Another Tragic Effect of Roe v. Wade

by Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq.
May 20, 2005

Abortion advocates recoil at the claim that abortion in the United States is used as a method of birth control. But how else can they account for the fact that nearly half of all abortions each year are performed on women who have already had at least one?

Today, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 48% of women having an abortion in the United States have had at least one previous abortion. In some states the rate of repeat abortions is much higher. In Maryland, for example, 71.4% of those having an abortion have already had at least one, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC also tracks multiple repeat abortions from states which submit data. Maryland ranks highest: 16.4% of those having an abortion have already had at least three prior abortions.

Most Americans, pro-life and pro-choice alike, are shocked to learn these figures.

How did this happen?

The blame starts 32 years ago with Roe v. Wade. Roe rendered all state laws against abortion null and void -- even the most permissive -- and replaced them with the radical and utterly reckless rule of legalized abortion throughout pregnancy, for virtually any reason.

And society reacted accordingly. If legal abortion is unlimited, why not use it to "solve" social problems? Many people didn't realize -- and the Supreme Court has obstinately refused to see -- that abortion doesn't solve problems, it only creates new ones.

New research from France confirms yet another of these problems: Having an abortion almost doubles a woman's risk of giving birth dangerously early in a later pregnancy.

Researchers at the Hopital de Bicetre in Paris say they have found conclusive evidence of a link between induced abortion and subsequent extreme pre-term births -- so extreme that many babies die soon after birth or suffer serious disability. Their study of over 2,000 women with pre-term delivery is reported in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The researchers found that abortion appears to increase the risk of most major causes of premature birth, such as premature rupture of membranes, incorrect position of the fetus on the placenta, and spontaneous early labor. Overall, a previous abortion made women 40% more likely to have a very pre-term delivery, and 70% more likely to have an extremely premature baby.

So abortion not only robs a child of his right to be born -- it may also kill or disable his sister or brother. After three decades of legal abortion, how many subsequent children have been affected by abortion?

Unlimited legal abortion has been a dangerous social experiment on the lives of women and children. The only way to stop the experiment is to overturn Roe.

Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq. is the director of planning and information for the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.