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After Scott Roeder, Taking on the Abortion Discussion

I've supported a woman's right to have an abortion as long as I can remember. But nothing solidified this view more that having children of my own. And I have to say, I was extremely relieved on Friday when I saw that Scott Roeder was convicted of first degree murder in the killing of George Tiller, one of the last American doctors to perform abortions later in pregnancy.

Roeder, has said he acted in order to “halt the deaths of babies," and his supporters, many of whom descended on the courthouse during the trial, seem to buy this logic. But while these supporters may be vocal, it is important to remember, they aren't the majority.

In fact, the majority of Americans continue to support a woman's right to have a legal abortion. The Pew Research Center found that “in two major surveys conducted in 2009 among a total sample of more than 5,500 adults, views of abortion are about evenly divided, with 47% expressing support for legal abortion and 44% expressing opposition."

It's true that this support is down, and as Pew further reports, "four-in-ten Americans (41%) now favor making it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion, up six points from 2007 (35%).” But there is a big leap between supporting further restrictions for abortion and killing a doctor who has dedicated his life to helping women obtain this medical procedure.

I sometimes wonder if the "moderate" anti-abortionists can be reached by facts. For example that:

  • the vast majority of abortions occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • carrying any pregnancy to term is more dangerous to a woman's health than is an early abortion.
  • about 60% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children already.
  • history has shown that making abortion illegal will not end the practice.


  • that health issues, and the inability to access abortion (either due to location, waiting limits, parental notification requirements, or cost) are the major contributing factors to having a later abortion, not simple callousness. 1 2

Obviously, information like this means nothing to the Scott Roeder's of the world. But I hope it isn't too much wishful thinking to believe that the average abortion opponent can somehow be reached with a reality check.

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