This past week wasn’t the best for the abortion lobby in America.
Last Tuesday, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a “heartbeat bill,” banning abortions statewide after six weeks of gestation. Next door, Alabama is on the verge of enacting what would become the most restrictive abortion law in the country.
In fact, 2019 as a whole is looking like it won’t be a great year for abortionists in decades, as hundreds of anti-abortion bills in 36 states are being considered. One of these could make it all the way to the Supreme Court, which now has a conservative majority thanks to President Donald Trump’s appointment of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
The abortion lobby is, of course, not happy with these developments. Pro-abortion lawmakers in several states are scrambling to pass laws to ensure it remains legal regardless of a new Supreme Court ruling on abortion. If they could have it their way, abortion would be available on demand even to the point of birth in every state, as it now is in New York.
But what they don’t understand is that having abortion on deman can have terrible consequences on a society — consequences which I have seen firsthand in India.
Abortion became legal in India in 1971, and while many activists celebrated it as a step forward for women’s rights, it has had the opposite effect. Around the same time abortion was legalized, prenatal sex determination was becoming available. In a society that sadly values male children over females, this technology allowed parents to get rid of unwanted pregnancies — mainly girls.
Conservative estimates indicate that more than 12 million female fetuses have been aborted over the past four decades, but the total is likely much higher. In 2015, India’s women and child development minister estimated that 2,000 girls are killed every day, through abortion or by other means at birth. Although gender-selective abortion was outlawed in 1994 by the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, it’s believed many parents still do it.
India’s gender-selective abortion practice has resulted in a skewed male-female balance. Today, India has 37 million more men than women. This enormous disparity manifests itself in a countrywide male crisis, as millions of Indian men will likely never marry. The disparity has been linked to increased sex crimes against women, including harassment, rape, and even human trafficking.
China, India’s northwestern neighbor, is dealing with a similar crisis. The country’s infamous one-child policy created a surplus of 35 million men who are lonely and, in some cases, so desperate they resort to buying brides from abroad. According to reports, tens of thousands of women from South Asia and beyond come to China — sometimes willingly, often trafficked — to marry single men.
India and China’s crises were made possible through permissive abortion laws, technological advances and cultures that valued some lives over others. Were abortion to be unrestricted in America, who is to say a similar situation will not develop? Right now, in most states parents can terminate a pregnancy if the fetus gets diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Pro-abortionists argue that aborting an unborn baby with Down Syndrome is actually merciful because it spares him or her from having a difficult life, but why would this child’s life be any less valuable? And why would this child not have the right to live, regardless of whatever complications it might be born with? Ask any woman who is the mother of a child who has a disability, and she will tell you her child is precious, unique, and a blessing to their family.
Human personhood goes beyond being biologically perfect. Human beings are greater than the sum total of their bodies’ individual parts. When we reduce a human being to a “body part,” we rob them of their personhood. We recently saw this happen in a heated CNN interview when one commentator said, “When a woman gets pregnant, that is not a human being inside of her.”
Yes, women do have a right over their bodies, but we also must recognize there is always the need for reasonable restriction of any individual civil right. This is why, for example, defamation laws exist. These laws are in place so one person’s right will not infringe on another’s.
Reasonable limitations also should apply to abortion. There is no human being more vulnerable than an unborn child who cannot defend his or her right to live. Aren’t the laws of our nation supposed to protect the weakest among us?
Abortionists in America must realize the laws they adopt are not without consequences around the world. In many ways, America still sets the tone for just and moral governing. An unrestricted right to abortion anywhere dehumanizes our societies and harms the very people it’s supposed to benefit — women.
Most Rev. Joseph D’Souza is an internationally renowned human and civil rights activist. He is the founder of Dignity Freedom Network, an organization that advocates for and delivers humanitarian aid to the marginalized and outcastes of South Asia. He is archbishop of the Anglican Good Shepherd Church of India and serves as the president of the All India Christian Council.