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Ignorance of America’s abortion extremism

Pro-abortion advocates and the media play down the permissiveness of U.S. laws


Bill Maher Associated Press/Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision

Ignorance of America’s abortion extremism

Americans know shockingly little about their country’s abortion laws. Many people do not realize that the United States is an extreme outlier when it comes to abortion, permitting the killing of an unborn child during all nine months of pregnancy. The system imposed by Roe v. Wade prevents states from protecting life until viability, around 22 weeks of gestation, and is more permissive than the abortion laws in all but five other countries around the world.

You read that right. Plus Roe requires states to permit on-demand abortions at a gestational age forbidden by all but about a dozen countries in the entire world. And it allows states like California, New York, Vermont, and Virginia to permit abortion up until the moment before birth—again, something only six countries allow.

On a recent episode of Real Time, host Bill Maher confessed to his own ignorance regarding U.S. abortion law. He explained to his panelists his surprise that European countries are much more protective of unborn life than the United States. The panelists’ response? Crickets. The left has no good answer to the argument that U.S. abortion law is vastly out of step with the rest of the world. In fact, 47 out of 50 European countries, independent states, and regions either do not allow on-demand abortions at all or limit them to 15 weeks of gestation or earlier. Even European nations with highly permissive abortion laws like France, Norway, and Switzerland have a gestational limit of 14 weeks. And not a single European nation is as extreme as the United States, which allows abortion throughout all nine months of a woman’s pregnancy.

According to the United Nations, only 34 percent of nations permit elective on-demand abortions at any stage of pregnancy. A total of 117 countries permit abortion only on narrow grounds (if at all). And even most of the nations that do allow elective abortions limit them to 12 weeks gestational age. Only eight countries allow elective abortions at 20 weeks, the developmental age when the baby can hear her mother’s heartbeat. The countries where abortion on demand is legal throughout all nine months of a woman’s pregnancy can nearly be counted on one hand. As Chief Justice John Roberts noted during oral argument in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the abortion regime mandated by Roe puts us in the company of countries like China and North Korea—neither known for stellar human rights records.

The pro-abortion left in America has no good answer to the fact that nearly every other country in the world is more protective of unborn life than is the United States under Roe v. Wade.

Why are liberal talking heads so surprised to learn that European countries are much more protective of their unborn children? The facts regarding comparative abortion law are obscured by pro-abortion rhetoric and the media’s failure to tell the truth about abortion. In fact, The Washington Post didn’t believe the Trump administration when it claimed the United States was one of only a few countries to permit on-demand abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. The Post fact-checked this “dramatic statistic” and professed itself surprised when data from both sides of the abortion debate confirmed it. The Post performed its own analysis and concluded that the United States has the fourth most permissive abortion laws of any country.

Pro-abortion advocates often claim that a majority of Americans oppose reversing Roe. But that claim is true only when the polling question is vague, perhaps intentionally so. When a poll question drills down on what the American people really think about abortion, most disagree with the extreme system of laws imposed by Roe. For instance, Gallup polls since 1996 have consistently shown that 65 percent of Americans oppose abortions during the second trimester (something mandated by Roe) and more than 80 percent oppose abortions during the third trimester (something permitted by Roe).

Indeed, a recent Wall Street Journal poll found that more Americans favor restrictions on abortion after 15 weeks of gestation than do not. It is not hard to see why. At 15 weeks, a baby fully appears in human form (and, of course, has had the same human nature since conception). He can open and close his fingers, move and stretch, and even hiccup. His heart has been beating for months, and he can quite likely feel pain. The nearly 50 years of scientific progress since Roe confirms what the Bible has always taught: that a baby is fearfully and wonderfully made, created in the image of God, and worth protecting at every stage of development.

The pro-abortion left in America has no good answer to the fact that nearly every other country in the world is more protective of unborn life than is the United States under Roe v. Wade. The only response offered by Bill Maher, for example, is the unpalatable position that “life is not necessarily precious.” Maher is wrong. Every life is precious, a gift from God, who breathed life into each of us and called it good.


Erin Hawley

Erin Hawley is a wife, mom of three, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, and former law professor.


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