Christian Worldview

Dear Mary: A Response to “Safe, Legal, and Rare”


Shane Morris


Thank you for taking the time to contact us about our recent BreakPoint, “Making Abortion Unthinkable.” We appreciate your feedback, and love it when our listeners engage with us.

You brought up a number of points that resonate with a large percentage of the American population, and are often used in support of legal abortion, so I want to respond to them at length.

First, you said that your guiding principle is that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” This slogan was coined by former president Bill Clinton to describe his goals for abortion back in the 1990s. At first blush, it sounds reasonable and moderate, which is not surprising, considering the source. But if we think about it for more than a second, it falls apart.

Is abortion ever safe? Well for starters, it’s never safe for the child who is killed. That unique, new human life is snuffed out forever. But abortion also frequently results in emotional and even physical trauma for the mother. Studies (such as this one in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology), have found that between 40 and 60 percent of women report experiencing negative reactions after their abortion, including guilt (55 percent), nervous disorders (44 percent), sleep disturbances (36 percent), and regrets over having an abortion (31 percent). One in ten was prescribed psychoactive medication to treat their post-abortion symptoms.

This doesn’t sound safe to me.

The idea that abortion should remain “legal” is, of course, the central commitment of the Democratic Party on this issue. But this part of the slogan presents its own set of problems. If abortion is legal, how can it also be rare? How do we keep large percentages of the population from using this procedure as a form of birth-control? This is, in fact, what has happened in places like New York City, where according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every three babies is aborted! If abortion is accessible at any time for any reason with government funding (which as TIME magazine pointed out, is the official platform of the Democratic Party), then it simply won’t be rare. It will be tragically common, just as it is today. Over half a million babies are aborted annually in the United States.

But that leaves yet another question: Why should abortions be rare? Have you ever stopped to ask why you believe this? Liberal politicians often say that “abortion is a tragic choice.” But why? Doesn’t “tragedy” usually imply that someone has died? The destruction of a clump of cells isn’t tragic. The death of a human being is. Saying you want abortion to be rare makes it sound like you really know that what dies in an abortion has value, and shouldn’t be killed.

But this misses another important point: Democrats and liberals aren’t all that interested in keeping abortion rare, any longer. They openly celebrate abortion. During the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC and CNN all remarked on how frequently and obsessively abortion was mentioned and even cheered. Progressive comedian, Sarah Silverman, joked that pro-lifers make her “want to eat an aborted fetus.” The New York Times recently documented how the pro-choice movement is rapidly morphing into a pro-abortion movement. Most appalling of all, Mary Elizabeth Williams asked in Slate, “So What If Abortion Ends Life?” and argued that a woman’s right to her body grants her the ability to have the new human person growing inside of her killed, even if she knows it is a human life.

We’ve come a long way since the days of “safe, legal and rare.”

You also wrote that the human sexual drive means teenagers will always have sex before they’re ready for babies. You conclude that since they’re going to do it anyway, we might as well make contraception and abortion readily available to them. But we have good evidence that things are more complicated than that.  According to a 2016 study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame, access to condoms can actually increase the rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.

Many pro-choice advocates make the argument you make that abortion is necessary because some people aren’t ready for a baby, or can’t afford one. But as my friend Scott Klusendorf points out, this assumes that the unborn child isn’t a human being. How do I know this? Because no one would consider financial hardship or the immaturity of the parents as good arguments for killing a human being! Can you imagine someone killing a newborn or even a toddler on the grounds that the child’s parents weren’t ready for a baby? Society would never accept this. Yet this is exactly the justification often used for abortion.

You also bring up the cases of pregnancies by rape and incest, which we should note are exceptionally rare. Less than one percent of all pregnancies that end in abortion are the result of rape or incest. The vast majority of abortions are chosen for other reasons, such as convenience or finances.

But there’s more to it than that. As another friend of mine, Stephanie Gray, often points out, rape is a monstrous crime, and women who are victims of this crime need justice, understanding, and healing. But abortion doesn’t un-rape a woman, nor does it bring justice to her attacker. It punishes an innocent third party (the child conceived) with the death penalty, for a crime he or she didn’t commit.

Here’s another question: if it’s okay to kill an unborn child conceived in rape because he is a constant reminder of violence, why not after birth? After all, what is true of an unborn baby conceived in rape is also true of a newborn conceived in rape, not to mention a toddler, a child, or a grown woman like Rebecca Kiessling! Should the law allow us to kill people like Rebecca who were conceived in rape, because they are constant reminders of their fathers’ crime? I don’t know anyone who thinks this should be legal.

You rightly point to adoption as an important part of the solution. But you also seem to believe it’s not reasonable to expect families with the means to adopt to take on children who are less than “perfect,”—children with drug addictions, or behavioral issues, or fetal alcohol syndrome. We certainly need more adoption. A lot more. The church has a vital role to play in encouraging it. And it’s not the sole solution to unwanted pregnancies. You’re right about that much.

But I must ask once more, even if children with disabilities or prenatal addictions have a tough time finding new homes, is that an acceptable reason to kill them? If an orphanage full of young children was unlikely to find adoptive parents, would it be acceptable to kill those children? Heaven forbid! The right to life simply trumps all other concerns. We generally agree that there is no valid reason to intentionally kill a child, no matter the circumstances.

Here we get to the heart of the issue: What is the unborn? If the unborn is an innocent human being, then we may not intentionally kill him or her, for any reason. Neither financial hardship, nor parental maturity, nor the circumstances of conception, nor even physical defects are sufficient reasons to kill a two-year-old child. If the unborn is the same type of thing as that two-year-old (a child, just at an earlier stage of development), then it’s not okay to kill the unborn child for any of those reasons, either.

But merely arguing against abortion isn’t enough. You suggested that maybe pro-lifers do too much preaching and condemning, and not enough listening. You wrote that we should “provide what people actually need, and not what we think they should have.” You encouraged our BreakPoint cohost, John Stonestreet, to “work with people who have boots on the ground in social work, the criminal justice system, schools, the welfare and social security/SSI system, the foster care and child services communities and any program that provides services and education for working poor families.”

Respectfully, are you familiar with what our BreakPoint cohosts, John Stonestreet and Eric Metaxas, do when they’re not recording commentaries arguing against abortion? Let me fill you in. John Stonestreet has worked with folks on the ground in pregnancy care centers for years. In fact, CareNet, the largest network of pregnancy care centers in the country, recognized him with a lifetime achievement award. And you may have heard that Susanne Metaxas, the wife of BreakPoint cohost Eric Metaxas, runs a pregnancy care center in Manhattan, and together with Eric, received the Human Life Review’s Great Defender of Life award.

We here at the Colson Center are deeply committed to working with those who have boots on the ground, helping not just to care for babies who might otherwise have received a death sentence, but strengthening and rebuilding the family, which is the only institution capable of caring for, nurturing, and giving children the future they deserve. We believe this is what it means to be pro-life, and why we make no apologies for believing and proclaiming the scriptural and moral truth that human life is sacred, that each person is created in the image of God, and from the moment of conception bears profound dignity and value.

It’s also why we don’t think abortion can be “safe, legal and rare.” Instead, we believe it should be unthinkable.


Shane Morris

BreakPoint Senior Writer


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