Pro-Choice Reasoning - Abortion Facts

Response to Common Pro-Choice Views

Some arguments against the pro-life side are directed to the abortion issue itself, while others focus more on the perceived hypocrisy or insensitivity of pro-lifers.

Offered here are brief responses to the most common pro-choice arguments, summing up the key points in response to each. For more detailed treatment of these issues, consult the resources to be found under the Resources tab of this website.

A Fetus isn’t really a Human Being.

“Fetus” is a Latin term meaning “little one”, used to describe a stage of development, just like “infant” or “adult”. A fetus conceived by human parents, and growing according to the instructions in its own genetic code of 46 human chromosomes, is by definition human.

Human life is a continuum, beginning with the newly conceived zygote, moving through the stages of embryo and fetus on through to adult. Although a fetus doesn’t look like an adult yet, neither does a newborn baby. A human fetus is no less human simply because it is smaller and more delicate.

For that matter, neither is an embryo less human, though it looks quite strange to our eyes, even in comparison to a fetus. Still, it is our duty to recognize the common humanity of all stages of development.

Why should a Woman have to Give Birth to an Unwanted Child?

While there are unwanted pregnancies, there truly are no unwanted children. Even if a pregnant woman does not want to raise the child growing in her womb, someone else does. There are many more couples seeking to adopt than children available for adoption.

But even if a child were “unwanted,” it would still be wrong to kill that child for not being wanted—just as it would be wrong to kill a child already born if her mother decided she no longer wanted her.

Moreover, no woman really wants to have an abortion. An unwanted abortion is no solution to an unwanted pregnancy.

How can You Tell Women what They can and can’t do with Their Bodies?

While it is certainly true that a woman’s body is greatly impacted by pregnancy, it is not true that abortion is simply a matter of her choosing to do something with her body. The fetus growing within her womb is a separate person with its own distinct genetic makeup. Abortion does not remove some part of the woman’s body; it destroys the body of a separate, unique individual.

That said, the truth is that pro-lifers cannot “force” a woman to choose life for her baby. Abortion is legal, and even if it weren’t, illegal abortion would still be an option. That is why we seek instead to inform women about the consequences of abortion and do what we can to help her choose life for her unborn child.

Don’t a Majority of Americans Support Legal Abortion?

Despite the claims of some abortion advocates, support for abortion among the American public is rather shallow. Though many Americans will tell pollsters they support Roe v. Wade, few realize that Roe and its companion case Doe v. Bolton made abortion legal for almost any reason through all nine months of pregnancy.

In fact, research shows that most Americans oppose most of the abortions performed in the United States. A majority of Americans consistently say they oppose abortion for many of the most common reasons women state for getting abortions, such as not feeling emotionally or financially capable of raising a child, and concern that having a child would drastically alter her life.

Greater numbers of Americans also support restrictions on abortion like parental involvement laws and bans on partial birth abortion.

Sources: Ethics and Public Policy Center. Public Opinion on Overturning Roe v. Wade.

Gallup. Americans Favor Parental Involvement in Teen Abortion Decisions

Shouldn’t Abortion be Legal in Cases of Rape or Incest?

There are two answers to this objection. First, a child conceived through rape or incest does not deserve the death penalty for his or her father’s crime. Second, research shows that the victim of either crime is likely to suffer more if she resorts to abortion.

One large-scale study of pregnant rape victims found that approximately 70 percent chose to give birth. Many sexual assault victims see giving birth as a selfless, loving act that helps bring healing from the horrific experience of the rape itself. Women who abort children conceived through rape often report that they didn’t feel that they had any other choice, since everyone around them assumed that they would not want to give birth to the rapist’s baby.

The case against abortion for pregnant victims of incest is even stronger. Incest victims hardly ever voluntarily consent to an abortion. Rather than viewing the pregnancy as unwanted, the victim of incest is more likely to see the pregnancy as a way to get out of the incestuous relationship because it exposes the abusive sexual activity that family members are either unaware of or unwilling to acknowledge. The pregnancy poses a threat to the perpetrator, who frequently attempts to coerce his incest victim to have an unwanted abortion.

The idea that the violent act of abortion is beneficial to victims of rape and incest is simply unfounded. On the contrary, evidence shows that abortion in such cases compounds the unspeakable pain that victims experience.

Moreover, given that one-third of one percent of abortions are performed under such circumstances, we might ask why this question is so frequently raised. Do these extremely rare cases justify tolerating the other 99.67% of abortions? Would those who raise this objection really be willing to ban abortion if exceptions were made for rape and incest?

Sources: Johnston, Wm. Robert. Reasons Given For Having Abortions In The United States.

Mahkorn, “Pregnancy and Sexual Assault,” The Psychological Aspects of Abortion, eds. Mall and Watts (Washington, D.C., University Publications of America, 1979) 55-69.

Maloof, “The Consequences of Incest: Giving and Taking Life” The Psychological Aspects of Abortion, eds. Mall and Watts (Washington, D.C. University Publications of America, 1979) 84-85.

Reardon, David, PhD, Julie Makimaa, and Amy Sobie. 2000. Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault. Battle Creek. Acorn Publishing.

Abortion Opponents are Violent—They Bomb Clinics and Attack Women!

Despite some highly publicized cases, violence perpetrated by abortion opponents is extremely rare. All major pro-life organizations have official policies condemning the use of violence, and no cases of violence directed at abortion-bound women by pro-life activists have ever been substantiated, despite the rhetoric from some abortion advocates.

The few individuals who have bombed abortion facilities were not part of the mainstream pro-life movement, and in some cases have even admitted they were more motivated by a desire for fame than concern for the plight of unborn children. In fact, there have been more reported acts of violence perpetrated against pro-lifers than committed by them. Just as it would be unfair to characterize all pro-choice people as violent because of a few criminals, it is unfair to say that pro-lifers are violent because of a few fringe figures.

On the contrary, pro-life activism demands patience and peace, which is why the pro-life movement is the most peaceful protest movement in U.S. history.

Sources: Clowes, Brian. 2008, June 30. Abortion Violence.

Ertelt, Steven. 2003, September 3. Paul Hill’s Violence Won’t be Missed by the Pro-Life Movement.

Graham, Tim. 2004, March 10. Fading Fear Factor: Are Rosaries Attacking Ovaries? National Review Online.

LaRue, Jan. 2005, April 14. Don’t Call Rudolph ‘Pro-Life’. Concerned Women For America Legal Studies.

What if there’s something “Wrong” with the Baby?

While none of us would prefer to live life with a disability if we had the choice, we cannot say that the lives of disabled people have no value. In fact, the disability can become a source of tremendous personal growth and meaning. The parents of disabled children often report that their lives are blessed by the experience of caring for a disabled child, and those children grow up to value their own lives.

Moreover, women often face severe physical and emotional trauma after an abortion. This trauma is not lessened simply because she knows the baby would have been disabled.
Men can’t get Pregnant, so They shouldn’t Tell Women what to Do.

The pro-life movement is often characterized as an effort by men to control women’s bodies. But in fact, studies show that women are actually more pro-life than men. Perhaps they recognize that abortion often serves the selfish interests of men rather than the real needs of women.

The experience of pro-life counselors and the testimony of women who have spoken out about their abortions show that men are more likely to push women into abortions they do not want than to try to force them not to have an abortion. But we never hear abortion advocates speaking out against this kind of influence of men over women.

The pro-life movement calls on men to take responsibility for the children they have helped to conceive. The men who are active in the pro-life movement are responding to the call to step up and be advocates for women and children.

Finally, no one would try to impose this principle—that only those directly affected by an issue should have any say about it—to any other social justice movement. It was not only slaves, former slaves and former slave owners who spoke out for emancipation. It was not only black Americans who fought for civil rights. Nor should it be only women, today, who speak out against abortion.

Source: Gallup, George. 2004. The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 2003. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Why do you Think the Fetus is more Important than the Woman?

Neither life—that of an unborn child or that of her mother—is more important than the other’s. On the contrary, both lives are of equal value, and both deserve to be protected by the laws of our society.

How Many Children have You Adopted?

There are too many Unwanted Children Now!

There are many more couples seeking to adopt babies than there are babies available for adoption. Each year approximately 40,000 babies are given up for adoption in the United States and 129,000 children in foster care are eligible for adoption, versus approximately 600,000 couples actively seeking to adopt children.

Sources: U.S. Department of Health And Human Services CDC. 2002. Adoption Experiences of Women and Men and Demand for Children to Adopt by Women 18–44 Years of Age in the United States, 2002. Vital And Health Statistics 23. No. 27.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. 2008. The AFCARS Report: Preliminary FY 2006 Estimates as of January 2008.

Do You want to Return to the Days of “Back Alley” and “Coat Hanger” Abortions?

The idea of widespread and dangerous “back alley” abortions prior to the nationwide legalization of abortion in 1973 is not supported by the facts. The medical director of Planned Parenthood wrote in 1960 that “90% of illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians.”

Likewise, the “coat hanger abortion” is a myth. In his 1979 book, Aborting America, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) mentions one coat hanger abortion. However, Nathanson, who is now committedly pro-life, has publicly confessed to fabricating evidence in order to get abortion legalized. There is no hard evidence to support the performance of a single coat hanger abortion.

NARAL claimed that 1,000,000 illegal abortions were performed yearly, though they believed the actual number to be about 100,000. They claimed that 10,000 women died each year from illegal abortions, knowing that the actual number was a mere fraction of this.

Sources: Calderone, Mary S., MD 1960. Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem. American Journal of Public Health 50, no. 7 ( July). p. 949.

Nathanson, Bernard. Confessions of an Ex-Abortionist.

Nathanson, Bernard. 2002. National Abortion Rights Action League Founder Reminisces.

Willke, John, MD and Barbara Willke. 2003. Abortion: Questions & Answers. Cincinnati: Hayes Publishing Company.

Why are You Opposed to Abortion if it’s Legal?

Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right. At one time, slavery was legal in the United States. Slavery did not become wrong when it was abolished after the Civil War—slavery was always wrong. The injustice of slavery ended in large measure thanks to people like William Lloyd Garrison, Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, who spoke out against the unjust laws that kept millions of American blacks enslaved.

Likewise, the pro-life movement is speaking out against the unjust—but legal—killing of unborn human beings.

Can’t You be Personally Opposed to Abortion, but Still Think it Should be Legal?

Many people who are personally opposed to abortion—who consider abortion to be the unjust killing of a human being—still believe that abortion should be legal. They say that it’s impossible to stop abortion, so we need to keep abortion legal to reduce the risks associated with abortion. However, history does not support this analysis.

Between 1972 (the year before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion throughout the United States) and 1979, the nation’s abortion rate skyrocketed. But when Poland made abortion illegal in 193, its abortion rate plummeted.

The law is a powerful teacher, influencing people’s attitudes towards right and wrong. We cannot assume that if abortion were made illegal, the abortion rate would remain steady, with similar numbers of women seeking illegal abortions. The evidence above suggests the contrary.

Those who wish to make abortion rare must seek to make it illegal. That would not end all abortions, but it would dramatically reduce the nation’s abortion rate.

Source: Willke, John, MD and Barbara Willke. 2003. Abortion: Questions & Answers. Cincinnati: Hayes Publishing Company.

If You Make Abortion Illegal, Women will Die.

It is impossible to know how many illegal abortions were performed prior to 1973, since they were not reported. Still, we have a fairly accurate picture of how many women died from illegal abortions. A woman who was seriously injured as a result of abortion would go to another physician for care; if she died, that physician would accurately report her cause of death as abortion.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, after penicillin became available the number of deaths from abortion stabilized in the 195 0s to about 250 per year. By 1966, when abortion was still illegal in all 50 states, abortion deaths had dropped to half that number. In 1972, the year before the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide, only 39 women died—fewer than one per state.

Unfortunately, women are still dying from abortion. Life Dynamics has documented the deaths of 347 women from so-called “safe, legal abortion.”

Sources: Calderone, Mary S., MD 1960. Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem. American Journal of Public Health 50, no. 7 ( July). p. 949.

Life Dynamics Inc. The Blackmun Wall.

Willke, John, MD and Barbara Willke. 2003. Abortion: Questions & Answers. Cincinnati: Hayes Publishing Company.

Why Don’t You Care About Babies Once They’re Born?

The pro-life movement cares very much about babies, both before and after they’re born. That is why we have established a nationwide support system of pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) devoted to providing emotional and material support for women facing both untimely pregnancy and the demands of being a new parent.

Research shows abortion has increased rates of child abuse and other violent acts. Thus, decreasing the number of abortions means that fewer children will be abused.

Sources: Abortion Recovery Counseling. 2005. New Study Links Abortion To Increased Risk of Child Abuse.

Coleman, Priscilla K., PhD, Charles D.Maxey, Vincent M. Rue, PhD, and Catherine T. Coyle, RN, PhD. 2005. Associations Between Voluntary And Involuntary Forms of Perintal Loss And Child Maltreatment Among Low-Income Mothers. Acta Paediatrica 94: 10.

Why Don’t You Stop Trying to Impose Your Religion on Others?

A person does not have to believe in God to be pro-life. Science shows us that the unborn child is a genetically unique and separate person from his or her mother, even though dependent on the mother for survival. Research has also shown us that abortion hurts women (and men as well) and puts women at greater risk for a number of diseases.

For these reasons independent from religion, many non-religious individuals have been persuaded to join the pro-life movement.

Though the injustice of abortion can be clearly established without depending on religious arguments, religious faith plays an important role in inspiring people to take an active part in confronting that injustice. In other words, pro-lifers do not oppose abortion simply because their religion tells them to; rather, recognizing that abortion is wrong, their faith compels them to do something to right that wrong.

Why Don’t You Hand Out Contraceptives if You Really Want to Reduce Abortion?

On its face, it seems reasonable that if it is possible to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by means of contraception, then it is also possible to reduce the number of abortions. But in practice this strategy does not work, due to several factors.

First, while contraceptives do reduce the chances that pregnancy will result from an individual sexual act, the widespread use of contraceptives increases risky sexual behavior overall. This is demonstrated by the dramatic increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases and illegitimate births over the past four decades, even as contraception has become more and more widely available.

Next, we must realize that contraceptives often fail. Over half of the women who seek abortions each year report that they were using a contraceptive at the time they became pregnant. Of the nearly 12 million women on the birth control pill, eight to nine percent become pregnant each year, which means nearly a million pregnancies occur annually from Pill failure alone.

Another critical factor in why contraception is no solution for the problem of abortion is that the long-term use of contraceptives may predispose women to seek abortion when those contraceptives fail. Contraception severely weakens the link between a couple’s sexual activity and any responsibility to make a lifelong commitment or raise a family together. Pregnancy is no longer seen as a natural consequence of sex, but a negative side effect.

Moreover, the practice of repeatedly taking action—through the use of contraceptives—against the possibility of pregnancy may make it easier to take action—through abortion—to end a pregnancy when it occurs.

Those who continue to insist that contraception is the answer should explain why sexually transmitted diseases, illegitimate births, and abortion are endemic in American society today, despite the fact that contraceptives are available at any drug store, widely promoted in our schools, and heavily advertised in the media.

Promoting ever greater use of contraceptives will not work to reduce the number of abortions. Rather, we must work to change societal attitudes towards sex and reconnect sex with its proper context of marriage and family.

Sources: Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2003, April 30. Contraception less reliable than you might think.

Guttmacher Institute. 2008, July. Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States.

Why do you Want to Throw Women in Jail if They have Abortions?

The pro-life movement does not want to put women in jail for having abortions. Pro-lifers consider women to be victimized by abortion, whether it is legal or illegal. Laws against abortion would impose penalties on the abortionist, not the woman.

According to the pro-choice writer Rachel Benson Gold, when abortion was still illegal, “women were rarely convicted for having an abortion; instead, the threat of prosecution often was used to encourage them to testify against the provider.” Likewise, in states with laws restricting abortion today, penalties are imposed on the abortion practitioner, not the woman.

In fact, it was early feminists like Susan B. Anthony who fought to criminalize abortion in the 19th century. They recognized that abortion exploited and harmed women, so they called for new laws that would prevent doctors and other practitioners from performing abortions. If the law of the land on abortion were to change in the future, it would again be the abortion practitioners who would face penalties—not the women on whom they performed abortions.

Sources: Benson Gold, Rachel. 2003, March. Lessons from Before Roe: Will Past be Prologue? The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy 6, No 1.

Priests For Life. The Founders of Women’s Movement All Opposed Abortion.

Don’t we Need Abortion to Prevent Overpopulation?

Overpopulation is not a problem in the United States. According to the CIA World Factbook, the U.S. fertility rate is 2.1 children per couple, precisely at “replacement” level—the number of births needed to keep population steady. In other words, the U.S. population is stagnating.

Most European and Asian nations are well below the replacement rate. These nations will soon face a shortage of people of working age, with too few workers to support the elderly in their retirement. Even in developing nations, fertility rates have begun to steadily decline.

There is more than enough space on earth for the world’s population. In fact, every person in the world could comfortably live within the landmass of the state of Texas. The real problem is resource consumption, as developed nations consume resources at an alarming rate. While one solution to this problem might be to limit the number of people allowed to live on earth, a better solution would be to responsibly limit our consumption of the earth’s resources.

Sources: CIA World Factbook.2008. Rank Order-Total Fertility Rate.

Mosher, Steven. Did you know?

Population Research Institute. FAQ’s.

United Nations Population Division. 2005, February 25. Press Release Pop/918.

Why are you Opposed to Abortion when it helps Women so Much?

Although abortion advocates claim that abortion is necessary for women’s well-being, in fact abortion seriously harms the women who choose it. Women deserve better than abortion.

Abortion increases a woman’s risk of developing breast, cervical, ovarian, and liver cancers. Subsequent pregnancies are more likely to involve complications including placenta previa, premature labor, or ectopic pregnancy. Moreover, abortion is the fifth leading cause of maternal death in the United States, despite significant levels of underreporting. Women are also psychologically harmed by abortion.

Post-abortive women have higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse. They have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide more often. They are more likely to abuse their current children and to get divorced. Post-abortive women are more likely than the general population to seek counseling or hospitalization for depression.

Thousands of women who have experienced the negative impact of abortion in their lives have begun to speak out through programs like the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. They are sharing their stories of how abortion has harmed them on websites like and at

Sources: Deveber Institute. Summary Of Women’s Health After Abortion.

Elliot Institute. A List of Major Physical Sequelae Related To Abortion.

Ring-Cassidy, Elizabeth and Ian Gentles. 2003. Maternal Mortality. In Women’s Health After Abortion: The Medical And Psychological Evidence. Deveber Institute: Toronto.

Aren’t There Worse Evils than Abortion—Like War, Crime and Hunger?

There are many evils in this world, and all who dedicate their lives to fighting these evils are to be applauded. Those who are dedicated to fighting abortion believe that abortion is a serious enough evil to deserve a full-scale effort like the pro-life movement.

It might be helpful to compare the scope of abortion with the scope of other evils. In 2005, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 1.21 million abortions performed in the United States, or 3,315 abortions per day.

Since the founding of the United States in 176, 1.6 million Americans soldiers have been killed in battle. Since the legalization of abortion in 1973, over 49 million unborn Americans have been aborted—more than 30 times the number of war deaths. As of January 2009, approximately 4,200 Americans had died fighting in Iraq since hostilities began in 2003—which is 0.06% of the number of abortions during the same period. And on September 11, 2001, more lives were taken by abortion than in the terrorist attacks of that day.

In 2006, 17,000 people were murdered and 92,000 rapes were reported to the FBI—so abortion is 71 times more common than murder and 13 times more common than rape.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, members of some 3.8 million households will go hungry at some point during the year. While hunger is a tremendous social problem, especially in a country as wealthy as the United States, it cannot compare to the injustice of being killed; few Americans die of starvation, but millions are aborted.

Such problems as these deserve to be addressed by concerned Americans. If we would not chastise those who advocate against war, crime and hunger for focusing on the specific problems they feel called to address, why would we chastise those in the pro-life movement for focusing on ending abortion?

Sources: Centers for Disease Control. 2006.

FBI. 2006. Violent Crime.

Free Republic. Numbers of Americans Killed/Wounded By Action.

Guttmacher Institute. 2008, July. Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States. Iraq Casualty Coalition Count. 2009, January.

Times Online. 2008, September 11. New York Silent For 9/11 Memorial.

United States Department of Agriculture. 2002. Household Food Security in the United States.

Isn’t Abortion Safer than childbirth?

Abortion advocates often claim that abortion is much safer than childbirth. However, this claim does not stand up to a close examination of the evidence.

The official medical term that this claim is based on, “maternal mortality,” includes deaths from abortion, so the claim that abortion deaths are much lower than “maternal mortality” really says nothing. Moreover, “maternal mortality” includes deaths from hemorrhages, blood clots, ectopic pregnancies, infections, complications from high blood pressure or diabetes and more—not just from childbirth itself.

No accurate accounting of abortion deaths exists. Some studies show that 4% of all maternal mortality is due to abortion while others show 8%. Anecdotal evidence reveals substantial underreporting. For example, Dr. John C. Willke writes that a prolife physician friend did not report a girl’s cause of death as abortion because “that family has suffered enough and I’m not going to add to their woes by revealing that she had an abortion.”

Because the records of live births and stillbirths are public, it is easy to correlate deaths related to childbirth. Any woman who dies within one year of giving birth is automatically considered a maternal death for record-keeping purposes. But records from abortions are private. This means that unless a woman’s family reports that she had an abortion or somehow a coroner determines that she had an abortion, her death will not be included in the statistics for maternal mortality or abortion death.

Sources: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2007, February. Maternal Mortality and Related Concepts. Vital Health and Statistics 3, No 33.

Elliot Institute. A List Of Major Physical Sequelae Related To Abortion.

Khan, Khalid S., PhD, Daniel Wojdyla, Lale Say, MD, A. Metin Gülmezoglu, MD, Paul F. A. Van Look, MD. 2006. WHO Analysis of Causes of Maternal Death: A Systematic Review. The Lancet. 367: 1066-1074.

Willke, J.C., MD. Abortion v. Child Birth: Which Is Safer? Life Issues Institute.

If You’re Really Pro-Life, Why Don’t You Oppose the Death Penalty

Many pro-lifers question whether a society that allows the legal killing of more than a million unborn children each year can retain the moral authority to impose the penalty of death. However, the death penalty cannot be considered morally equivalent to abortion.

Abortion is a far more serious threat to human life than the death penalty. For every execution performed in the United States, there are more than 22,000 abortions. Moreover, the basic principles behind these two forms of legalized killing are fundamentally different.

Behind legal abortion is the principle that the life of the unborn child does not have intrinsic value, and therefore the state may withdraw protection from that life. Behind the death penalty is the principle that the life of the convicted criminal has so much value that to take that life constitutes the ultimate penalty society can impose.

Therefore, there is no inherent contradiction between opposing abortion and supporting the death penalty in principle. But there is a clear contradiction between opposing the execution of human beings guilty of heinous crimes and supporting the abortion of innocent unborn human beings.

Sources: Amnesty International 2006. Death Penalty Statistics.

Guttmacher Institute. 2008, July. Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States.


Further reading:

List of Major Physical Sequelae Related to Abortion

Abortion Risks