Last year, I fell out of a tree. To save some measure of self-respect, I won’t share the details of why I was in the tree in the first place, but suffice it to say, hitting the ground was one of the most painful experiences of my life.
Thinking I had just knocked the wind out of myself, I lay on the ground for several minutes, attempting to catch my breath and recover. I then carefully got up and walked home. An hour or so later, I was at a local restaurant with my wife and some friends and realized I could no longer walk and could barely breathe. So we headed to the emergency room.
The first thing the ER doctor did was X-ray my chest. He suspected I had cracked and bruised ribs and wanted to make sure that no vital organs were punctured and that I wasn’t bleeding internally. Once the doctor ruled out anything life-threatening, he told me the news: I had indeed broken some ribs, and there was basically nothing I could do about it, other than rest and take pain medication. For the next six weeks, that’s exactly what I did.
Looking back, I was struck by the efficiency and speed of the triage process in the ER room. Although the doctor attended to me quickly, I could tell the receptionist was prioritizing patients as they came in the door. The most serious injuries were treated first. When I was seen, the doctor went through a very careful and predetermined process to make sure my life was not in any way threatened, and then he proceeded to inform me about the details of my condition and prescribe what help he could.
This may seem like common sense to you, but the experience reminded me how much Americans value our lives. Our entire healthcare system is set up to treat the direst situations first so that human life is protected. During my long recovery, I spent much time thinking about and studying the numerous “systems” that are in place to keep us from harm and premature death.
The Systems That Protect Lives
While we often think of systems as mechanical or technological, humans also organize themselves into systems to achieve certain ends. Transportation systems, financial systems, and certainly healthcare systems involve complex interactions between people, physical structures, technology, and data.
Of particular interest to me is the appropriate attention given in America to systems designed to protect human life. It is remarkable just how much time, energy, and resources are dedicated to keeping us safe through various rescue systems. Consider a few very visible rescue systems: fire stations, police forces, the US military, medical emergency rooms, ambulance services, and disaster relief agencies such as FEMA. US taxpayers spend billions upon billions of dollars to support these types of life-rescuing systems. Fully staffed hospitals, ambulatory services, twenty-four-hour ERs, and telemedicine services are all high-technology systems that are physically located in strategic locations and run by competent individuals to deliver care in a quick and organized fashion. And, of course, property and casualty insurance, life insurance, and major medical health insurance exist to protect us from financial disaster.
Other systems designed to protect our lives are so ingrained in our culture that we rarely give them a second thought. The traffic light, for instance, exists to maintain order in an otherwise chaotic intersection. And entire traffic systems (lights, signs, road construction, traffic monitoring, and so on) work in harmony to protect us when we drive on roads. Add to the list water treatment services, food and drug regulation, building codes and enforcement, and home security systems. America is replete with industries, companies, services, and systems designed to protect our lives from accident, disaster, and death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the two leading causes of death in America are heart disease and cancer. Together, they kill over a million Americans a year. And we pay heavily for continued research and treatment in order to preserve and rescue our loved ones and ourselves from these lethal conditions. In fact, Americans spend billions of dollars in heart disease and cancer research and treatment each year—an enormous investment in a rescue system designed to protect us and cure us of those diseases.
We invest heavily in these systems because we value human life above all other concerns. Lately, however, I’ve been preoccupied by the fact that our robust rescue systems come to a full stop in the face of the most gruesome, high-casualty undertaking in America: abortion.
A Discriminatory Rescue System
Knowing the extent to which America invests in rescue systems designed to keep us alive and well, it is painfully ironic that Americans have left the preborn and their mothers to languish. We can say with certainty that children in the womb make up the most under-served group of people in the nation. Not only is there no city-wide or national rescue system to keep this population from harm and death, but there is a government-sanctioned, multi-billion-dollar system in place to kill them by the hundreds of thousands.
The most victimized group of people in America comprises preborn children—in particular, those children who are, at some point during gestation, unwanted by their mothers or by other parties who pressure or force their mothers to abort. Roughly a quarter of this population is killed each year in America, accounting for about a million deaths, or one out of every three deaths nationwide.
How is it possible that “wanted” preborn children, along with all other American population groups, have access to abundant rescue systems, yet “unwanted” preborn children have no such access? And how do we as a nation accept that this same population is legally targeted by a multi-billion-dollar abortion industry?
The kingpin of the abortion industry, Planned Parenthood, is a $1.5B behemoth that killed 328,384 preborn children in the most recent year reported. Planned Parenthood carries out a third of all abortions in the nation. Though the exact revenue of the abortion industry is unknown, one can reasonably estimate a total of at least $4B.
Human Coalition tallied the budgets of pro-life organization in the U.S. and found that, combined, they total around $700M. In fact, the pro-life movement has never sustained a single group whose annual budget exceeded $10M. The arresting reality is that Planned Parenthood alone maintains more than twice the annual budget of the entire pro-life movement.
The majority of small pro-life organizations are called “pregnancy centers,” or “pregnancy resource centers,” or “pregnancy medical clinics.” There are more than 2,500 of these small nonprofits across the country, but they typically do not see Planned Parenthood’s clients. They do not have the budgets, access to technology, or political power to reach the mothers of our most at-risk children.
In other words, there is not yet a national rescue system for the most vulnerable, at-risk population in the United States. There is no sizable system that is equipped to compete with the multi-billion-dollar industry, led by Planned Parenthood, that is wreaking the destruction.
All parties recognize that current federal law and various state laws permit the slaughter of preborn children. It is fatally ironic, however, that the key determinant in valuing human life in the womb is simply whether or not some other person wants that life to exist. No other group of persons in America is victimized by such blatant, narcissistic discrimination. As a free society, we would not abide a parent killing a toddler because the child was no longer wanted. On the contrary, we would immediately rescue such a toddler if we learned that such a risk to his or her life existed, Indeed, there are child welfare rescue systems in place equipped to intervene in such a scenario.
The solution to abortion is twofold. First, America needs to immediately do away with the discriminatory system of death that is the abortion industry. Second, America requires a national rescue system for all preborn children.
The Need for a New Rescue System
Americans universally agree that rescue systems for “wanted” preborn children are necessary. Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) are a fixture across hospital systems in the United States. We will exhaust every resource, every dollar, every specialist, every option to intervene in and rescue the life of an at-risk child born prematurely.
The schizophrenia in our collective rescue systems is that the same child, at the same level of development, can be issued a violent death sentence and brought to a medical facility for execution if a parent simply designates the child as “unwanted.” By our own logic, all lives at risk of death should have access to a rescue system. But we will ourselves to forget this deeply held principle the moment the word abortion is uttered.
Abortion. In a nation of rescue systems, that word commands cognitive dissonance at best and willful malevolence at worst. It’s the glaring exception to our codified justice system and our highly structured rescue system. Future generations will no doubt look back on the paradox of large-scale abortion in our otherwise peaceful, prosperous nation and try to analyze how it was possible for us to function as a stable society while our children were butchered en masse in sterile medical facilities day after day.
The first step to relegating that gruesome reality to the ash heap of history is implementing a national rescue system for the would-be victims of abortion, the leading cause of death in America. Like any rescue system, it identifies the causes leading to death and addresses them. In this case, we know that pregnant women seek abortion because they believe they have no other choice.
Rescuing preborn children means entering into the chaos of that situation with a woman. It means creating support systems and quarterbacking the resources she needs. It means walking with her long past her decision to reject abortion—to stand by her through the pregnancy and long after the birth. To address the needs of her family, housing situation, employment, and any unique circumstances she is in. This is not easy. It has taken Human Coalition ten years of research and practice to identify abortion-seeking women and successfully bring them into a system of care where they are empowered to reject the abortion they were seeking.
Rescuing preborn children also requires the larger framework of the pro-life movement—the support structure that makes the rescue system viable long-term. Legal groups work toward pro-life laws; activist groups rally grassroots support; educational initiatives shift public opinion. For the first time in the history of legal abortion in America, an infrastructure is in place to take the pro-life movement across the finish line. Yet the sheer size and power difference between the pro-life movement and the abortion industry calls out to the inaction of the quiet, tacit pro-life American majority. The question of how long it will take for David to topple Goliath is one that will be determined by the strength of their response.
Brian Fisher is the President of Human Coalition, a technology-driven nonprofit working to make abortion unthinkable and unavailable in our lifetime.