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OPINION: Roe v. Wade anniversary coming up

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" (Declaration of Independence).

These words, written over 200 years ago, used to be the foundation of what the United States of America stood on. However, millions of American citizens have been denied those very rights.

There was a time when abortion was unthinkable, or at least more of a "fringe activity," and in fact, illegal. On Jan. 22, 1973, the court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton overturned abortion law and for the first time in American history, legalizing abortion on demand at every stage of pregnancy in every state. This month will mark the 39th anniversary of these decisions. Let's examine how these rulings have forever changed the lives of millions of babies, their families, and our nation.

In both cases, Roe and Doe (Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano, respectively) were unaware that they were being manipulated into signing affidavits that they didn't support. At the time, a pregnant Norma McCorvey didn't understand what she was signing -- a challenge to a Texas law that prohibited abortion except to save the life of the mother. She didn't want an abortion but now, abortions would be legal through the second trimester.

With Doe vs. Bolton, Sandra Cano never wanted an abortion either, and didn't realize that she was challenging an anti-abortion law in Georgia. Abortions would be allowed based on health of the mother (not just physical but psychological, mental and emotional) as a reason for third-trimester abortions. The Supreme Court handed down its rulings the same day, forever changing America.

Since those legal decisions, we have seen Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) take the lead in providing abortion on demand. Margaret Sanger, PPFA's founder, known as a leader in eugenics, the science of "improving" the gene pool, by discouraging reproduction by persons having "undesirable" inherited traits, stated in her "Birth Control Review" in October 1921 that "Eugenics is... the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems."

Birth control was born out of the eugenic movement that Sanger so eagerly supported. Sterilization and segregation of certain groups were the eugenics movement's primary birth control tools. When both were made illegal, however, abortion became the mainstay.

PPFA facilities sprung up in urban, mostly minority communities. According to the Guttmacher Institute, black women are five times more likely than white women to have an abortion. Since Roe v. Wade, 10 percent of the white race and 28 percent of the black races have been wiped out. The American population is 12 percent black, but they have 36 percent of all the abortions. By 2008, nearly 14 million black babies had been killed by abortion. In fact, Planned Parenthood's 2010 Annual Report states that 91 percent of the pregnancy services it provides are abortions (329,445 reported), 8.6 percent are prenatal services (31,098), and 0.2 percent are adoption services (841). Over 1 million abortions are performed every year in the United States with 769 of those in South Dakota in 2009. That is a loss of approximately 10½ busloads of children.

In remembrance of the over 50 million aborted babies, Mitchell Area Right to Life will hold a short, public memorial service at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, at Graceland Cemetery. A soup luncheon will follow at the Mitchell Wesleyan Church. All are welcome to attend. Remember a simple phrase from "Horton Hears a Who": "A person's a person no matter how small."

Sonja VanErdewyk, of Mitchell, is president of Mitchell Area Right to Life.