We Need to Abort Prayer

Published by Minnesota Atheists on

By Eric Jayne

Photo of sign featuring Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and the text "Pray to end abortion".

About one in five known pregnancies ends in a natural abortion (i.e. miscarriage) according to the Mayo Clinic website.  If the American Pregnancy Association is right there are about 6 million known pregnancies every year in the United States. That means that there are roughly 1.2 million natural abortions each year in this country.  The estimate is a conservative one since many miscarriages occur in the early stages of pregnancy before women realize they’re pregnant. Add the number of induced abortions performed in a year—1.2 million according to the Guttmacher Institute —and we have exactly doubled the rate of total abortions. Since 1973 there have been almost 50 million induced abortions and at least that many natural abortions. That’s 100 million abortions in less than four decades—and that’s just in the United States. All of the natural abortions are a direct act of God, if we suspend reality and entertain a belief in “Him.” However, if we accept the existence of an omnipotent and omniscient god, as many do, then induced abortions are also surely an act of God’s purposeful inaction to intervene and rescue the unborn (not to mention those of us living outside the uterus from fatal tragedies). This leaves me wondering why any rational person would use prayer as a means to end abortion. As it stands, there is a popular movement to do just that and I’m reminded of it each time I pass the large memorial outside St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Savage that reads “Pray to end Abortion.”

I don’t celebrate the aforementioned statistics; in fact I find them to be very concerning. That is why I find the frustratingly counter-productive idea of praying abortion away to be absurd and careless. While I support a woman’s right to choose, I’m positive that most would agree that a reduced abortion rate is a worthy goal. Ironically, those most vocal against abortions (they self-righteously identify themselves as “pro-life”) do the most to obstruct their own cause with ridiculous policy initiatives and ideological visions of a biblical utopia. They ignore thoughtful analysis and effective approaches for hyperbolic rhetoric and inimical policies.

While unwanted teenage pregnancies make up a significant portion of abortions, the Vatican continues its war on prophylactics and the conservative right (led by the likes of Sarah Palin) fight for abstinence-only sex education.  These campaigns are harmful to the “pro-life” cause, but we can’t expect anti-intellectual demagogues to accept overwhelming evidence like the results from a study recently published in Pediatrics which finds teenagers who take a virginity pledge to be just as likely to have sex as those who don’t but less likely to use contraception.
Those who are inclined to replace facts and sensible tactics with futile telepathic petitioning have plenty of support from countless websites dedicated to the “Pray to end Abortion” movement. For example, one can do as squirrel58 at luke181.com and reserve a 20 minute time slot to pray so that “every minute of one entire year is covered in prayer to end abortion” (evidently God needs a lot of persuasion from people like squirrel58 to overcome His complacency).    

The rate of abortion will be preserved as long as ignorance is celebrated and religious rules embraced. Abortion will continue to be entwined with poverty and unwanted pregnancies. Reasonable policies—fashioned to reduce poverty, teach responsible sex education and increase the availability of birth control—will continue to be lambasted as long as “pro-lifers” cling to ecclesiastical rubbish and watch Fox News.

In spite of prayers and biblically influenced initiatives, abortion (natural and induced) continues at a stable rate well over 2 million per year in the United States. Over 3,000 American women will receive an induced abortion today and another 3,000 will receive a natural abortion. Fifty women will have had an abortion during one of those 20 minute prayers advertised at luke181.com . If the so called “pro-lifers” were to accept reality at least as much as they cling to religion they would realize that only humans who foster humanitarian policies can reduce the occurrence of abortions. It’s time to switch the message from “Pray to end Abortion” to “We Need to Abort Prayer.”

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