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August 2009

Growing up, I thought that big families were the rule rather than the exception. They sure were the rule in our neighborhood. Three families had six kids, one had seven, and our next-door neighbors had thirteen! The guys could get a game going whenever we wanted one. It was football in fall and into winter, basketball as soon as we could clear icy driveways in spring, and kickball all summer long.

We had a wonderful neighborhood. Everyone got along. Oh, there’d be those occasional scraps and scrapes; boys will be boys. But we made up quickly. We weren’t what you’d call chivalrous, but we did live by an unwritten rule. No one, but no one, put a hand on a girl. Only bullies did that, and we weren’t bullies.

For some, the sexual revolution of the 60’s marked the start of a new era of women’s rights. Women’s bodies were to be their own. Legal abortion, the crown jewel of the movement, would make it so. No longer would unplanned pregnancies shackle women to marriage or motherhood. Legal abortion would give women full “reproductive rights,” allowing them to control their own destinies.

Or so they said. In actual fact, legal abortion has made many women the victims of coercion, brutality, and even murder. Consider these few examples:

• In Maine, parents kidnapped their 19-year old at gunpoint and drove her to New York for an abortion;
• A Pennsylvania man spiked his girlfriend’s soft drink with a drug causing miscarriages in cows;
• A New York physician forced his girlfriend to the ground and stabbed her with a drug-filled syringe. “I’m giving you an abortion!”
• A Kentucky man was charged with chasing his wife into a barn where he put his hand into her womb and detached the baby from the uterus.
• An Arkansas man was charged with hiring hit men to kill his girlfriend’s unborn baby. “Your baby is dying tonight” was their response to the woman’s pleas;
• After his girlfriend refused an abortion, a man killed her and her daughter with a pipe bomb.

A leading cause of death in pregnant women is homicide. Where violence is not involved, coercion often is. A husband explodes, “Have an abortion or I’ll leave you.” A nurse snaps, “This is not the time for questions.” A physician performing a coerced abortion shouts at his patient, “Shut up and quit that yelling!” Reports abound of women being bullied into unwanted abortions.

So in an era of “reproductive rights” and “choice,” why are coerced and forced abortion prevalent? For one, our culture of death rejects the truth that life is sacred. A growing baby is a mere “product of conception,” a “mass of tissue,” a zygote, embryo, or fetus. We lose sight of a baby as a gift of God, a living sign of His continuing love for us. And when we cheapen life, we cheapen the women carry it. A woman’s womb no longer is a sacred space where God performs His greatest miracle. It has become a Petri dish to be scraped, a box of junk to be dumped.

What’s more, the very notion of “choice” has been turned against women. For if a baby is nothing more than a woman’s “choice”, then what about the rights of choice of others? Husbands, boyfriends, parents, even school counselors and social workers who either had a part in pregnancies or must deal with their aftermath want their choices. They can be strong enough, and mean enough, to get it.

Why does it all end so violently for many women? It’s because abortion is an act of violence, not an act of choice. The goal is certain death. Babies are ripped apart limb by limb, their skins scalded, their brains literally sucked from their heads. No weapon goes unused in the effort to kill the baby. So if a woman’s life gets in the way, it’s just too bad for her. Tragically, that’s often the case.

And the problem of forced abortion is going from bad to worse. The Obama administration has reversed the longstanding Mexico City policy, which barred the use of U.S. tax dollars to fund organizations promoting abortion. Congress has authorized $50 million for the U.N. Family Planning Fund, an organization that has helped Chinese officials implement a coercive one-child family planning policy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told Congress that the administration considers access to abortion to be an important part of family planning and women’s reproductive health. It all means that your tax dollars will be hard at work exposing women throughout the world to coercion and violence, all in the name of “free choice.” Abortion is becoming one of our leading exports.

God calls us to be one big family living together in one big neighborhood. But there’s a real menace out there. It’s abortion, and it’s no kid’s game. We are allowing it to victimize the unborn and women alike. If we truly define ourselves by how we treat the weakest around us, we better realize something before it’s too late.

We are becoming a nation of bullies.

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.

© Paul V. Esposito 2009. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Visit us on the web at

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