The following essay first appeared in P.S., May-June, 1982; most recently revised in July, 2007.
Abortion opponents dislike the term "pro-choice." Choose what?" they ask. "Name the choice!" Doris Gordon, national coordinator of Libertarians for Life, uses the words "abortion choice" and "abortion choicers" instead.
Yet there are people who oppose abortion but believe it should be legal. They may worry about the hard cases or the practical difficulties of enforcing an abortion ban. They may fear that the politics of abortion will harm liberal political programs to which they are committed. Yet they would like to discourage abortion and reduce its numbers. They would like to help women make a choice for life.
If you are in this group, what can you do? Here are a few suggestions:
✓ When you learn that a friend or family member is pregnant, your first words should be: "Congratulations! I'm so happy for you!" The next words might well be: "How may I help?" Perhaps she needs a ride to the doctor's for prenatal care, or the services of a pregnancy aid center, or financial aid, or (if she's a teenager and unmarried) someone to help her break the news to her parents. By offering such help, or knowing where to find it, you can be a rock of support to her and her child.
✓ Give financial and volunteer support to pregnancy aid centers. (Check the yellow pages under "Abortion Alternatives" for the ones nearest you.) Usually a center needs counselors, receptionists, painters, computer mavens, cleaners, fundraisers, nurses, "gofers," fundraisers, doctors, lawyers--the sky is the limit! You can really make a difference. You can help save lives and give both mothers and children a good start.
✓ Encourage adoption as one alternative to abortion. Where there are problems with it, help win adoption reform. Work to get kids out of the foster-care system and either back to their original home (if safe and secure) or to a new home with adoptive parents. There are problems in adoption and foster care, but good minds and willing hearts can solve them. Kids should not be abandoned to endless red tape and delay.
✓ Support efforts to aid people with disabilities, whether young or old. Sometimes there is need for volunteer efforts as personal as babysitting for a disabled child to give her parents some time off--or helping them find special aid the child requires. Or helping an older wheelchair user get out of the house and to a ballgame or party or shopping mall.
✓ If you're a doctor or medical student, talk with colleagues about the way abortion affects your profession. What's happening to the medical profession when doctors promote eugenic abortion of the handicapped? When they make money by the routine and methodical destruction of tiny human beings? Encourage them, instead, to donate time or reduce their fees in order to help poor women with prenatal care and delivery.
✓ If you're a lawyer or law student, question the concepts of "wrongful birth" and "wrongful life" that lawyers have used against the handicapped unborn. Ask why lawyers and judges want to force citizens to pay for abortion. Look into the methodical use of the law to promote abortion for population control (as in the "law and population" programs that the U.S. Agency for International Development and private groups have funded). What's going on here?
✓ If you're a writer or reporter, check the role of the media--especially the stories they miss. For example: the connection between abortions (particularly multiple abortions) and later premature births that may cause death or serious injury to tiny infants. The embarrassing links between eugenics and abortion. The huge amounts of money that private foundations spend to promote abortion for population control. There is a need for serious investigative reporting on all of these issues. Perhaps you can do some.
✓ If you're a guy, starting talking with other men about male responsibility. Why do so many men abandon both women and children when pregnancy occurs? This is cowardly and irresponsible! It's unjust to women and children--and also to grandparents, who often find themselves coping with obligations that really belong to the father. Men as a group can apply social pressure to prevent abandonment.
✓ Support educational efforts to discourage abortion. There are many possibilities: books, articles, television programs, speeches, dialogues. The Vitae Foundation (www.vitaefoundation.org) has developed television spots that are quite effective in persuading women to choose life. They need more money to run television campaigns all over the country.
These are just a few ideas. Many more may occur to you as you become involved. We must approach the problem from every conceivable angle--including education, persuasion, and alternatives that are practical and easily available.
We have to change our entire culture, teach it to welcome children again, teach it to look upon each child as a sign of hope.