Back in 1963, when I was in my first year at the University of Pennsylvania, a fellow freshman who lived in my suite in the dorms, ran into a problem that he was having difficulty resolving. A girl he had dated, but that he had no intention of marrying, had become pregnant. He had enough integrity not to desert her, that would have resulted in her having to deal with an out of wedlock child or an abortion on her own, that at that time, was illegal in the United States. After much investigation, he found a place in Puerto Rico, where abortions were allowed, that he had been told was reputable. He bought two round trip tickets to Puerto Rico, paid an exorbitant amount of money to have the abortion carried out, and returned the next day.
Before 1973, when Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion in the United States. what my friend did was probably more common than one would expect with accidental pregnancies. My friend had the good fortune to come from a family that could afford the cost of the trip to Puerto Rico. I recently read that 60% of people who seek abortions fall into an income level that defines them as poor. Given these statistics, it is reasonable to believe that most people in need of abortions before 1973, probably could not afford to have them.
The Republican argument against abortion is that we are giving sanction to ending human life, and that this act is contrary to the Divine Will of God. They believe that preserving human life, after conception, takes precedence over a woman’s right to choose whether she wishes to have the child or terminate the pregnancy. With the good Lord on their side, these folks are blinded by their philosophic inconsistencies in which such a view lead. For example, an underlying theme of conservative politics is to reduce the dependency that poor people have on welfare after having children they can ill afford. But are we not creating more potential candidates for such services if we prohibit abortions?
As a clinical psychologist, I have counseled many married couples who have told me that such and such child was unplanned, but nevertheless, both inevitably agree not to terminate the pregnancy. I have found it to be extremely rare when a married couple suddenly discover an unplanned pregnancy and decide not to have the baby. On the other hand, many of those that choose to have an abortion are generally not married, and, more than likely, do not have the will and resources to bring a newborn into the world.
The other classic conservative position is to keep a tight rein on government spending toward social programs that are geared toward helping the poor. Trump aside, conservatives have traditionally taken a laissez faire attitude toward the government with their motto being the best government is less government. This gives rise to the individual spirit that is so much reflected in small businesses and entrepreneurs, in general. But these same people, who believe in fewer governmental interventions, now back these same powers to be with the authority to tell women what is best for them and society.
There are many factors as to why the crime rate has decreased since Roe vs. Wade became law. Some commentators have suggested that legalizing abortion, thereby reducing the birth of unwanted children, may have influenced the reduction of criminal behavior. One way or another, we can safely say the crime rate has not likely worsened due to the termination of children that otherwise may have been born out of wedlock.
Fortunately, recently John Roberts, the current chief justice of the Supreme Court, cast a tie breaking vote in favor of retaining a woman’s right to abortion without any obstacles attached to that right. Inasmuch as Roberts is considered a conservative regarding constitutional law, his vote, in not limiting the scope of Roe vs. Wade, came as somewhat of a surprise. And that, I would maintain is the beauty of an independent branch of government: The Supreme Court, in not being beholden to any one party, has the duty of focusing on the principles outlined in each case it reviews in an unbiased manner.
Thank God for Justice Roberts! He has reinforced a decision that can continue to help the next generation of women have access to abortion services without any unnecessary restrictions. As I pointed out in the beginning of this essay, in the past such procedures, considered safe, only could be afforded by the wealthy.