by Maureen Bailey
February 11, 2005
Last month, on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, the Bowie-Crofton Pregnancy Clinic, a suburban Washington D.C. crisis pregnancy center (CPC), was the target of "pro-choice" vandalism. The vandals shattered windows, trashed the clinic waiting room, and spray-painted the windows and entryway with "liars", "choice," and "womyn hater" (the "y" intended to deny any commonality with "men").
The timing of the crime to coincide with the thirty-second anniversary of Roe v. Wade is interesting. Do centers like the Bowie-Crofton Pregnancy Clinic threaten Roe?
The Bowie-Crofton clinic, like most CPCs, exists to empower women experiencing untimely pregnancies, by providing them with resources and alternatives to abortion. The clinic distributes maternity clothes, baby clothes, diapers and formula. It provides free pregnancy tests and counseling services. The clinic also provides a unique service: free 3D/4D ultrasounds allowing women to see detailed color images of their unborn babies in real time. How can the availability of such services, which help women make a well informed choice, threaten a court decision that is purportedly about "choice"?
Of course, these services do not directly affect Roe. Only changes in the composition of the Supreme Court will do that. But the availability of services such as sonography does expose the false premises upon which Roe was built: that the unborn child is only "potential" human life and that women, to be truly free, must have legal abortion available to them.
The Roe Court asserted: "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins." It referred to the unborn child as "potential life" that is unworthy of legal protection until the moment of birth. When a woman views an ultrasound image of her child, she knows such assertions are empty. Ultrasound technology shows the child as fully human and unique, and for that matter rather interesting. A British ultrasonographer has collected images of unborn children from the twelfth week walking, leaping, stretching, and kicking in the womb. Such a danger to Roe, for women to see their unborn children behaving in such ways!
The second false premise of Roe is that somehow abortion is needed to enhance women's rights. In fact, Roe did not elevate women's rights, but conditioned them. Once Roe made abortion readily available, women were expected to exercise this "right" to participate fully in society. There was then no need for society to provide women facing unplanned pregnancies with resources such as health care and financial support. Society's answer to these women is abortion. Crisis pregnancy centers, such as the Bowie-Crofton Pregnancy Clinic, provide women with a different answer: meaningful resources, so they need not feel forced to sacrifice the lives of their children.
We must keep working for a society that serves the authentic freedom of women and welcomes their children before and after birth. Roe v. Wade is a roadblock on our way to that better society, and so it must be overturned.
Maureen Bailey is a public policy analyst with the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops