The 31st anniversary of Roe vs. Wade last week was played out with familiar theatrics. "Thousands" marched against abortion in the cold streets of Washington. In the evening, believers in the morally obtuse cult of "choice" chose a warm hotel ballroom in which to celebrate their success in reducing a baby to a meaningless blob with no intrinsic value.
There are hopeful signs that the pro-life movement is starting to win the abortion war that has divided the country for more than three decades. The number of abortions in America declined from about 1.03 million in 1992 to 854,000 in 2000, a reduction of more than 17 percent. The drop is due to a number of factors, including thousands of centers that offer material, spiritual and medical help and information to women who experience unplanned pregnancies, an improved economy and state legislation that requires women to receive more information than they have been getting before an abortion can be performed.
It is this last development that has created a large window of opportunity for the pro-life movement. "Choice" presupposes access to information so that people know what it is they are choosing. We have truth-in-labeling and lending laws that require food manufacturers and financial institutions to disclose the contents of what they are selling (be it food or a loan). Laws also require auto dealers to put informational stickers on the cars they sell. But in still too many instances, a woman can get an abortion with fewer informational requirements than for any other surgical procedure.
A new study suggests that information may be the key to reducing the number of abortions. Many women testify following an abortion that they would have made a different choice had they been presented with more information. Taking data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the HeritageFoundation concludes that states that have adopted "informed consent" laws influenced the decline in the number of abortions performed in America during the 1990s.
The Heritage analysis, by Michael J. New, Ph.D., found that in 1992 virtually no states were enforcing informed consent laws. By 2000, 27 states had informed consent laws in place. In 1992, no states banned or restricted "partial-birth" abortions. By 2000, 12 states had bans or restrictions on the procedure. In 1992, 20 states were enforcing parental involvement statutes. By 2000, 32 states enforced such laws.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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