Abortion is a very controversial topic in today’s society. It is defined as the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy. Nowadays, there are many reasons why a woman may choose to terminate her pregnancy. Reasons that are common, but not limited to the following include: inadequate finances to support a baby, parents not being ready for the responsibility that comes with motherhood, teenage pregnancy, health problems with either the mother or the unborn baby, or pregnancy caused by rape. In third world countries, a woman may terminate a baby if it is a girl, because society is man-based.
There are many reasons that abortion is chosen. The issue of abortion relates to Women and Gender Studies 100 because “the fact is that women have been trapped. Reproduction is used, consciously or not, as a means to control women, to limit their options and to make them subordinate to men. ” (Dr. Nafis Sadik, UN Population Fund). Control over reproduction is a basic need and a basic right for all women. The issue of abortion is an on-going debate. Pro-choice groups believe that a woman should have access to whatever health care she needs and that she should have control over her own body.
Pro-life groups believe that the embryo or fetus is “alive” and thus abortion is the same as murder. Pro-choice groups support feminism more suitably because they’re idea is that “a woman must have her freedom; the fundamental freedom of choosing whether or not she shall be a mother and how many children she will have. Regardless of what man’s attitude may be, that problem is hers; and before it can be his, it is hers alone” (Margaret Sanger). Any female has the choice to choose whether she wants to reproduce or not. If there are certain circumstances where abortion is the better choice, then she is able to make that decision on her own.
No person has the right to intervene. Margaret Sanger also said “no woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother. ” (Sanger). This is a very powerful quote because it is the fundamental idea of all of the issues of abortion. Patriarchy is another issue. Patriarchy and abortion go hand in hand in many third world countries. The selective abortion of female fetuses is most common in areas where cultural norms value male children over female children.
A son is often preferred as an “asset” since he can earn and support the family; a daughter is a “liability” since she will be married off to another family, and so will not contribute financially to her parents. The patriarchal structure of a society is the single most important factor affecting the sex ratio in favor of males, emphasized in some cultures by the burden of raising a dowry for a daughter’s marriage. Sex-selective abortion is a fact of life in India, where the gender ratio has declined to as low as 1,000 boys to 300 girls in some cities. (Paul Tuns, Female Gendercide).
Sons are traditionally viewed as the main breadwinners in their families. They also continue the family name and help to perform the last rites ceremonies of the parents, an important ritual in many faiths. In China, the state-enforced “one child” policy to try to avoid over population has brought about a huge distortion in gender ratio. If you can only have one kid, parents choose to abort girls and wait for a boy, so that their family name can be passed on. In practice, a “woman’s right to choose” turns out to mean the right to choose not to have any women.
These two examples show that abortion is just another way of supporting patriarchy. In these two cases, the woman who had the abortion had no benefit. Man-dominated society is the only beneficiary. Abortion raises significant scientific, legal, religious, and ethical issues as well. This supports the idea of the state, science and the church working together to oppress women. The understanding of life and death, the definition of a human person, the rights of the mother and the fetus, and the impact of new scientific discoveries on reproduction are all examples of science and religious issues.
Cultural beliefs affect one’s opinion on abortion because they may believe that the Bible says that abortion is not right. The Bible declares that God values all human life and that He wants all people to come to repentance to inherit eternal life. The Bible also explains that the entire life of a human, from the beginning to its natural end, is sacred, since God determines the length of those days. Certain scientific and technological discoveries, including stem cell research, cloning, and artificial reproduction have also complicated the abortion issue.
The status of the fetus is probably the most controversial issue: Is the fetus a person with the same rights as those who are born? Some argue that the embryo from the moment of conception has the same rights as a person. Others argue that the early embryo is human life but not a human person. These questions are all science related, and cause people to be confused on the issue. The state is not as harsh on women when it comes to abortion. Laws have been put in place to help women decide whether or not they will have an abortion if it is needed.
Many countries have their own laws on abortion and whether it is legal or not; there is no universal law on abortion. In many countries the law varies depending on the specific situation of the mother. Early in Canadian history, all abortions were illegal. The movement to liberalize Canada’s abortion laws began in the 1960s. In 1969, the Canadian Parliament passed a law that allowed abortion in certain circumstances to protect the health of the mother. Abortion was then legal as long as a committee of doctors signed off that it was necessary for the physical or mental well-being of the mother.
Polls continue to show that a majority of Canadians believe abortion should remain legal. In the United States, Roe v. Wade was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under a clause in the constitution extends to a woman’s decision to have an abortion, but that right must be balanced against the state’s two legitimate interests for regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting the woman’s health.
When it all comes down to it, abortion is still based on a woman’s decision on her reproduction. There are endless questions whether it is morally correct to “kill” a fetus, but the main idea is that women are being oppressed. Control over reproduction is a basic need and a basic right for all women. As women, our bodies have become a pawn in the struggles among states, religions, science, and male heads of households. Women ultimately have the right to choose what happens to their body, and this is held by the law.
Society tries to oppress us, and challenge the power that we have over our bodies. In the future, I hope to see more women choosing abortion solely to benefit themselves. For people of India, China, or other countries that have sex-selective abortion, I hope that one day it will not be more beneficial to have a boy rather than a girl. Even if it is not in my lifetime, the world needs to come to equilibrium between genders. Especially the fact that men, and society is trying to say that women can’t even control what happens to their own bodies.