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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Matt’s Traditional American Values: The global pro-life movement

Matt's Traditional American Values

The most important civil rights battle of our time is the fight to end the murderous practice of abortion.  Pretty much everyone who views abortion as the taking of a human life would agree with that sentiment, but the question of what we really mean by that still looms large.  A focal point of the pro-life movement has long been overturning the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which has lead to the deaths of 60 million babies in the United States.  I agree that overturning Roe is the most important goal to save lives in America, but our goals need to be far more ambitious than just protecting American lives.  The United States only accounts for 2.3% of all abortions around the world, so why should we simply focus on unborn lives in America when 98% of all deaths from abortion will occur outside our borders?

The inspiration for this piece came on October 26th, when Katie Ascough, the pro-life student body president at the University College of Dublin in Ireland was impeached for removing an abortion advertisement from the school newspaper.  You may say that a leader of the student body should respect free speech, and I’d agree, if not for the fact that abortion is illegal in Ireland and Ascough could have faced criminal liability had she allowed the abortion information to be distributed.  As if her story were not tragic enough, Ireland could soon lose its status as the only country in Western Europe to protect the unborn.  Leo Varadkar, the Irish Prime Minister, has called for a referendum to be held early next summer on repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, which protects an unborn baby’s right to life.  

While it is legal for Irish citizens to obtain international abortions, records show that only 3,400 Irish women obtained abortions in Britain (the most convenient place for them to travel) in 2015.  That equates to one abortion for every 1,400 people.  Contrast that with the United States, where abortion is legal on demand, which sees roughly one abortion for every 350 people (dividing that by the American population).  Based on that comparison, should Ireland legalize abortion on demand, abortion rates could quadruple overnight in the country.  The stakes in next summer’s referendum will be 10,000 additional lost lives in Ireland every single year.  Unfortunately, we have already seen one longtime pro-life country legalize abortion in some cases, when Chile did so in August with a law that could have even broader consequences than intended due to its vague language.

An even more tragic situation is in France, where former President Francois Hollande’s socialist government passed laws designed to severely restrict the free speech rights of pro-life people in the country.  Under the law passed in February, you can be punished with up to two years in jail for providing “misleading” information in an attempt to dissuade a woman from deciding to end her baby’s life.  Unfortunately, the French government took a very biased position on what constitutes misleading information, even creating a government website to fight all claims of the pro-life movement.  This law is already on top of a 2001 French law (that is mentioned in the above article) that bans pro-life activists from peacefully protesting outside an abortion clinic.  This leaves French pro-lifers with no ability to fight to save lives, because it is virtually impossible for them to come in contact with vulnerable women and help empower them to choose life.

Other international abortion tragedies have to do with discriminatory abortion practices.  Around the world, abortion is often used as a mechanism for choosing who gets to live and who does not.  In August, CBS ran a story celebrating that “Down syndrome in Iceland has almost disappeared.”  The only problem is that Down syndrome is just as common as ever in Iceland, but that nearly all babies with Down syndrome are never getting the chance to live in the first place.  All of us, whether on the right or the left, should find it abhorrent that this world is essentially saying that people with Down syndrome would be better off dead.

Sex-selective abortion is also a big concern in much of the world.  As of 2014, in China, there were 116 baby boys for every 100 baby girls (the article notes that a natural ratio would be 105:100.)  Due to China limiting the number of babies that parents are legally allowed to have, many families who want a son will abort their daughters so they can legally have a son in the future.  The article notes that the one-child policy has largely been relaxed to allow two or three children, but all that that relaxation has done is cause parents to abort their subsequent daughters.  If a first-born child is female, the gender ratio of subsequent children can be as high as 160:100 (male-dominated).  With sexism very much alive in Chinese society, the government is essentially encouraging parents to kill their babies through child limitation policies.

Let me finish this off with some hope from here in the United States.  America has actually made significant progress at protecting the unborn since the midterm elections of 2010, in which pro-life Republicans were swept into power throughout much of the country.  Throughout the 2000s, there were between 1.2 and 1.3 million abortions in the United States per year.  Since the fateful midterms of 2010, the abortion rate in this country has dropped by 25%, down to 908,000 in 2015.  Projecting out trends, 2017 looks poised to have fewer abortions in the United States than any year since Roe v. Wade in 1973.  The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute noted that this January, states had passed 338 pro-life laws since 2010.  This does not even include all of the pro-life laws passed in 2017, including in our state of Tennessee, where we passed a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation and became the 21st state to protect unborn children before the point of viability.  

The ultimate goal of overturning Roe may be within reach as well.  Following President Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court– an appointment that was praised by the National Right to Life– we likely have four Supreme Court justices who would correct the Supreme Court’s mistake from 1973.  That puts us one vote short, but with a president who has promised to appoint pro-life justices and the statistical likelihood of another opening, we are closer than ever to ending 44 years of genocide in this country.

However, we cannot relent in our fight to protect the unborn.  Within our borders, the abortion lobby has forced taxpayers to fund abortions in Oregon and compelled pro-life clinics to provide abortion referrals in California (which was struck down as violating the 1st Amendment on Friday).  The Democratic Party platform calls for repealing the Hyde Amendment (which bans the federal government from directly funding abortion), which could push Oregon’s radical abortion policy on the rest of the country.  While there are threats to life at home, we are winning. However, abroad, we are losing the fight for life, and Ireland potentially legalizing abortion in 2018 could be a gutpunch to the international pro-life movement, especially on the heels of setbacks in places like Chile, France and Iceland.  We cannot give up fighting in the United States just because we are on the cusp of ending abortion, but we also must not turn our backs on the rights of unborn babies and their advocates all around the world.

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About the Contributor
Matt Colleran, Former Author

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