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Reconciling Roe v. Wade

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Roe v. Wade, the SCOTUS decision that legalized abortion in the United States, marks a dubious 40th anniversary on Tuesday, January 22, 2013.  According to published data by the Guttmacher Institute more than 55 million abortions have been performed during the last four decades. 


Abortion -- and those children who were never born – exist in a place that is primarily out-of-sight and out-of-mind.  Although legally protected, abortion is among the few unspeakables in American society.  Thus, comprehending the impact on American society is even more difficult.  In a sense, it is hard to understand that which you never see. 

Consider for a moment, however, that the consequences of Roe are deeply into the second generation.  About 30 million of those aborted children would by now be of child bearing age themselves.  New families would have been created resulting in an additional 20 million or more children based on normal demographic statistics.  

So, in just a macro-population sense, the forty years since Roe v. Wade has eliminated a population roughly the size of California, New York, and Florida combined from American society.   If those lost to abortion, including the lost second generation, were a nation, they would be about the size of Germany – the 16th largest country in the world by population and the fourth largest economically.       


America appropriately agonized after the loss of innocent life in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado.  Mothers, fathers, citizens and leaders are still struggling to reconcile those and other tragedies. As a society, we also need to reconcile the tragedies involving the people we never meet, with the faces we cannot see, that happen every day. 

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