For me, lawyer jokes are an occupational hazard. Some — not all, mind you! — are well-deserved and genuinely funny. But lawyers have made valuable contributions to our society. For one, they had helped shape a legal system that allows consumers to be better informed about unreasonable risks of harm. Whether buying a car, investing money, or enjoying a leisure-time activity, we make more sensible choices because we are warned about the risks involved. Society is better for it.
It hasn’t always been that way. Between 1932 and 1972, federal scientists conducted a study of almost 400 illiterate, black Alabama sharecroppers suffering from advanced syphilis. Men were told that they suffered from “bad blood,” and they were not treated when penicillin became available. Scientists wanted to study how the disease spread among and killed blacks. The men were uninformed guinea pigs valued for their corpses. Scientists learned nothing of value. The Tuskegee Experiment has been rightly compared to the Nazi medical experiments on imprisoned Jews.
The year after the Tuskegee Experiment ended, a new experiment began. Since 1973, American society has been conducting an uncontrolled experiment on women: legalized abortion. The hypothesis is that legalized abortion allows women to control their bodies, which liberates women from unwanted pregnancies and so frees them for life’s other opportunities. But years of data have proven something much different. Post-abortive women often pay for their short-term release from pregnancies with long-term problems.
The most obvious is death, women’s death. So far there are hundreds of confirmed women’s deaths from legalized abortion. In fact, there may be thousands more. Abortion kills women in other ways. Whatever a woman’s immediate relief, she cannot escape the reality that she killed her own child and surrendered her God-given role as bearer and nurturer of a new generation. Making the abortion legal did not make her act guilt-free. Shame and regret gnaws at her core, and with tragic consequences. In 2005, a thirteen-year study concluded that post-abortive women are 154% more likely to commit suicide than are other women. A 1986 study found that teenagers having abortions are ten times more likely to commit suicide within the next six months than are like-age girls. The desperate need to escape the guilt becomes unbearable.
Those who do not die often lead shattered lives. Marriages, relationships and friendships are often permanently destroyed. A study in 2002 established that as long as eight years after their abortions, married women were 138% more likely to suffer from clinical depression than married women who had not aborted. The conclusion as to unmarried women was not significantly different. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop recommended a federal study on the subject, but a divided Congress killed his recommendation.
How do many women cope with their abortions? Sixteen published studies have revealed that women often turn to alcohol and drugs. They are twice more likely to use alcohol, five times more likely to use drugs, and ten times more likely to use marijuana in subsequent pregnancies than women who had no or one previous pregnancy. Why? Women abuse alcohol and drugs to cope with the memories of maternal emotions felt before the abortion.
What about subsequent pregnancies? There may be none at all. God did not design women’s wombs to tolerate scissors and scalpels and vacuum cleaners. Sometimes a complete hysterectomy is needed to stop bleeding from a punctured uterus. An abortionist’s tools force open a cervix far faster than normal, which may cause “incompetent cervix” preventing child bearing. The scraping of the uterus may make implantation of the embryo impossible. According to a 2007 study, abortion increases a woman’s risk of delivering a pre-term child by over 31 percent because of damage to the woman’s cervix during the abortion process. Premature birth puts a child at greater risk of physical and mental problems, including cerebral palsy.
And have you noticed an alarming increase in breast cancer over the years? Growing medical evidence indicates that women who aborted their first child stand a higher chance of breast cancer in post-menopausal years. Researchers project thousands of abortion-related breast cancer cases annually.
For far too long women have been the victims for a failed social experiment. Thirty-five years of research tells us what legalized abortion produces — death and untold misery for women. Uninformed women. And yet the experiment continues.
In this year’s election we’re hearing lots about “change.” It’s funny, no, it’s maddening how some politicians who mouth “change” have no desire to change the fate of women caught in a social experiment gone ugly. Want to liberate women? Liberate them from legalized abortion. They’ve been guinea pigs long enough.
The experiment won’t end until we say so. It starts with a vote.
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois, where they raise their six kids.
© 2008 Paul V. Esposito. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is freely granted.