Lecture: More teen pregnancies lead to more abortions
By KEVIN SCHUMM
Over the past three decades, changing attitudes attributed to the sexual revolution have led Americans to view abortion as a "fail-safe contraceptive," said Clarke Forsythe, president of Americans United for Life (AUL).
Many Americans today are misinformed about abortion because of marketing of the procedure during the 1960s, Forsythe said. Currently, one in three pregnancies in the United States ends in abortion.
Although the procedure was marketed as a tool to "end illegitimacy, poverty and child abuse and promote maternal health," it commonly causes side effects in the woman, ranging from infection and excessive bleeding to cervical damage and endotoxic shock, Forsythe explained.
Furthermore, he said several studies of American women report an increased risk of breast cancer after having an induced abortion.
AUL's goal is to counter the widely held opinion that "abortion promises no consequences." AUL is a very strong advocate of Woman's Right To Know (WRTK) laws, which mandate that adequate information on the risks of and alternatives to abortion be presented to the mother so that she may make an informed decision. Pennsylvania currently has a WRTK law.
Despite its possibly harmful effects, polls show that some teens view abortion as an effective means of contraception. According to a poll conducted by the Center for Disease Control, the teen birth rate in 1972 went from 22 per 1,000 teens to 42 per 1,000 teens in 1990. Similarly, the abortion rates soared from 20 per 1,000 in 1972 to 43 per 1,000 teens in 1990.
"The bottom line is that the number of teenagers getting pregnant nearly doubled in 1990," said Forsythe.
Accompanying this increase in sexual activity is the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, said Forsythe. A common STD known as HPV, which contributes to over 90 percent of annual cervical cancer deaths, affects about 24 million Americans.
In a recent Gallup poll, 60 percent of Middle America — defined as those people not absolutely pro-life or pro-choice — are in fact, "deeply troubled" by the prevalence of abortion.
"Americans see abortion as a necessary evil," Forsythe said, explaining that many myths alluding to the occurrence and prevalence of back-alley abortions developed during the 1960s. The promulgation of these myths led many modern Americans to believe that the "restoration of abortion laws would be worse," Forsythe said.
Because of Roe v. Wade, some Americans in the 1970s viewed abortion as crucial to the future of the United States. Acknowledging that abortion has become ingrained in modern American society, Forsythe advocates the development of a new vision void of abortion.
This change in vision will lead to a dramatically different culture that must start on the personal level with individuals adopting positive ideals, Forsythe said. He specifically cited the need to develop positive conceptions of marriage.
"The sexual revolution must give way to a culture of fulfilling, committed relationships," said Forsythe.
Through his efforts with AUL, Forsythe wants to focus on "dispelling the myth of abortion being good for women."
All News Stories for Thursday, February 10, 2000