The pro-abortion machine has been working overtime to churn out lies about preborn babies and laws designed to protect them. Just Wednesday, after a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate defeated the legislature’s most radical abortion bill in history, pro-aborts on Capitol Hill and in the corporate media were declaring that “Republicans” (in fact a bipartisan majority that included Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin) had used the “filibuster” (rather than a simple 51-49 vote) to defeat the bill.
The lying started more than 50 years ago with Norma McCorvey of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. McCorvey later admitted “she had fabricated her account of being raped by three men and a woman in 1969 because she had hoped to circumvent a 100-year-old Texas law that banned abortions except when the woman’s life was in danger,” as The New York Times reported.
Here are five of many more Roe lies to be aware of, along with ways to counter them.
1. Reversing Roe Will Put Women in Jail for Abortions
Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut claimed last Sunday that the leaked Supreme Court decision means “women and doctors are going to be sent to jail immediately when this opinion becomes a reality.”
But Murphy, an attorney, failed to explain that prior to Roe, when abortion was illegal in nearly every state, women weren’t being rounded up in jails for having abortions. Who would even lobby for such laws? Abortionists might get jail time, as “legal” abortionist Kermit Gosnell did in Pennsylvania, but women were not prosecuted or sent to jail even for self-abortion.
As Villanova University law professor Joseph Dellapenna noted, in the 19th and 20th centuries, “Courts rationalized their view of women as victims of abortion … by declaring that a woman ‘was not deemed able to assent to an unlawful act against herself.’ This attitude was reinforced by the reality that generally no conviction of the abortionist could be obtained without the testimony of the woman who underwent the abortion.”
Dellapenna also pointed out that states like New York “enacted immunity statutes … to protect women from prosecution if they would testify against their abortionists.”
2. Women Will be Prosecuted for Self-Abortion if Roe Is Reversed
Attorney Paul Linton performed exhaustive case review background work on the actual practice of prosecuting abortionists in the United States. He could not find even “one reported case from any State, prior to Roe, in which a woman was prosecuted, convicted and sentenced for inducing her own abortion, or for consenting to an abortion performed upon her by a third party.”
There were only two reported abortion cases, he found, “in which a woman was even charged for having had an abortion.” In Pennsylvania, a woman took a drug to produce abortion, but the trial judge refused to enter the jury’s guilty finding because “the statute was not intended to apply to the woman.”
The order was affirmed on appeal. A Texas case from 1922 notes that a woman was indicted, but there was no record that the woman was ever tried or convicted and sentenced.
3. Women Will be Prosecuted for Miscarriage
Abortion advocates also claim that women who miscarry could be criminally prosecuted. Pregnancy loss before 20 weeks gestation can result from non-controlled diabetes, infections, hormone conditions, uterine or cervix problems, or thyroid disease. These have nothing to do with intentional, induced abortion. Miscarriage occurs in 26 percent of all pregnancies “and up to 10% of clinically recognized pregnancies.”
Paul Wohlers noted in The Washington Post in 1981 that the term “miscarriage” in some older state statutes referred to induced abortion. But after a thorough search of state abortion prosecutions from the mid-1800s, he concluded that “In no case was a spontaneous miscarriage made the object of criminal investigation or prosecution.”
Further, a prosecutor would have great difficulty convincing a judge or jury that a particular early miscarriage (before 20 weeks) resulted from an intentional action of the woman. It would be nearly impossible for a criminal prosecutor to procure the body (corpus delicti) of a miscarried child to initiate a criminal trial, to prove a defendant intentionally caused a miscarriage.
One pro-abortion group claimed “There’s no medical way to tell the difference between a miscarriage and a medication abortion,” in an attempt to argue that victims of miscarriage could be prosecuted. But that very fact means no prosecutor could thus prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the child’s death was due to abortion.
4. Reversing Roe Will Criminalize Pill and IUD Use
Forbes Magazine last week suggested that reversing Roe will lead to birth control pills being outlawed because “defining the life of an ‘unborn child’ as starting at fertilization or conception … would affect common birth control methods.” But users of IUDs or the Pill were never prosecuted under the criminal abortion laws that were in place prior to Roe, so why would they be prosecuted if Roe is reversed? Most of the abortion laws prior to Roe defined the unborn child’s life as beginning at fertilization or conception.
Harriet Pilpel, Planned Parenthood’s lawyer, filed an amicus brief in 1971 noting that state criminal abortion laws had not “made any effort to outlaw the use of the intrauterine device which may in fact function to prevent implantation after fertilization has occurred.”
Pilpel’s testimony before Congress in 1976 explained one practical reason why women had not been prosecuted for using drugs or devices that prevented pregnancy after fertilization: “Since it is not possible scientifically … to determine either when fertilization or implantation occurs … it would be impossible in cases of early pregnancies to know when and whether it was being violated.”
Further, as eminently principled pro-life advocate and late Notre Dame law professor Charles Rice wrote, “Early abortifacients are beyond the effective reach of the law. It will usually be impossible to prove that life was terminated in an early abortion; prosecution for abortion therefore would be practically impossible.”
“Since ‘contraceptive’ drugs are licensed for legitimate uses, it is practically impossible to prevent their use for abortion,” he continued. “The legal obliteration of the distinction between contraception and abortion has put chemical abortion beyond the practical reach of the law.”
5. ‘The Unborn Have Never Been Recognized in the Law as Persons’
This lie comes from Justice Henry Blackmun in the Roe decision itself. But in footnote 34 of Roe, Justice Harry Blackmun cited Eugene Quay’s article, “Justifiable Abortion — Medical and Legal Foundations,” which excerpted laws from 19 states and Washington, D.C., all of which classified abortion as manslaughter or second-degree murder, or had similar penalties for such. Quay also included excerpts from 24 state laws prohibiting abortion, all of which used the words “child” or “children,” which can only mean a living human being, a person.
Justice Alito cited Eugene Quay’s same article on page 23 of his working brief.
At the time Roe was decided in 1973, all states had either restricted or prohibited abortion. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia banned abortion because the child was fully human. Even radically pro-abortion President Joe Biden couldn’t help admitting that the subject of an abortion is indeed a “child.”
More than 63 million children have had their lives legally taken by abortion since 1973 under Roe. Isn’t it past time that the Supreme Court, which has reversed itself at least 232 times since 1808, according to the Library of Congress, at least let citizens have a say in whether this dreadful practice deserves to stand?
Robert Marshall was a member of the Virginia General Assembly from 1992 to 2018, and is the author of “Reclaiming the Republic: How Christians and other Conservatives Can Win Back America.” Email him at [email protected]