After Roe v. Wade, something amazing happened. New organizations, care centers, adoption services, and support networks for pregnant mothers popped up all across the country. There’s a powerful lesson here about the corrosive effect of law.
Whatever you feel about the morality and legality of abortion, more help for women with unwanted pregnancies is a good thing. Today, there is a vast network of privately funded crisis pregnancy centers, counseling, even housing and food for mothers who fear retribution because of their pregnancy. What’s startling is how recent this support network is. Why did it take the Supreme Court ruling that abortion was legal before all of these alternative services became so widely available? Because often those who feel most strongly about their beliefs are the first to do nothing once the state gets involved.
Surely unwanted pregnancies too place before the Roe decision. Abortions also took place. With greater medical and personal risk, and fewer places to turn to talk over the situation. As long abortion was illegal, those who wanted mothers to choose not to abort, or even just to have someone with them during the pregnancy, did very little to help. Instead of offering comfort and assistance to those in a tough spot, courts and cops were relied on to prevent and punish.
There is a serious moral decay that comes with law. When the state says you can’t do drugs, drink alcohol, gamble, pay for sex, eat unhealthy foods, or engage in any other activity commonly deemed dangerous or immoral, the very people who worry most about those activities largely give up on trying to help those who engage in them. Whether or not any of those things are bad, without freedom to choose, people’s preferences and often their struggles are pushed under the rug, into the back alleys, and out of the public consciousness. The problems that can arise are no less acute, but the availability of help and alternatives vanish.
Even if you think abortion should be illegal, the fact that almost none of the crisis care, counseling, and adoption services available today existed when it was ought to give you pause. Where else are you failing to live up to your own moral standards, but instead letting the clumsy coercion of law do the work for you?