Published January 17, 2022
Today our nation honors Martin Luther King Jr., who in his most famous address proclaimed, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The same remains true today, as pro-life Americans labor to vindicate that promissory note for all people, born and unborn. After 50 years of sanctioning nearly unlimited abortion, the Supreme Court is poised to overturn its decisions in Roe v. Wade (1973), which invented a constitutional right to abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which affirmed the “central holding” of Roe. In reality, there is nothing in our constitution that protects the “right to choose” lethal violence against the child in the womb. If the Court does the right thing in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Americans will finally be able to protect not only unborn children but also pregnant mothers from the harms of abortion.
The pro-life movement has been preparing for this opportunity for decades, but pro-lifers shouldn’t underestimate the challenge it presents. It is imperative to continue explaining the fundamental injustice of abortion: that it ends the lives of innocent human beings in the womb. The case against abortion must start there, but it should go further than that. In our new book, Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing, we argue that abortion has harmed every element of our society. Set to be published on June 28, coinciding with the Court’s anticipated ruling in Dobbs and available for pre-order now, the book aims to equip readers for this next chapter in the fight for life. When the Court does finally overturn Roe, it will not end our nation’s abortion debate — it will merely allow a full, legitimate one to begin. And pro-lifers will have plenty of work to do.
Since 1973, abortion has inflicted untold suffering on all of us. It has killed 65 million unborn children. It has pitted men against women and parents against their children. And it has undermined a sound vision of what it means to be human. As we explain in the book, the implicit assumption of pro-abortion activists is that the female body is somehow a defective version of the male body — which they take as the norm — and that women can be free and equal only if they are permitted to kill their unborn children. Rather than structuring our laws and forming our culture to foster solidarity and support for women, the pro-abortion movement treats the child as an intruder, a “parasite,” and a threat to neutralize. Emphasizing “autonomy” and “choice,” abortion supporters rarely acknowledge that many women feel pressured into abortion, experiencing it not as empowerment but as defeat. And many who call themselves “pro-choice” oppose efforts to help pregnant mothers choose life, revealing themselves to be much more pro-abortion than “pro-choice.”
Abortion has also corrupted many of our cherished values and institutions. As we document in the book, the eugenics movement of the early 20th century gave rise to the modern pro-abortion movement — an effort to avoid “populations that we don’t want to have too many of,” in the words of the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As we celebrate on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day all of our progress in the struggle for racial justice, we must also acknowledge the sad reality that the womb is a dangerous place for a black baby today; more black children are aborted each year in New York City than are born.
In many parts of the world, things are little better for baby girls. We cite research showing that there are 23 million missing girls around the world today, killed because of sex discrimination in the womb. Meanwhile, our book chronicles headlines praising the supposed eradication of Down syndrome, as if doctors had pioneered a cure for the genetic condition, when in reality it has become customary in the Western world to use abortion to eradicate people with Down syndrome. These forms of lethal discrimination perpetuate a culture in which some human beings are deemed unworthy of life. At the same time, abortion has affected our medical system, turning the tools of healing into weapons and treating pregnancy as a disease to be cured. We document how major medical organizations have persistently lied about the reality of abortion, transforming themselves into partisan activist groups. We also note how women often don’t receive the medical care and counseling they deserve and sometimes suffer from long-term physical and psychological consequences after abortion.
No book on abortion could fail to highlight how Roe and the past 50 years of Court-imposed abortion on demand have undermined the rule of law and constitutional self-government. The desire to preserve Roe and unlimited abortion has turned judicial nominations into a political football and transformed the confirmation process into a toxic mess. Because of how abortion has polarized our politics and corrupted Democratic politicians, many citizens have become alienated from one of our major political parties and dependent on the other, even if they disagree with Republicans on other policy issues. It has led two generations of Democratic politicians absurdly — and in a way directly contrary to the vision of Dr. King — to deny that their moral and religious beliefs should influence their political and legal ones, leading to the embarrassing rhetoric of being “personally opposed” to abortion but politically for “choice.” This was the sort of doublespeak that Dr. King railed against in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” in which he explained how religion and morality must play a central role in our political life: “A just law is a manmade code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.” And as we explain in our book, our nation’s abortion laws are profoundly unjust.
Abortion has harmed much of our culture, too, whether or not we notice it. In the book, we cover the bias of legacy media outlets, which obscure the truth about abortion and often promote falsehoods. We document social-media censorship that has limited the ability of pro-lifers to share accurate resources about abortion. We chronicle the growing effort to glamorize abortion on TV and in movies, as well as the corporate culture that increasingly embraces and promotes abortion. Responding to the scourge of abortion will require both legal and cultural measures, efforts both to prohibit lethal violence in the womb and to assist mothers and families in need.
None of us are better off in a political community that allows or endorses lethal violence against the most vulnerable members of the human family. Ending the destructive regime of abortion will require making this comprehensive case against the killing of the unborn, recognizing that both political and cultural change will be necessary to make abortion not only illegal — the first step — but also unthinkable. We need laws that protect the unborn child and policies that affirm the importance of strong marriages and families. And we need to foster a culture within which no pregnant mother sees the life inside her as an obstacle and no woman is left to walk the path of motherhood alone.
Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing is our effort to explain how abortion has devastated our nation. It is our hope that this book will help readers become stronger defenders of unborn children, championing laws and policies that will build a culture of life.
Alexandra DeSanctis is a staff writer for National Review and a visiting fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Flickr: American Life League
Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., is the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.