the abortion rate would remain steady, with similar numbers of women seeking illegal abortions. The evidence above suggests the contrary.

Those who wish to make abortion rare must seek to make it illegal. That would not end all abortions, but it would dramatically reduce the nation’s abortion rate.


Willke, John, MD and Barbara Willke. Abortion: Questions & Answers. Cincinnati: Hayes, 2003.

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A person does not have to be religious to be pro-life, and many non-religious people believe that abortion is wrong and should not be legal.

Science shows us that the unborn child is a genetically unique and separate human being from its mother, even while dependent on the mother for survival. Justice demands that the life of every human being be protected by law. And on a practical level, research shows us that abortion hurts women and puts them at greater risk of numerous physical and psychological harms.

These substantial reasons for opposing abortion are completely independent from religion.

  • See also A fetus isn’t really a human being and Why are you opposed to abortion when it helps women so much?

That said, religious faith does play an important role in inspiring people to take an active part in confronting the injustice of abortion. 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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On its face, it seems reasonable that if it is possible to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by means of contraception, then it is also possible to reduce the number of abortions. But in practice this strategy does not work, due to several factors.

First, while contraceptives do reduce the chances that pregnancy will result from an individual sexual act, the widespread use of contraceptives increases risky sexual behavior overall. This is demonstrated by the dramatic increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases and illegitimate births over the past four decades, even as contraception has become more and more widely available.

Next, we must realize that contraceptives often fail. Over half of the women who seek abortions each year report that they were using a contraceptive at the time they became pregnant. Of the nearly 12 million women on the birth control pill, eight to nine percent become pregnant each year, which means nearly a million pregnancies occur annually from Pill failure alone.

Another critical factor in why contraception is no solution for the problem of abortion is that the long-term use of contraceptives may predispose women to seek abortion when those contraceptives fail. Contraception severely weakens the link between a couple’s sexual activity and any responsibility to make a lifelong commitment or raise a family together. Pregnancy is no longer seen as a natural consequence of sex, but a negative side effect.

Moreover, the practice of repeatedly taking action—through the use of contraceptives—against the possibility of pregnancy may make it easier to take action—through abortion—to end a pregnancy when it occurs.

Those who continue to insist that contraception is the answer should explain why sexually transmitted diseases, illegitimate births, and abortion are endemic in American society today, despite the fact that contraceptives are available at any drug store, widely promoted in our schools, and heavily advertised in the media.

Promoting ever greater use of contraceptives will not work to reduce the number of abortions. Rather, we must work to change societal attitudes towards sex and reconnect sex with its proper context of marriage and family.


Kingsley, Danny. “Contraception less reliable than you might think.” Australian Broadcasting Corporation. April 30, 2003. http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2003/04/30/843232.htm.

Guttmacher Institute. “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States.” July 2013. http://guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html.

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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.


Benson Gold, Rachel. “Lessons from Before Roe: Will Past be Prologue?” The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy 6, no. 1 (March 2003). http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/06/1/gr060108.html.

Priests For Life. “The Founders of Women’s Movement All Opposed Abortion.” Accessed October 10, 2013. http://www.priestsforlife.org/articles/femquotes.html.

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Overpopulation is not a problem in the United States. On the contrary, the U.S. fertility rate is 2.06 children per couple, slightly below “replacement” level—the number of births needed to keep population stable. If not for immigration, the U.S. population would be stagnant.

Most European and Asian nations are well below the replacement rate. These nations will soon face a shortage of people of working age, with too few workers to support the elderly in their retirement. Even in developing nations, fertility rates have begun to steadily decline.

There is more than enough space on earth for the world’s population. In fact, every person in the world could comfortably live within the landmass of the state of Texas. The real problem is resource consumption, as developed nations consume resources at an alarming rate. While one solution to this problem might be to limit the number of people allowed to live on earth, a better solution would be to responsibly limit our consumption of the earth’s resources.


“County Comparison: Total Fertility Rate.” In The World Factbook 2013-14. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2127rank.html.

Mosher, Steven. “Did you know?” LifeIssues.net: Clear Thinking about Crucial Issues. http://lifeissues.net/writers/mos/pri_01texas.html.

Population Research Institute. FAQ’s. http://pop.org/about/faq.

United Nations. Press Release Pop/918. February 25, 2005. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/pop918.doc.htm.

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Although abortion advocates claim that abortion is necessary for women’s well-being, in fact abortion seriously harms the women who choose it. Women deserve better than abortion.

Abortion increases a woman’s risk of developing breast, cervical, ovarian, and liver cancers. Subsequent pregnancies are more likely to involve complications including placenta previa, premature labor, or ectopic pregnancy. Moreover, abortion is the fifth leading cause of maternal death in the United States, despite significant levels of underreporting.

Women are also psychologically harmed by abortion. Post-abortive women have higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse. They have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide more often. They are more likely to abuse their current
children and to get divorced. Post-abortive women are more likely than the general population to seek counseling or hospitalization for depression.

Thousands of women who have experienced the negative impact of abortion in their lives have begun to speak out through programs like the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. They are sharing their stories of how abortion has harmed
them on websites like SilentNoMore.com and at AfterAbortion.org.

  • See also How often are women coerced into getting abortions? and Where can a woman get help dealing with the pain of abortion?

Deveber Institute. “Summary Of Women’s Health After Abortion.” Accessed October 10, 2013. http://www.deveber.org/drupal/summary-womens-health-after-abortion.

Elliot Institute. “A List of Major Physical Sequelae Related To Abortion.” Accessed October 10, 2013. http://www.afterabortion.org/physica.html.

Ring-Cassidy, Elizabeth and Ian Gentles. “Maternal Mortality.” In Women’s Health After Abortion: The Medical And Psychological Evidence. Toronto: Deveber Institute, 2003. http://www.deveber.org/text/chapters/Chap6.pdf.

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There are many evils in this world, and all who dedicate their lives to fighting these evils are to be applauded. Those who are dedicated to fighting abortion believe that abortion is a serious enough evil to deserve a full-scale effort like the pro-life movement.

It might be helpful to compare the scope of abortion with the scope of other evils. In 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 1.21 million abortions performed in the United States, or 3,322 abortions per day.

Since the founding of the United States in 1776, 1.6 million Americans soldiers have been killed in battle. Since the legalization of abortion in 1973, over 55 million unborn Americans have been aborted—more than 34 times the number of war deaths. As of October 2013, approximately 6,800 Americans had died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan since hostilities began, which is 0.05% of the number of abortions during the same period. And on September 11, 2001, more lives were taken by abortion than in the terrorist attacks of that day.

In 2011, 14,612 murders and 83,425 rapes were reported to the FBI—so abortion is 83 times more common than murder and 15 times more common than rape.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, members of some 6.7 million households will go hungry at some point during the year. While hunger is a tremendous social problem, especially in a country as wealthy as the United States, it cannot compare to the injustice of being killed; few Americans die of starvation, but millions are aborted.

Such problems as these deserve to be addressed by concerned Americans. If we would not chastise those who advocate against war, crime and hunger for focusing on the specific problems they feel called to address, why would we chastise those in the pro-life movement for focusing on ending abortion?


Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Violent Crime.” Crime in the United States 2011. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crimein-the-u.s.-2011/violent-crime.

Wikipedia contributors. “United States military casualties of war.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed October 10, 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=United_States_military_casualties_of_war&oldid=576582494.

Guttmacher Institute. “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States.” July 2013. http://guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html.

ICasualties. “Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom Casualties.” Accessed October 10, 2013. http://icasualties.org.

Jones, Rachel K. and Kathryn Kooistra. “Abortion Incidence and Access to Services in the United States, 2008.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 43, no. 1 (March 2011): 41-50.

United States Department of Agriculture. “Food Security in the United States in 2011.” September 2012. http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/884529/err-141-summary.pdf.

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Abortion advocates often claim that abortion is much safer than childbirth. However, this claim does not stand up to a close examination of the evidence.

The official medical term that this claim is based on—”maternal mortality”—actually includes deaths from abortion, so it is patently misleading to claim that the rate of abortion deaths is much lower than the rate of “maternal mortality” as if that term included only deaths from childbirth. In fact, in addition to deaths from both abortion and childbirth, “maternal mortality” includes deaths from hemorrhages, blood clots, ectopic pregnancies, infections, complications from high blood pressure or diabetes and more.

Moreover, no accurate accounting of abortion deaths exists. Some studies show that 4% of all maternal mortality is due to abortion while others show 8%. Anecdotal evidence reveals substantial underreporting. For example, Dr. John C. Willke writes that a pro-life physician friend did not report a girl’s cause of death as abortion because “that family has suffered enough and I’m not going to add to their woes by revealing that she had an abortion.”

Because the records of live births and stillbirths are public, it is easy to correlate deaths related to childbirth. Any woman who dies within one year of giving birth is automatically considered a maternal death for record-keeping purposes. But records from abortions are private. This means that unless a woman’s family reports that she had an abortion or somehow a coroner determines that she had an abortion, her death will not be included in the statistics for maternal mortality or abortion death.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Maternal Mortality and Related Concepts.” Vital Health and Statistics 3, no. 33 (February 2007). http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_033.pdf.

Elliot Institute. “A List of Major Physical Sequelae Related To Abortion.” Accessed October 10, 2013. http://www.afterabortion.org/physica.html.

Khan, Khalid S., et al. “WHO Analysis of Causes of Maternal Death: A Systematic Review.” The Lancet 367, no. 9516 (April 1, 2006): 1066-1074.

Willke, J.C., MD. “Abortion v. Child Birth: Which Is Safer?” Life Issues Institute. http://www.lifeissues.org/connector/2006/Apr06_AbortionChildbirth.htm.

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Many pro-lifers question whether a society that allows the legal killing of more than a million unborn children each year can retain the moral authority to impose the penalty of death. However, the death penalty cannot be considered morally equivalent to abortion.

Abortion is a far more serious threat to human life than the death penalty. For every execution performed in the United States, there are more than 28,000 abortions. Moreover, the basic principles behind these two forms of legalized killing are fundamentally different.

Behind legal abortion is the principle that the life of the unborn child does not have intrinsic value, and therefore the state may withdraw protection from that life. Behind the death penalty is the principle that the life of the convicted criminal has so much value that to take that life constitutes the ultimate penalty society can impose.

Therefore, there is no inherent contradiction between opposing abortion and supporting the death penalty in principle. But there is a clear contradiction between opposing the execution of human beings guilty of heinous crimes and supporting the abortion of innocent unborn human beings.


Amnesty International. “The Death Penalty in the Americas in 2012.” July 2013. http://amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/death-sentences-and-executions-in-2012.

Guttmacher Institute. “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States.” July 2013. http://guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html.

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