The Common Good
September-October 1996

How to Prevent Abortions

by Joel Swadesh | September-October 1996

I THOUGHT THAT Julie Polter's commentary on
the late-term abortion veto, as well as Jim Wallis' comments,
missed the mark. There are two issues which must be
...

I THOUGHT THAT Julie Polter's commentary on the late-term abortion veto, as well as Jim Wallis' comments, missed the mark. There are two issues which must be separated. First, people on all sides agree that reducing abortion is an important goal, but we have an obligation to analyze what means are most effective and compatible with all of our principles. Second, we should ask whether late-term abortion should be addressed through legislation or through other means.

Imposing a legal ban on late-term abortions would affect a small number of cases (perhaps as few as several hundred) performed by a handful of physicians. By contrast, ending tobacco addiction could prevent as many as 141,000 miscarriages of largely wanted, healthy children, according to a physician writing in the most recent issue of Mother Jones. He also reports that he has forwarded this information to 50 "right to life groups" without receiving a single reply!

One could list the known abortion-prevention programs that we know work—hope, jobs, child abuse prevention, adoption as an alternative, and family planning services for the poor—but is the "right to life" movement interested? A realistic goal for the religious community would be to sponsor an Abortion Reduction Act that would establish research for treating tobacco addiction, instruct the Federal Reserve to consider inflation as a goal secondary to job creation, and fully fund family planning for the poor.

Treating the "Partial Birth Abortion" bill as anything more than a cynical political ploy is a waste of ink. We simply can't legislate according to what is icky, which is what the radical Right is attempting to do.

Joel Swadesh
Aztec, New Mexico, via Internet

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