By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director
When I became actively involved in the behind-the-scenes work of legislative advocacy on behalf of pregnant women and their babies, I quickly learned that wishful thinking wasn’t going to cut it.
Early on, when I was working in another state, we encountered a situation in which a young, idealistic state lawmaker wanted to introduce a bill requiring spousal consent before an abortion. He reasoned that the father of a child should have a say in whether that child’s life should be taken away by an abortionist.
The only trouble was, the U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled that even spousal notification — letting a husband know that his wife was considering abortion — was impermissible under Roe v. Wade. That decision was part of the landmark case known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey — a case which centered on Pennsylvania’s own Abortion Control Act. Thankfully, much of the Act was upheld. The common sense provisions include obtaining a parent’s permission before an abortion…a 24-hour waiting period prior to abortion…and informing the pregnant woman of the risks of abortion. The act has been in effect since 1994, and the Pennsylvania abortion rate subsequently has been cut in half.
A veteran pro-lifer also told me early on that there was no single way to end the tragedy of legal abortion. Research shows that protective laws like Pennsylvania’s do reduce abortion. And we know from experience that when taxpayer funding of abortion occurs, the abortion rate skyrockets. Therefore, preventing public funding of abortion does, indeed, save lives and it prevents women from suffering the harm of abortion.
But for a law to work, it must take effect. And if a law is tied up in the courts and is eventually struck down, it will never have its intended consequence. This is why common sense, rather than wishful thinking, must prevail when it comes to pursuing legislation.
Some quite intriguing research shows that 80 percent of post-abortive women say that they would not have chosen abortion had one person — just one person — supported a decision for life.
Roe must go–no question about it. We must use all peaceful means — from protective laws to powerhouse Facebook postings — to limit Roe’s disastrous effects. But we cannot let wishful thinking cloud our judgment, and we must never forget the power of one — one person reaching out to a pregnant woman, listening to the heartbreaking challenges she may be facing, and letting her know that she is not alone.