The mere mention of the word abortion seems to cause raising of eyebrows and turning of heads. Theologians and politicians alike have presented this phenomenon negatively. Since time immemorial, the human race has tried incessantly to deny it. This leads us to reflect on why, despite society’s abhorrence of abortion, that it still is being practiced. If there are no benefits, how is it that a large percentage of women still choose to do so? It is true that abortion is now legal. However, some states still have the power to dictate the degree they would or would not permit abortion (Critchlow, 1996). Where is the freedom in that? Let us take a different look at abortion. The best way to do this is to start from the top.
In the United States, abortion laws began to appear in the 1820’s these laws forbade abortion after the fourth month of gestation. Because of physicians, the American Medical Association, and law makers, most abortions in the US had been outlawed by 1900(Critchlow, Donald T,1996). Illegal abortions were still frequent, though they became less frequent during the reign of the Comstock Law (Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles for Immoral Use) which essentially banned birth control information and devices (Garrow, 1998).
History shows us that there have always been two sides to this story, the “Pro Life” group and the “Pro Choice” group. Having a choice in making a life changing decision is not a luxury but every human beings right. Hillary Clinton once said “Being pro-choice is trusting the individual to make the right decision for herself and her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any regard”. (About.com, http://womenshistory.about.com/cs/quotes/a/qu_h_clinton.htm) The Row vs. Wade case in 1973 became an eye opener for the judicial body and for individuals alike. In this case attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, filed a case in Texas on behalf of Norma L. McCorvey (“Jane Roe”). McCorvey claimed her pregnancy was the result of rape. Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, represented the State of Texas. The court issued its decision on January 22, 1973, with a 7 to 2 majority voting to strike down Texas abortion laws Hull, (Hoffer, 2001).
With this case came the realization that the judicial stand on abortion has a very big questionable stance. Victims of crimes that lead to unwanted pregnancies are now given a little more breathing room for the healing process to begin without having to deal with the red tape of the government’s unclear standpoint on abortion.
Novelist – philosopher Ayn Rand, the creator of the philosophy of objectivism, believed that anti-abortionist aimed to go against the freedom of one to think and decide and not to love and protect the embryo. Rand stated that she directly saw hatred from women that stood against abortion. Hatred towards human beings, a level of hatred that directed itself on the human mind, its ability to love, succeed, reason and value the life they are living. She sees it as not being true to one’s self and denying one human the right to choose.(Ayn Rand.Capitalism Magazine.,
People, society should first of all learn and understand the situation before passing judgement on the issue. Are we merely trying to shun the underlying problem? Our world was built on religion and animistic beliefs and though denied by the common man it still runs strongly in the veins of a big part of our world. There is nothing wrong with having a moral and value system. There is also nothing wrong in believing that there is/are higher beings beyond that our minds can conceive. However, the error in this would be the inability to open our mind to the future. We have to learn as time goes by. Our world is not like the world of the past. It has grown tremendously and is obvious inn so many aspects of or world. Then why is it that once in a while topics such as this tend to turn back the clock and bring us back to the medieval belief system. Where human rights were not important and society hid behind the mask of moral and good while in truth people maliciously opted to hide their true vendettas in life. Are we going to let our future turn back that way? Unless the government, pro-life advocates learn to open their minds. We will end up right where we started. A world of chaos and a world were rights are not the priority of the judicial system. It my have taken hundreds of thousands of years for this to have come about but it should have started somewhere.
In the past people of great minds already understood the need and importance of abortions. The quality of life has always been an important aspect that neither, pro life advocates and politically powered people can deny. Then why does the human norm favour raising an abundance of children, beyond the means of parental support that would somehow add to the poverty level and family problems (due to lack of income, lack of knowledge, child deformations/retardations) over the right to choose a better life for the woman, the family and the embryo. Aristotle says (Chapple,2005) “The legislator who fixes the amount of property should also fix the number of children, for if they are too many for the property, the law must be broken.” And he proceeds to advise “As to the exposure and rearing of children, let there be a law that no deformed child shall live, but where there are too many. When couples have children in excess and the state of feeling is adverse to the exposure of offspring, let abortion be procured.”
The United States abortion statistic showed a total 48,589,993 reported abortions from 1973 to 2006. This graph shows the undeniable increase and the stabilization and commonality of abortions done. (The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2003)
Reported abortions in the United States, by year 1973 – 2006
Let us consider the rest of the statistics that are not reported due to fear of being incriminated for it, or the lack of knowledge towards it. How many of these women have died? How many could have been saved if people and legislators would open their minds towards the choices being made by human beings. Pro life advocates keep entailing the idea that the embryo should be given the chance to live for the mere verity of it being alive, but what about the mother, the rest of the family? Is there no say in this for them? Shouldn’t they also consider their lives.
Have you ever thought about the reasons for women choosing to have abortions? According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Perspective on Sexual & Reproductive Health, Sept. 2005 (The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2003)
· 74% say having a baby would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities.
· 73% say they cannot afford to have a child.
· 48% say they do not want to be a single parent, or have relationship problems with husband or partner.
· Less than 2% say they became pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
These women still show realistic reasons for their choices. There decisions have affected there lives tremendously and have, in most pro choice women’s opinions, benefited them in ways that have enhanced their lives instead of brought them down. (Staggenborg, 1994).
Dr. Richard Parker wrote an essay in the Capitalism Magazine about his view on abortion he stated. (Parker, 2002) “The anti abortionists ideals fail to recognize that the proper way of viewing the status of the mother and the fetus should be as an individual (mother) with a dependent entity that is merely attached to the provider. The relationship is not of two different individuals. Therefore something that is attached/ dependent on the mother has no rights. It should metaphysically be viewed as part of the body such as a kidney, spleen or mole. What Dr. Parker was trying to point out, was that if this would be the case a doctor should be considered a murderer for removing a healthy kidney from a humans body for transplant.”
He pushed to argue that it was the lack of medical know how that led the initial anti abortionist theories to prevail. Should they consider abortion in this manner they would loose their grounds for debate. The understanding of the human body adds to the understanding totality of why it is still being practiced.
Pro-choice simply means the political and/or ethical view that the woman having the abortion should have the right to have access to sexual education, a safe and legal abortion, contraception, fertility treatments, and protection from forced abortions.
Pro-choice activists often oppose legislative measures to stop the increasing knowledge of people about abortion. This is the deprivation of the rights to knowledge, rights that are clearly covered by our constitution. On the issue of abortion, pro-choice campaigners are opposed by pro-life campaigners who argue that the central issue is a completely different set of rights. The pro-life view considers human fetuses and embryos to have the full legal rights of a human being. It somehow is loosing sight of the reality of the scenario.
Preventing legalization of abortion to all degrees merely adds to the risk of women and teens, since it increases the amount of illegal abortions done in areas and by people that are unfit, thus causing a higher risk of problems and fatalities.
On several occasions pro-life advocates point the finger directly at abortion. There are several other aspects that are given a smaller partition of attention. However, it still contributes highly to the numbers on abortion. In Associated Press a paper titled “Legal Status Doesn’t Deter Abortion” written by the papers medical writer Maria Cheng on October 7, 2007. Cheng quoted Sharon Camp, president and chief executive officer of the Guttmacher Institute, when she wrote “The only way to decrease unsafe abortion is to increase contraception”(Cheng, 2007) .
Continuing on Cheng explained that “the study defined unsafe abortions as those performed either by people lacking the necessary skills or did not conform to minimum medical standards. Improving women’s health, experts said, means improving access to safe abortions.” The realization that the legalization of abortion with no restraint, is the only way of protecting our women from a far worse fate.
With the opening of mind and the relaxing of our so called reality towards the previous norm of life and the possibility of tomorrows reality, more and more people are coming to realize that having such a close mind about these situations not only cause political and ethical confusion, but also private heartache and anxiety. Our world is continually evolving not only matter wise but also with the way society perceives ideals.
After the Roe V. Wade case, there has been no one to defend abortion in the moral and fundamental sense. Therefore the pro abortion groups are forced to get on the defensive side of the debate.
Pro abortion advocates should not see the common statement of “pro life” as there time to cede. It is a woman’s right to her life that gives her the right to terminate her pregnancy. Alike, abortion-rights advocates should stop hiding behind the phrase “a woman’s right to choose.” Does she have the right to choose murder? That’s what abortion would be, if the fetus were a person.
“The embryo in the first trimester is the basic issue that has never been resolved. The embryo is clearly pre-human and it is religion and mystical beliefs that call it human.”(Peikoff, 2003)
According to Leonard Peikoff (Peikoff, 2003) in his article “Abortion Rights are Pro-Life” he stated this strong viewpoint that brings some meaning to the confusion most people have on this:
“We must not confuse potentiality with actuality. An embryo is a potential human being. It can, granted the woman’s choice, develop into an infant. But what it actually is during the first trimester is a mass of relatively undifferentiated cells that exist as a part of a woman’s body. If we consider what it is rather than what it might become, we must acknowledge that the embryo under three months is something far more primitive than a frog or a fish. To compare it to an infant is ludicrous. If we are to accept the equation of the potential with the actual and call the embryo an “unborn child,” we could, with equal logic, call any adult an “undead corpse” and bury him alive or vivisect him for the instruction of medical students.”
This paper would like to focus on the effect this study may have on its readers. The adding of information for those that lack the understanding to comprehend what pro-choice means, for those that are uninformed about the reality of the situation and most importantly for the youth and women that are caught within situations that draw them to believe the misleading and inaccurate information that my come their way. Human rights are undeniably what holds peace and order in this world. If at one point or another we close our eyes to it and limit its scope of responsibility, it just goes to show that we are not entirely a free nation. People are given the freedom to choose, then why is it that other people tend to hinder decisions and cause emotional warfare’s that cause a lot of pain and devastating consequences. We all have different perspectives on life, but it is our freedom to choose that puts us all on level ground.
Being pro-choice does not mean that the writer is not pro-life. It is as a matter of fact that most pro-choice advocates are pro-life. The only difference between pro-choice advocates and pro-life advocates would be whose life they are more concerned about, that of the mother or the fetus. Pro-choice advocates believe that any woman deserves to have the right to choose whether to continue on with their pregnancy or to forfeit it and to let their decisions better their lives. Pro-life advocates should stop pointing out the pro’s and con’s of the situation and come down to the very essence of the situation, that individual rights should never be denied no matter what the sex, age, gender and most importantly the decision. Let society take pride in the strengths of these women and their ability to make rational judgements under such stressful situations.
May society one day learn to stop condemning such powerful will powers to go past what the rest of the world thinks and to make decisions that strengthen their lives relation ship and in specific cases empower a wounded soul. Decisions like these are in all its sense a private matter but in so many areas the topic a human being can be subject to such a public level of humiliation, thus the increase in unreported, dangerous abortions. Why does society force these women to cause harm upon themselves simply because parts of our society would rather close their minds and open their mouths, instead of giving these women what they really need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and a non judgemental mind to lead them or guide them to make the decision they feel would be best for them.
It is the openness of the mid that people should learn to master. Let it not be in the sense of understanding only a part but the whole. Understanding the physical facts of the matter without bringing judgement will bring pro-life advocates closer to understanding why a great percentage of women still believe in abortion and practice their freedom to choose.
In conclusion pro choice advocates and their stand on this debate should not be maligned since there are very strong viewpoints and facts that support the claims. Morality should not be thrown at this topic not because to lack of conscience but because the morality and norm of our world is still only dictated by man. The writers this paper has referenced from have very strong beliefs in a different outlook on abortion. The amount of unreported statistics should be highly considered and thought upon by lawmakers and those that do have the power to voice out the reality of the situation. It should never be a one side reality. The greater good of human life should still be the first priority for us all.
Chapple, W. (2005). The Fertility of the Unfit. London: McMillan.
Cheng, M.(October 11, 2007).Legal status does not deter abortion. AP Magazine, 10-11.
Garrow, David J. (1998). Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade.
GRAPH Source: The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Perspective on Sexual & Reproductive Health, Sept. 2005
Hoffer, P. (2001). Roe v. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History.
Hull, N.E.H. (2004). The Abortion Rights Controversy in America: A Legal Reader.
Mohr, James C. (1979). Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, 1800–1900.
Parker, R. (2002). A Physician Comments on Abortion and the Morning After Pill. http://capmag.com/article.asp?ID=2160
Peikoff, L. (2003).Abortion Rights are Pro life. Capitalism magazine
Rosenthal, E. (2007). Legal or not, abortion rates compare. New York Times
Rubin, Eva R. ed. (1994). The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History.
Staggenborg, Suzanne (1994). The Pro-Choice Movement: Organization and Activism in the Abortion Conflict.
Warner, J (2007).Poisonous choices, Women at Risk. New York times