The following commentary was written by ethicist Steven Bozza, director of the archdiocesan Office for Life and Family, in response to a Nov. 20, 2020 Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece by Seneca Joyner of the Women’s Medical Fund, in which Joyner advocated the creation of “a world where anyone can have abortions for any reason at any time.”
In her recent opinion piece, “Stop relying on SCOTUS and Roe to protect abortion rights,” Seneca Joyner of the Women’s Medical Fund takes hyperbole to the extreme by labeling current abortions restrictions as “inhumane” and “brutal.”
Abortion itself is inhumane – to both the child killed, and to the mother who has to endure the aftereffects (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) from the choice to abort. A closer look at legally approved abortion procedures paints a clear picture of that inhumanity.
Let us start with the chemical method, a two-step regimen that, according to the Guttmacher Institute, is on the rise by at least 39%. First, the woman takes mifepristone, which blocks progesterone and thereby prevents an unborn baby from receiving vital nutrients, effectively starving the baby to death. The second pill, misoprostol, causes strong uterine contractions that expel the unborn baby.
The balance of abortions are completed surgically. The most common method is vacuum extraction, which can be performed for 12 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual cycle before impregnation. The baby is extracted either manually, with a handheld suction device, or with a machine vacuum.
The later in pregnancy the abortion occurs, the more necessary it becomes to dismember the child before the extraction. By this point, the baby is fully formed with pain receptors: he or she does, in fact experience the actual pain incurred by these forms of abortion.
“Brutal” and “inhumane” are fitting adjectives indeed, but not in the context Ms. Joyner employs them.
Ms. Joyner calls on her readers to “summon revolutionary values” to promote abortion access, but her strategy is not as innovative as she may think. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger embarked on the same crusade more than a century ago. She did so not because she wanted to liberate women from oppression, but because she believed most of them were not worthy of reproducing in the first place – particularly if they were poor, Black, disabled, or in any way a “human weed” that threatened to spoil “the finest flowers of American civilization.”
Since few of those who advocate for abortion on demand actually take the time to read Sanger’s writings, they are likely unaware this avowed eugenicist and blatant racist specifically targeted Blacks and the poor in her lifelong campaign to limit human procreation. Ms. Joyner laments the “criminalized pregnancies” under abortion restrictions, but she fails to realize that Sanger herself actually viewed pregnancy as a crime against humanity, if the parents did not meet her arrogant criteria regarding who should be permitted to inhabit the planet.
It is no secret that many women are coerced into having an abortion by parents, boyfriends, husbands or unscrupulous business owners. Feminists have been strangely silent on this point. As a result, women become the victims of abortion as well. They suffer the betrayal of those they love and depend upon, and they suffer from their choice to kill their own children.
Women in crisis pregnancies, and the unborn children they bear, deserve far better than Ms. Joyner’s vision for “a world where anyone can have abortions for any reason at any time.” Rather than mobilizing funds to destroy life, Ms. Joyner and her fellow abortion advocates should invest their energies in creating a future that guarantees authentic justice and opportunity for all, born and unborn.
Steven Bozza is the director of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for Life and Family, a professor of bioethics at the Catholic Distance University and a doctoral candidate at Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome.
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