When the Good News is Bad

  There's good news on the abortion front: A recent study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute shows that the number of abortions in the United States dropped more than seventeen percent between 1990 and 1997 -- from 1.61 to 1.33 million. And if you factor in the increase in the general population, the drop is even more dramatic. With such news, you might expect abortion-rights advocates, who insist that "pro-choice" isn't the same thing as "pro-abortion," to be happy. Well, you'd be wrong -- as a recent article in the New York Times reveals. You see, the decline in abortions hasn't caused a corresponding decline in the number of abortion clinics. In fact, there are now more clinics than the declining demand for abortions can sustain. And that's increasing the economic pressures on abortionists. As a result, some clinics have started competing for patients. Like other businesses, they compete on the basis of price. But unlike other medical procedures, whose prices have risen 500 percent since Roe v. Wade, the price of abortions has remained steady. That's because it is an elective procedure. As Warren Hern -- arguably America's most notorious abortion doctor -- told the Times, "the competition for patients is absolutely ruthless." It has led clinics to hire low-paid (presumably low-skilled) staff to do everything but perform the actual abortions. And some clinics have had to merge with others to stay in business. Pity. Others are creating a spa-like atmosphere, offering aroma therapy, candlelight, and relaxing music -- anything to get the unsuspecting through the doors. Some are trying to diversify, by providing gynecological services as well. Still others plan on dispensing the abortion pill, RU-486. But here, too, the economic pressure kicks in. To keep prices low, clinics are considering giving only one pill instead of the prescribed three. This could cause women serious medical complications or force them to come back to have an abortion, which wouldn't upset the clinic. If the pressures are so great, you might wonder, why not just switch to another business -- one that doesn't involve the taking of human life? The reason, as one doctor admitted in the New York Times, is that performing abortions involves "less work and more income." Shocking! Keep those words in mind the next you hear an abortion-rights advocate talking about "helping women" or "reproductive freedom" or some other euphemism. The Times article, with its references to "competition," "cutting costs," and "diversification," reminds us that abortion is big business. And people in pursuit of "less work and more income" won't be happy if women are having fewer abortions. Not when it affects their bottom line. If Christians are to have any chance of reversing what Pope John Paul rightly called the "culture of death," our first task must be to expose the empty rhetoric of pro-abortion advocates. For nearly three decades, they've portrayed themselves as the champions of women in trouble. But we know that's false: They exploit women. It's the crisis pregnancy centers that are the true champions of women in trouble. The news from the Guttmacher Institute is encouraging. And thanks to an unexpected assist from the New York Times, it helps us show our neighbors that, when it comes to the well-being of America's women, there's good reason to choose life. For further reference: Kolata, Gina. "As Abortion Rate Decreases, Clinics Compete for Patients." New York Times, 30 December 2000, sec. A13.


Chuck Colson


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