What Happens When Abortion Is Banned?

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love but to use violence to get what they want.” ― St. Teresa of Calcutta

Recently two authors at the publication The Wire set out to answer the question, “What happens when abortion is banned?”

Given that Nita Bhalla and Anastasia Moloney are virulently pro-abortion, you won’t be surprised to find out that their answer is that whenever abortion is banned, a laundry list of horrible things happen. You also probably won’t be surprised that Bhalla and Moloney’s article completely ignores the single most important fact in the matter, i.e., the existence of the preborn child.

The biological reality is that every single abortion results in a dead child. Note that this isn’t a moral claim. It’s simply a statement of fact. The preborn child in his or her mother’s womb is a genetically distinct, living organism that belongs to the species Homo sapiens. No biologist worth their salt would deny this. By the time the abortion is over, this genetically distinct, living human being is dead.

However, nowhere in their article do Bhalla and Moloney even mention this. Instead, they take it for granted that abortion is just a perfectly ordinary, inconsequential medical procedure that some nations have arbitrarily and cruelly banned for no good reason. Thus, any hardship or difficulty that arises because abortion is illegal is, to their minds, an inexcusable travesty.

However, the picture radically changes the minute you take seriously the fact that abortion ends the life of a preborn child.

What Happens When Abortion Is Banned?

What Really Happens…

With this fact in mind, what really happens when abortion is banned is that some of the most vulnerable human beings on the planet are treated with the equality that they deserve, with their human rights respected and protected in law.

What really happens when abortion is banned is that abortion rates plummet, and countless preborn children are given the opportunity to live their lives without being arbitrarily and summarily slaughtered against their will.



What really happens when abortion is banned is that these children go on to change the world in ways that no other human being could have done. Many of them in turn go on to welcome children of their own, producing untold generations that would never have been born if governments had pretended that abortion is just any other medical procedure.

What really happens when abortion is banned is that countless women are spared the grief and regret of making the worst decision of their lives, and instead are given the opportunity to find the inner strength to cultivate the love and courage that will enable them to welcome their child into the world.

What really happens is that men are challenged to live up to their God-given role as protectors and providers, and to treat the women in their lives with the care and respect that they deserve. Not all men will rise to the challenge, but with the “easy out” of legal abortion removed from the picture, more will step up to the plate, rather than give into the temptation towards cowardice.

What really happens is that a nation’s laws, social structures, and norms begin to reshape themselves in innumerable ways to protect preborn human life: sexuality is treated more often with the awe that it deserves; family structures are strengthened; charities to support women in difficult pregnancies are created, etc., etc.

What really happens is that a nation takes one giant step towards instantiating the “civilization of life and love” about which Pope St. John Paul II wrote so movingly in Evangelium vitae. And it takes one giant step away from what that sainted pope described as the “state of barbarism which one hoped had been left behind forever” (no. 14), but which so many nations have perversely embraced in the name of “progress.”

What really happens is that the heart of Jesus Christ leaps for joy, as He sees us, His disciples, treating “the least of these” with the love that He commanded us to show to the weak, the vulnerable, the marginalized, and the oppressed.


Pro-abortion Lies 

This is not to say that making abortion illegal doesn’t lead to some difficulties for some people. There is no doubt that it does. However, regardless of these situations, direct abortion – that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means – is an intrinsically evil act that can never be morally right.

In Sollicitudo rei socialis, Pope St. John Paul II speaks about a world that is marred by the consequences of original sin, seeing “social sins” as the collective behavior of certain groups, large or small, or even of nations and blocs of nations that proceed from the accumulation of personal sins: “a question of a moral evil, the fruit of many sins which lead to ‘structures of sin’” (no. 37). Since the source of “social sin” or “structures of sin” is personal sin – “concrete acts of individuals who introduce these structures, consolidate them and make them difficult to remove”– the solution to the transformation of society, rests with our personal actions, our growth in holiness and virtue. In other words, we must change ourselves. Otherwise, these “structures of sin” will “grow stronger, spread, and become the source of other sins, and so influence people’s behavior” (no. 36).

It would be wonderful if every newly conceived child were greeted with the joy that is the only appropriate response to the magnificence of every human life. However, there are cases – for instance, women who are living in severe poverty, or in seriously abusive relationships – in which getting an abortion can seem appealing, as the “easy way out.”

Of course, once one understands and takes seriously the reality of the humanity of the preborn child no number of real difficulties can possibly justify resorting to abortion, the direct killing of an innocent child. On one side of the ledger is the life of a human being with inherent dignity that must be treated with the respect due to a human person. On the other side are various difficulties that may, temporarily, be exacerbated by the birth of that child.

In no other case do we permit the direct killing of an innocent human being to solve our problems. Thus, the only appropriate response to such circumstances, is to put all our ingenuity and resources into finding creative solutions to the difficulties.

Indeed, one of the many positive consequences of making abortion illegal, is that it forces a society to prioritize the effort to find real solutions to real problems. Solutions that don’t involve murder.

We are already seeing this effect right here in the United States. In the months since Roe was overturned, there has been a welcome explosion in conversation about how best to help women in unplanned pregnancies. A few weeks ago, for instance, I told you about a statement that I signed, calling for reasonable measures to help couples welcome life without fear. “Building a Post-Roe Future” was signed by hundreds of pro-life leaders. It calls for such things as affordable prenatal and postnatal healthcare, expanded child tax credits, paid parental leave, and the enforcement of child support laws.

Meanwhile, Americans United for Life, one of the largest pro-life organizations in the United States, has put together a whitepaper advocating for politicians to “Make Birth Free.” That policy has received enthusiastic support from numerous other pro-life organizations, leaders, and politicians, and has a reasonable chance of receiving bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, we live in a nation in which contraceptives and abortion are often covered by health insurance, while childbirth often costs thousands of dollars out of pocket, even for those with private health insurance. For those who lack private health insurance, the costs of childbirth can be devastating, particularly if anything goes wrong during the birth, or if the child suffers from any serious health condition. Taking the fear out of pregnancy and childbirth is one way to tilt the incentives back towards life!

Meanwhile, pro-life activists around the country have been organizing large conferences to brainstorm other ways to incentivize life in a post-Roe situation. Over the past few decades, pro-lifers have built thousands of pro-life pregnancy centers around the country and funded them with millions of our own dollars. But there is a sense now that, having successfully overturned Roe, there is a more urgent need than ever before to ensure that no woman ever has to feel that she must have her preborn child killed in order to avoid some catastrophic outcome. I feel a sense of optimism, that with abortion taken off the table, we will find new ways to support and encourage a Culture of Life in our laws, regulations, and spending priorities.

This is what making abortion illegal does: it focuses the attention of a nation to search for creative and life-affirming solutions to difficult problems. Keeping abortion legal, however, signals to every deadbeat dad and lazy anti-life politician that they don’t have to do any hard work. Rather than finding solutions to poverty or abuse, they can simply point women towards the abortion clinic, to avail themselves of the one “solution” that has done more to subjugate women to the desires and neglect of men than anything else.

As St. Teresa of Calcutta said:

The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the dependent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners (National Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C, February 1994).


Reformed Abortion Advocate Exposes the Truth

Inevitably, one of the pillars of Bhalla’s and Moloney’s “argument” is that even if countries decide to ban abortion, women will get abortions anyway. But the abortions they will get will be “unsafe,” leading to widespread injury and death.

This is one of the oldest canards in the pro-abortion playbook. However, we know that it’s based on lies.  We know this in part because one of the most prominent pro-abortion propagandists of the past told us precisely how shamelessly he and his colleagues lied about illegal abortions, in order to win the sympathy of the public to their cause.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson was one of the founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), and personally performed thousands of abortions. However, he underwent a dramatic change of heart in the 1970s and became a powerful and effective pro-life advocate.

His inside knowledge of the pro-abortion movement was invaluable for casting light on the lies that are at the very foundation of the pro-abortion cause. One lie had to do with the number of illegal abortions in the United States. As he writes here, the real number was around 100,000 per year, but he and the other activists at NARAL routinely told the media that it was over 1,000,000 – more than ten times the real number! They also massively overexaggerated the number of women dying from illegal abortions per year. While he said there were about 200 to 250 per year (in reality, it was probably even less than that) he would tell the media that there were over 10,000 such deaths every year!

“I confess that I knew the figures were totally false,” he wrote, “and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the ‘morality’ of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics? The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible.”

The past few months since the overturning of Roe have shown just how false this pro-abortion story is. It’s not true that once abortion is illegal, women will just get abortions anyway. Many women who might have gotten an abortion, will instead choose life. In states where abortion is now illegal, thanks to the overturning of Roe, abortion rates have plummeted. Yes, it is true that some women in those states are simply travelling to nearby states, where abortion is legal, to get an abortion.

However, it is clear that abortion rates are dropping. Thousands of lives have been saved already. If the U.S. continues its movement towards life, our pro-life laws could result in millions of lives being saved.

Pro-abortion activists like Bhalla and Moloney don’t give a moment’s thought to the preborn child. But we know that there are children alive, today, because the U.S. Supreme Court did the right thing, and reversed Roe. Real children, with real lives: smiling, laughing, running around, making friends, developing hopes and dreams for the future, bringing sunshine and laughter into the lives of their parents and siblings. The world is better for their existence.

That is what happens when abortion is made illegal.

As president of Human Life International, Fr. Boquet is a leading expert on the international pro-life and family movement, having journeyed to nearly 90 countries on pro-life missions over the last decade. Father Boquet works with pro-life and family leaders in 116 counties that partner with HLI to proclaim and advance the Gospel of Life. Read his full bio here.

Did you find this useful?


  1. Martha Kremer on March 21, 2023 at 1:32 PM

    Yes, abortions are still being done. Very sad.

  2. Margaret Duarte on March 20, 2023 at 10:05 PM

    Hello Fr,
    I’m against abortion. But, I’m concerned, will Md’s still be trained to help women if something horrible happens during their pregnancy. If a pregnant women was in a car accident, would there be a trained MD, to help her?
    Also, I don’t understand why president Biden, can still take communion. It’s not right. I wish Pope Francis, would deny him this, as he is so pro abortion.
    I hope you are well. Easter is coming! I will pray for you.
    Margaret Duarte

  3. Ann on March 20, 2023 at 6:29 PM

    Police just found a semi truck with parts from 13,000 babies that were aborted
    They happened to come. Across it because of the smell

  4. Anne Chapman on March 20, 2023 at 5:34 PM


Leave a Comment