Across most of the Western world, abortion has been legal in some circumstances for several decades. There have been several exceptions, most notably Ireland and Poland. These countries are hugely significant, because they show clearly that the apocalyptic rhetoric of abortion activists—that any country restricting abortion will morph into a third world hellhole with dismal standards for women’s health and gruesome back alley abortions—are scaremongering fabrications. In reality, Western countries in the twenty-first century can protect the lives of their citizens, born and pre-born, and the only “consequence” is a higher birthrate.
There is hope for pro-lifers in the abortion wars throughout the West. Legislative successes in the United States have been on the rise, the pro-life movement in many countries is growing, and now, Poland is moving to ensure that abortion loopholes are closed. From The Washington Post:
Since 1993, Poland has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe: abortion is only available in cases of grave fetal defect, rape/incest, or threat to the life of the mother, and only within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This law replaced communist-era laws that made abortion widely available for four decades, and was termed a “compromise” between the proponents of a total ban and those who wanted a public referendum on the matter.
But now a new bill, pushed by a pro-life foundation and the Ordo Iuris legal institute, would make abortion illegal in all circumstances. Doctors who performed an abortion could be punished with jail terms of up to five years. The only exception would be the “unintended” death of a fetus while saving a woman’s life.
As you can imagine, the response of abortion activists has been apoplectic, especially considering that Poland has been moving steadily in the pro-life direction for quite some time:
The restrictions on abortion are not new. Poland’s existing and highly restrictive law has been on the books for more than two decades, with the acquiescence (if not agreement) of the Church. Two doctors must approve the procedure, but many have been unwilling to do so. Since the law passed, the number of legal abortions performed annually fell from more than 100,000 to fewer than 1,000.
Interestingly, one of the ways Poland’s pro-life movement raises awareness about the reality of abortion is by showing people photos of abortion victims. To change the views of Poles on abortion, they work hard to ensure that many people view abortion, a tactic that would seem rather obviously intuitive. The Guardian has been reporting on these tactics with some concern:
Poland’s abortion debate is national, but its symbols are distinctly international. Mariusz Dzierżawski, perhaps the best-known anti-abortion activist in Poland, said in an interview that his use of graphic images comes from the United States.
“We did not create these tactics,” said Dzierżawski, whose organisation StopAbortion planned the 2010 demonstrations in Poznań, and is behind the current movement for a complete ban. Dzierżawski said his “inspiration” is Gregg Cunningham, an American anti-abortion activist who visited Poland in 2004.
Dzierżawski added that his images came directly from Cunningham’s organisation, the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, whose website links to 15 “international affiliates” in Europe, Africa and North America. The website – which also takes credit for the comparison between abortion and genocide – attracted media attention in 2015, when its graphic videos were described in a debate by then presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina.
Breaking the conspiracy of silence surrounding abortion and forcefully exposing what it actually is should be a prominent goal of the pro-life movement across the West. We have been beaten, and beaten badly in the war of words—when we debate “choice,” we lose. However, when we debate what is being chosen—and show a horrified public the gruesome, murderous reality behind the pleasant words of abortion activists, then we fundamentally redefine what the debate will be about.
I’ve heard many pro-lifers agree that yes, we should use photographic evidence of what abortion does to the pre-born child in the womb—but “only when necessary.” I’m always curious as to when that might be, exactly, in countries where babies are shredded by suction machines in their thousands every day. What constitutes an emergency these days, anyhow?
It reminds me of a story Ronald Reagan once related, about an elderly British lady whose home was leveled by Nazi bombers during the London Blitz. Only the pantry remained standing amidst the rubble, and as she was being carried out in a stretcher, a firefighter rummaged about in the pantry and surfaced with a little bottle of liquor. He popped the cork out to hold it to her lips, hoping to revive her. At the sound of the cork, the lady stirred, opened her eyes, and sharply reprimanded the helpful firefighter: “Put that back where you found it, that’s for emergencies.”
It is possible to change the minds of our fellow citizens on abortion. I have witnessed this happen hundreds, if not thousands of times, with my own eyes. We know that change is possible. Ireland shows us that a Western country can actually enshrine rights for pre-born children into its constitution. And Poland shows us that pro-life activists fighting as constantly, relentlessly, and strategically as their opponents can accomplish things that many say are impossible.