Roe v. Wade will turn 40 next year, leading many to consider how the decision has affected America’s women and families.  Abortion advocates are already laying the groundwork for what will certainly become a jarring celebration of a life-ending procedure.

Planned Parenthood Action’s website invites individuals to post statements about what Roe has meant to them.  The presently posted comments largely follow the same theme—“because of Roe, I have been able to do X” (e.g., go to college, start a family years after an abortion, follow my dreams).  In other words, these individuals believe that, but for the availability of abortion when they faced unexpected pregnancies, they would not have continued full, happy lives.

Tragically, this perception reflects a philosophy—one endorsed by the courts in Roe and blatantly promoted by abortion-rights advocates—that unnaturally pits women against their children.

An unexpected, unborn child growing in a mother’s womb is cast as an antagonist in his or her mother’s story, determined to spoil the plot.  The only way that a woman’s story can continue towards the happy ending she desires—a college education, a career, a relationship—is to rid herself of the tiny, defenseless antagonist.  In fact, according to this philosophy, women do not have a shot at accomplishing what their male counterparts can accomplish without the availability of abortion.

This “woman vs. child” philosophy leaves no room for a baby to fill the pages of his or her mother’s story with new, beautiful challenges and rewards. It limits a woman’s joys to those that may come from paid work. It belittles women by portraying them as incapable of fulfilling both the dream of a satisfying career and the creation of a family.

It also ignores the inspiring stories of countless women who have given life to their children in the face of difficult circumstances, as well as the heart-breaking stories of those who regret, or have been physically or psychologically scarred by, an abortion.

Further, under this philosophy, a woman is all alone—her family, friends, church, and community are robbed of the opportunity to help her care for her baby while she continues to pursue her dreams.   It is painfully ironic that abortion advocates argue that women are too weak, too powerless, too friendless, and too lacking in fortitude to thrive as mothers when their circumstances are not “ideal.”

Finally, the philosophy shuts out an alternate and equally life-affirming plot twist—one in which a woman entrusts her baby to another family through the gift of adoption.  Long adoption waiting lists are a testimony to the aching arms longing to take up the children whose mothers believe adoption is the best choice for their children.

President Obama also endorsed the “woman vs. child” philosophy in his recent statement on the anniversary 39th of Roe, commanding that “as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams” (emphasis added).

In reality, when it comes to the creation of a family, Roe gives women more rights than men.

Men have no control over the destiny of their unborn children.  A man has no court-given right to plead for his child’s life, and no freedom or opportunity to be a father unless his baby’s mother so chooses.

If a pregnant woman’s dream to continue her life without a child competes with a man’s dream to take responsibility and be a father to that child, the woman’s dream gets fulfilled, and the man’s does not.

So, what does Roe truly mean for America?

It means the virtual obliteration of societal encouragement and affirmation for women who want to bring “unexpected” children into the world.  It means that women today are condescendingly told that, without abortion, they are unable to realize their full potential.  It means that men are helpless to plead for the lives of their unborn babies.  And it means that approximately 52 million unborn American children, robbed of any “rights, freedoms, and opportunities,” have been aborted since Roe.


However, I wouldn’t count on finding this reflection on the Planned Parenthood website. The only narratives they accept and post are from woman tragically convinced that their futures hinge on ending the lives of their own children.

Mary Harned is staff counsel at Americans United for Life