Advocates of abortion and early activists seeking abortion law reform, used arguments designed to persuade people that abortion would be beneficial for women in particular, and society as a whole.
Abortion was supposed to empower women, free them from the rigours of childbearing and the drudgery of housework, and enable them to achieve an equal place with men in the workforce.
Several decades later many women are wondering when this freedom, empowerment and equality is going to have a positive impact on their lives.
Women appear to be the losers when it comes to abortion.
In the 1960s the birth control pill was promoted as a way in which women could be equal with men, having all the pleasure of sex whenever they wanted, without the fear of consequences. One unexpected early side-effect of 'The Pill' was that some women died. Researchers found that lowering the dose of oestrogen and progesterone reduced the risk of deep-vein blood clots that gave rise to pulmonary-embolisms.
A woman's problem
The lower-dose pill, however, meant that there were a number of 'break-through' ovulations each year, and despite the Pill working to alter the lining of the womb some of the embryos attached and thrived. Men who wanted sex without any obligations put pressure on women to have an abortion - it was, after all, safe and legal.
For many girls and women, this was the final death of romance for them - Prince Charming had turned out to be a toad who only wanted to use them, or rather, their bodies. Women who chose not to have an abortion often found themselves abandoned by the man and faced the hard life of a single parent.
Single parenthood has been said to be the single most indicator of poverty for a woman. New Zealand has the developed world's second highest percentage of single parent families. Lack of support, especially of adequate day care, has been one of the toughest barriers a single working mother has had to face, although there are signs that this is changing.
Having to come to terms an increasing lack of romance and with reduced prospects of marriage with men who preferred sex without strings, women retaliated. Women, finally buying the 'equality' message began to indulge in uncommitted relationships while putting their energies into building a career and enjoying the 'party life.'
Freely available abortion as a back-up to birth control has meant a woman can - and has - chosen to delay childbearing and/or marriage until her mid-30s. A consequence of this delayed childbearing has seen many infertile women/couples having to resort to Fertility Clinics for help.
In a study of 100 women carried out by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in the US (75 of whom were married or in committed relationships), 46% agreed that the abortion provoked a major crisis in their lives which was frequently followed by an unstable marital or social relationship.
Other studies put the figure of relationship breakdowns as high as 70% in the first 12 months following abortion. This is particularly found with unmarried relationships, or when the husband either did not know in advance or objected to the abortion.
Abortion and men
Abortion has also had a negative effect on men.
Except in China, a man, married or otherwise, has no legal right to force a woman either to have an abortion or to bear his child. This has led to many men complaining that not only has this left them disenfranchised (deprived of a legal right), it has caused many to experience a feeling of powerlessness, especially when the father has offered to raise the child himself.
The traditional role of men has been to provide and protect. Abortion has fractured that role for many men, leaving them confused as to what their role now is. With the advent of in vitro fertilisation and many single women choosing motherhood but not marriage, many men see themselves as no more than 'sperm donors.' Some men are quite happy to accept this role but others are resentful.
Men who pressure the mother of their child to submit to an abortion often later feel as though they have violated an important and fundamental part of a man's nature - i.e. to defend and protect his child. This can become apparent later in life as maturity causes him to look back at his actions.
Another effect of this breaking down the barriers is that, having already violated his nature by asking or allowing a woman to have an act of violence kill his child, he feels less restraint at inflicting violence on her or others. Rates of domestic violence and child abuse have risen since the legalisation or decriminalisation of abortion.
Abortion and children
One of the main arguments abortion advocates used was that unwanted children were victims of child abuse, and were more likely to grow up to be criminals. In America the National Abortion Rights Action League, now NARAL Pro-Choice America, stated:
"A policy that makes contraception and abortion freely available will greatly reduce the number of unwanted children, and thereby curb the tragic rise of child abuse in our country ... Legal abortion will decrease the number of unwanted children, battered children, child abuse cases, and possibly subsequent delinquency, drug addiction, and a host of social ills believed to be associated with neglectful parenthood."
Larry Lader, a co-founder of NARAL and an early abortion activist, said, "The impact of the abortion revolution may be too vast to assess immediately. It should usher in an era when every child will be wanted, loved, and properly cared for; when the incidence of infanticides and battered children should be sharply reduced."
Opponent have pointed out that history has shown the opposite to have occured. Children, they say, are now viewed as property, a product and a 'right', not a unique human being or a 'blessing.'. They believe that the widespread practice of infanticide of born children in hospitals, and parental abuse, are an inevitable flow-on from what they call the wholesale abuse of unborn children.
Dr. Philip G. Ney, head of the Department of Psychiatry at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Canada, has outlined some psychological mechanisms showing how abortion leads directly to child abuse.
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