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Abortion History in the U.S.- Article 5

This is a continuation of the series of articles to take a wider view of abortion. The previous articles can be found here. This article will explore the history of abortion in the US through Roe V. Wade. In order to be accurate, in addition to facts, direct quotes are used that are rather disturbing. It is not our intent to offend but rather to be accurate. We hope that these articles help you understand the national history of abortion in a deeper way, and help you become a compassionate ambassador for life in your sphere of influence.

Prior to Roe V. Wade

When the U.S. first became a nation, most states adopted the English common law that restricted abortion after “fetal quickening” (when a baby’s movement can be felt). When Britain passed a law banning all abortions in 1803, many U.S. states began to develop their own legislation regarding abortion. In the mid-1800’s, the newly formed American Medical Association (the AMA) began a campaign to create legislation making abortion illegal in all cases except when a woman’s life was at risk. By 1880, every state in the United States had criminal abortion laws – with exceptions built in to allow the procedure in order to ‘save a woman’s life.’ Like any law, it was broken. In general, prosecution was limited to abortion providers that became public because of accidents that led to the death of the woman during the procedure.

At the time of the landmark case of Roe V. Wade, abortion was still a state’s issue. It varied from state-to-state being basically outlawed in 30 of the states and restricted to varying degrees in the rest. For example in Texas, the state where Roe V. Wade originated from, the law stated that abortion was only legal “to save the life of the mother.” While Georgia’s 1876 law permitted abortion in the case of rape, birth defects, or if the health of the mother was threatened. There were other forces at play in the national abortion scene.

Margaret Sanger

circa 1915: Studio headshot portrait of Margaret Sanger (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Much has been written about Margaret Sanger, and there is not enough space here for a full examination. At the very least, her impact on America’s abortion situation is historical. In the late 1910’s, she began to write about sex, birth control, and eugenics profusely. Through her writings, speeches, and organizations, she eventually inserted herself as the central figure in birth control, “population control”, and founded Planned Parenthood. Her writings were and are still controversial, if not disturbing. Many today still view her the way she portrayed herself, a champion of women’s liberation. The keystone to this “liberation” was the limiting or absence of children.

However, Sanger’s motivations were not purely for “liberation.” She espoused ideas that are considered eugenic, racist, and very radical. In her 1932 speech “My Way to Peace,” Sanger laid out her plan to forcibly sterilize 15-20 million Americans (about 12-15% of the total population) to prevent what deemed to be undesirable pregnancies. In a private letter from 1939 regarding the “Negro Project”, she wrote:

“The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” The bolded portion was cited in the recent public debate in North Carolina.

In studying Margaret Sanger in her own words and actions, it does not take long to find someone with radical ideas of population control measures, directed by a ruling class, that have “solutions” rooted in the killing of millions. Since her death in 1966, many have taken up her causes and Planned Parenthood has grown into the largest abortion provider in the U.S.

Roe V. Wade

Two of those to take Sangers’ “cause” were attorneys Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee. In 1970, the two began looking for a way to challenge the 100+ year old Texas abortion law. When they were connected with Linda McCorvey, they found their test case and successfully got a three-judge panel to declare it as unconstitutional (without stating why). Eventually the case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court where it was argued for over a year.

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court handed down a 7-2 decision in favor of Roe (McCorvey), a new precedent was set, and the U.S. government was prevented from stopping abortion. The key decision was based on the ideas that the “right to privacy” includes a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy and that a fetus is not a person in the same sense intended by the Constitution. Many law scholars have found the decision and reasoning incredible, if not wholly unique.

In the next article, we will look at the effects of this decision in law and practice as well as current abortion trends in the U.S. Needless to say, the impact of legal, extensive abortion on demand and the rise of a lucrative abortion industry have been devastating and heartbreaking.

Further reading:

Compelling Interest: The Real Story behind Roe v. Wade by Roger Resler. EC Publishing Group, 2012.

A Dark Past by Jonah Goldberg. National Review, 2008.  https://www.nationalreview.com/2008/06/dark-past-jonah-goldberg/

Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist. Why are we still celebrating her? by John J. Conley. America: The Jesuit Review, 2017. https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2017/11/27/margaret-sanger-was-eugenicist-why-are-we-still-celebrating-her

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Abortion in Indiana

Article 4, Abortion in Indiana

This past fall, we began a series of articles to take a wider view of abortion. We talked about what abortion really is and the ethical implications of it. The first three articles can be found here: https://lifecenters.com/life-centers-blog/. In this article, we want to talk about abortion in Indiana. We hope that these articles help you understand what is happening in a deeper way, and help you become a compassionate ambassador for life in your sphere of influence.

The Laws

 Indiana often gets poor grades by groups that believe abortion restrictions are a violation of rights. Because of this, some people may believe that it is extremely limited by the law. The Indiana law actually allows for abortions anytime during pregnancy at certain medical facilities (ex. Eskenazi Hospital and Methodist Hospital) “based upon the professional, medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s physician.” While the statute does provide a framework that medical professionals must adhere to, the fact is that abortions after the fetal age of viability (defined as 20 weeks up to birth) do happen annually in Indiana at acute care hospitals.

The majority of abortions in Indiana occur not in hospitals, but in clinics. These free  standing clinics have physician staff, but are not acute care hospitals, and are limited to first trimester (13 weeks) abortions. These abortions are legal for any reason as long as the woman is 18 years of age and gives consent, or if under 18 with parental consent.


The Trends and Numbers

The latest official numbers on abortion are from 2018 (they usually are published mid-year). In 2018, there were 8,037 abortions in Indiana, an increase over the previous 3 years. One thing to note is that this number probably does not capture all of the Indiana residents who had abortions. Illinois has some of the most progressive abortion laws and we hear that many women from Indiana seek out later abortions by simply crossing the state line. Of the 8,037 abortions, 98% of them were first trimester abortions in free standing clinics. Of these clinics, the location at 86th and Georgetown in Indianapolis is the most prolific, performing 35% to 50% of the abortions that occur in our state. Roughly half of all the first trimester abortions in Indiana are now via medication induced abortion.

How Life Centers Impacts

There is good news in the midst of all of these sad numbers. Life Centers is making an impact on lives – one, two, and whole families at a time. Last year, we saw 7,579 women and babies and were a part of 1,810 births. Volunteers at Life Centers contributed more than 17,000 hours to be part of many stories of changed lives and new life in our clients. Life Centers has put a renewed focus on developing relationships with our clients through support services (diapers, clothing, toys, wipes, baby furniture, etc.), client classes, abortion recovery, and a lot of other expressions of love and compassion. Because of that, many women are choosing to visit and refer others to us rather than the abortion clinics. This shift in traffic has caused many of these local abortion clinics to close over the last five years. Wouldn’t it be great if all of the abortion clinics in Indiana had to close simply because women chose not to get abortions?

Life Centers is not involved in political movements or the legal process. Our focus is ministry and care for those who are facing pregnancy-related decisions with hope that they choose life. If you want to get involved in helping to show love and compassion that saves lives, visit our volunteer page. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. 

(Photo of Life Centers clients)

References for further reading:



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Article 3: The Ethics of Abortion, Part 2

This is a continuation of a series of articles. All previous articles can be found on our website in the blog section.

Again, our intent is not to condemn or wound those who have been part of an abortion (please see our post-abortive recovery program, SOAR). We want to spur thought and conversation that empowers you to interact with those around you in a thoughtful way.​

Rights vs. What is Right
Whenever someone mentions the word “ethics,” there is usually not an enthusiastic response, perhaps there is even a yawn, but understanding ethics is vital to all of us. Ethics are the moral principles that govern our behavior. The reason we are talking about ethics before laws and trends regarding abortion, is that the clarification of ethics helps us rightly understand these laws and trends. Laws flow from our ethics, but often it can get reversed in the rhetoric surrounding abortion. When those who are pro-choice talk about their rights, they may imply both a legal standing and moral one, but can their moral standing hold up? Let’s look at some common arguments for abortion and see if there are weaknesses.

Law vs. Ethics
First, we must acknowledge that current law in the United States gives someone the legal right to proceed with an abortion. What we need to understand is that a legal justification (a legal right) does not equal a moral rightness. Certainly, everyone in the US can think of past laws that were immoral. Laws that discriminated against minorities and women, stripping away their humanity were immoral even when they were legal. It should also be pointed out that the law itself is inconsistent. If a pregnant woman is killed, the suspect can be charged with a double homicide. So, we know that legality is not the ultimate test for morality.

Personhood is an idea used only when we want to deny someone their humanity. The pro-choice argument of when someone is or is not a person is used to differentiate a child in the womb from one outside the womb. We covered these differences in the previous article, but there should also be something said about the general idea of personhood. Whenever personhood has been tied to anything more restrictive than a human being, it has always had a sinister purpose. To call someone less than a person is to deny them rights that should be afforded everyone. Sadly, it is not a new tactic even if the language has changed. In the US, it was used against Native Americans and African-Americans for many atrocities. History is full of many more examples. We must understand that the only purpose for denying someone personhood is to assert control over them that is not for their benefit.

My Body, My Choice
The argument that, “No one should have a right to tell me what I can and can’t do with my body” is a common refrain for pro-choice advocates. One big problem is that it is not an absolute. In the law for example, there are statutes regarding prostitution, drug use, and the selling of one’s own organs. Those are all legal statutes that do not show an absolute autonomy for one’s body. In fact, it is hard to think of many crimes in which someone does not use their body in some way. So, claiming autonomy because it involves your body does not hold up (try not having your body show up for jury duty and using body autonomy as a legal argument). Granted, while people do have the moral standing to choose medical care for themselves, we would not allow them to choose harm or kill someone else. A conjoined twin sharing vital organs cannot choose to end both of their lives. The root of the ‘my body, my choice’ is again to deny or diminish the humanity of the baby in utero and thus give the mother the ability to end its life.

There is an argument that it is “inhumane to give birth to an unwanted child.” There are two major problems with this reasoning: the premise isn’t true and the argument isn’t valid. First, any child born in the US today is wanted by someone. It is estimated that there are about 2 million couples in the US waiting to adopt. Even children with special needs have multiple families willing to adopt. Much of the “unwanted” rhetoric comes from the number of older children in the foster care system, which is a separate moral issue. Any baby born in the US is certainly not without a home that desires them. Secondly, the whole issue of “wanted” or “unwanted” should have no standing in the right to life of a human being. Just because one does not want someone, does not give them a right to end their life, and it is never more humane to kill someone because they might possibly suffer in the future.

The next article will move on from ethics to what is happening in our society today. There are new movements, technologies, and laws that most people who are pro-life don’t even know about.

What did we miss? If you think we missed something or made a misstep, please send us an email.


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Article 2: The Ethics of Abortion, Part 1

As we continue our series on abortion, we do want to remind our readers of the purpose of this series. Life Centers is not an “advocacy group,” we are a ministry whose mission is to save babies and transform the lives of their mothers and fathers. While we are trying to spur a discussion that we believe needs to happen, we do not intend to condemn or further wound those who have been a part of an abortion. One of our ministry focuses is helping individuals heal after being involved in an abortion. We do this through our post-abortive recovery ministry (SOAR).


Frequency plays a part in discussions about specific ethical issues. If something does not happen often, the urgency of examining the ethics of the uncommon situation is diminished. Perhaps to avoid looking at abortion through an ethical lens, people say that it is “rare.” However, when you look at the number of abortions worldwide, it is anything but rare. According to the most reliable source of abortion statistics, The Guttmacher Institute, abortions have increased to an astounding 56 million per year worldwide. We repeat – 56 million induced abortions every year. To help put that number into perspective, the World Health Organization says that the total number of people that die annually (of all causes) is 56.9 millionHumanity has chosen to intentionally end life in the womb at the same rate as all forms of disease, sickness, accidents, homicides, and wars – combined. Even if the Guttmacher institute is not perfect, the number one killer of humans is abortion. It is not rare, it is becoming more frequent.

Not the Same

One of the most common reasons given for justifying abortion, is that “what” is being killed is not a person. This reasoning can be dangerous because there are many instances in history where stripping away humanity is used to justify acts that should not be accepted. Rather than dismiss it, let’s examine this argument closer to see if it has merit.

How Embryos are Different S.L.E.D.

We must start on the common ground that a two-year-old child is not someone who should be killed because they are not a person. That should be easy to agree upon. So, are the differences between a two-year-old and an embryo enough to change that? Many people would say, “Yes.” Scott Klusendorf, a bioethicist, uses the acronym S.L.E.D. to represent the four categories of difference: Size, Level of Development, Environment, and Degree of Dependency. 


We once were all very small embryos. It is often said, “Something that small can’t be a human.” We would never argue that a 5ft tall, 110lb person is a lesser person and therefore has less of a right to live than a 7ft tall, 300lb person. So clearly, size should not be the determining factor.

Level of Development

Embryos are less developed than 20-year-olds, but so are two-year-olds. We would not kill a two-year-old just because they have not developed the same way an older person has. So clearly, level of development should not be the determining factor.


Should embryos not be considered human because of their location – the womb? The difference between many babies aborted and those protected under law, is a journey of 8 inches down the birth canal. When you walk out of your house, does that change your humanity? Is someone in Africa less of a person than someone in Europe (a different location)? The answer of course is, “No.” So clearly, environment should not be the determining factor.

Degree of Dependency

“A fetus can’t survive on its own.” If you left a two-year-old alone for 3 days, would he or she survive? Most modern adults could not survive a week in the wilderness without modern technology. Does that mean that the two-year-old who is dependent upon adults to feed and care for them, or the adult who can’t survive in the wilderness are not human and don’t have a right to life? No. So clearly, degree of dependency should not be the determining factor.

Think about all of the reasons you have heard that a fetus is not a person, a human, or deserving of life. They all fit into these categories.

​To be continued…

There are other pro-abortion arguments and ethical considerations that we will address in two weeks in part two of “The Ethics of Abortion.” We are not using the Bible when presenting this philosophical discussion of abortion because we want you to engage with those around you, including those who reject Scripture but will listen to reason. One does not have to be a Christian to be pro-life. We need non-Christians, as well as Christians, to stem the tide of 56 million abortions every year.  

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have questions/comments, please email them to Brian Current.

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What is Abortion? Article 1

What is Abortion?

To begin any discussion, there must be a common understanding of what is being discussed. The purpose of this article in the series (Series Introduction Here) is to help create that understanding and possibly help educate the reader. This article is not intended to wound anyone, but the subject matter is very heavy.

A Working Definition

If you were to look up a definition of abortion, you may come across the phrase “loss of a pregnancy …” without reference to the reasons why that pregnancy was lost. That is because natural rejections or miscarriages are sometimes referred to as “spontaneous abortions.” For the purpose of our articles and all of the information we will present, we will not be referring to these, but rather exclusively to “induced abortions.” An induced abortion is an intentional act aimed at the destruction of a human life at any point between fertilization and birth. So when we say “abortion,” this is what we are referring to.


Limiting the Focus for Now

There are two other things to consider before you read, “What is an abortion?” that we will not discuss in this article: abortifacients and therapeutic abortions. Among the induced abortions, there is a difference between therapeutic abortions (ectopic pregnancies, maternal cancer, maternal heart disease, other health of the mother issues) and “convenience” abortions (eugenic and “family planning”). Abortifacients, a drug that causes an abortion, commonly called “the Morning After Pill” or the Plan-B pill, can “work” after conception and before implantation – which would fit our working definition of abortion. We will talk about these issues in our next article, “The Ethics of Abortion.” For now, we’ll discuss different procedures for an abortion, which are commonly agreed upon.


There are two major types of induced abortion used in the US today: surgical and medication induced.

There are many types of induced surgical abortions, but the majority of them performed in the first trimester involve strong suction. If a surgical abortion is done during the second trimester, additional steps may be necessary to section the baby before removing via suction. In third trimester abortions, similar steps are taken, but the baby is removed by instruments or by hand. Surgical abortions are done at abortion facilities and in some hospitals. Much of the political debate has been around the standard of care that a facility must meet in order to perform these procedures.
Medication induced abortions are done with a medication called RU-486 (mifepristone). Mifepristone works by prohibiting the synthesis and functionality of progesterone, a hormone that is necessary to sustain early pregnancy. When the role of progesterone is compromised, the uterus contracts, the endometrium becomes hostile to the implanted embryo, and the cervix softens to allow expulsion. Most commonly this is followed up with a dose of misoprostol that is used to induce or expel the baby. Currently, there is political discussion in the US around reducing the restrictions and expanding the availability of medication induced abortions.

More Info

Much more detail could be given on the abortion procedures, but we are limiting ourselves for these articles. Descriptions that are more detailed can be found here: https://abort73.com/abortion/abortion_techniques/
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Our hearts break every time we think about the loss of life because of abortion, and all that we ask is that you do not turn away. We will continue the series of articles in two weeks. “The Ethics of Abortion” will be released on October 24th. If you have any questions or comments, please email me.

– Brian Current, Life Centers’ Director of Community Partnerships

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