Imagine an 18 year old girl in her first semester of college, working full time to pay her tuition. Imagine her finding out she was pregnant, and realizing she does not have the resources to care for a child or herself if she went through with the pregnancy. What options does she have? Dealing with the issue of weighing the importance of fetal life versus women’s rights, the topic of abortion can have no right way to deal with the issue, but only an ultimatum that must be made in order to decide how to handle the situation safely and fairly.
For those in favor of legalizing abortion, a women deserves to have the choice in what happens to her body, because she is the one holding true responsibility for the pregnancy and birth if she decides to go to full term. For those in favor of criminalizing abortion, a fetus should be given the opportunity to live, despite what the mother wants.
Steps other than abortion should be taken if the child is not wanted. In the document titled “Abortion Is a Women’s Health Issue and Should Be a Constitutional Right”, M. Lee and Nancy Sprague state, “The decision about whether or not to have an abortion is one that should be left up a woman herself, since she alone bears the complex impact of pregnancy and childbearing”. Giving women the choices and resources needed to make decisions about their own body and educating them early on is crucial in giving women equal rights and the opportunity to live a life they can succeed in.
Stated by Alex K. Rich and Geraldine Wagner, in “Abortion: An Overview”, abortion is the act of removing a fetus from the uterus of a pregnant woman prior to completing a full term of the pregnancy. While the reasons behind why abortions occur vary for every woman and can be extremely different depending on the circumstances, the morality of abortion has come to question many times throughout history, as people try to decide whether the unborn fetus or the woman carrying it deserves more rights in the situation. After the legalization of abortion in the beginning stages of the pregnancy in the court case Roe v. Wade in 1973, the Court outlined the standards for abortion legalization, stating,
In the first trimester, the decision must be left to the woman and her physician; after the first trimester and prior to viability (which the Court put at 24 to 28 weeks), the states could regulate, but only in the interest of the safety of the pregnant woman; after viability, the states could regulate to protect the fetus, but only if they did not interfere with the woman’s health (qtd. in Glendon 19).
As the matter stands, the Court’s position on abortion at the current moment is fair and provides support to women who go through unwanted pregnancy. Because the woman is the one holding the true weight of the situation, as it affects her body and mental state alone, she must be the only one given rights to deciding how to solve the issue, not anyone else, whether it be the father, or a government attempting to regulate the matter.
In the case that abortion was not legalized and became criminalizing, the safety and health of women would be in immediate risk. According to Lee, statistics clearly show that when abortions become illegal and inaccessible, women will inevitably turn to other unsafe solutions to ending unwanted pregnancies, rather than completing the pregnancy full term.
Women will seek unprofessional and unsanitary forms of abortions or completing other forms of self-induced miscarriages, risking their lives in order to end the pregnancy. Also informing. “When this happens, the potential complications are numerous and frightening: they include inflammation, infection, hemorrhage, kidney failure, infertility, and an increased tendency toward future miscarriages” (Lee 2). According to research, before abortion was legalized in the United States, hundreds of thousands of women went through with illegal abortions every year; 78,000 resulting in death out of the 20 million occurring worldwide (Lee 2).
The topic of abortion is real and extremely important to learn about and deal with not only because it deals with women’s health and safety, but also morality and values and coming together to find a common solution to something that has been debated for decades.
While everyone can have their own opinion on the topic of abortion, and can absolutely decide not to go through with it themselves or not support it personally, it is completely different to take away the opportunity for someone else in need because it does not fit one’s own standards. By forcing others to live by one set of rules that only stands by a small group’s values, an unfair and unequal position is put onto anyone affected. Instead, we should be working to merge ideas from multiple points of views on the issue and taking ideas that will form one solution that benefits everyone.
What seems more probable is that the line of decisions extending from and expanding Roe will be pruned and reshaped to achieve a better balance between the rights of pregnant women and the protection of developing life. Rather than overruling Roe outright, the justices may simply broaden the category of abortion-related issues that can be thrashed out in the give-and-take of the legislative process.
In summary, laws should be set in place to be built off of Roe v. Wade in efforts to make the topic of abortion more fair and understandable, rather than completely getting rid of the case and trying to start new. By proposing small efforts towards the case in order to make it more current and efficient, it will be easier to negotiate and decide what will work for everyone.
The only true way to resolve and prevent issues such as this from occurring is to educate people on the effects of their decisions and actions and giving them the supplies they need to stay safe. Instead of shaming and criminalizing women for becoming pregnant and seeking abortions, giving their child up for adoption, or keeping the child even without the resources needed to support a child, we should we providing sex education and resources such as birth control and other forms of contraceptives that will prevent issues like these from ever happening.
M. Lee states in her article, “Point: Abortion Is a Women’s Health Issue and Should Be a Constitutional Right”, “Given that a mere 60 percent of all pregnancies worldwide are planned, a far more effective approach would be to educate women about family planning and increase the availability of contraception. In fact, there is data that supports a clear correlation between better access to birth control and a lower abortion rate” (Lee 2)
In personal experience, I have found that the sex education system is extremely flawed and does little to nothing to inform teens on the effects of their actions. In my high school, sex education was not taught until the second semester of our senior year, where we only learned the anatomy aspects, instead of how to handle situations like pregnancy. We were never told where we could go for support, or how to take care of ourselves, or what not to do. Because of this, many in my school probably went through something like this, and had no idea what to do or who to go to.
Birth control in itself is an issue in today’s society, as companies founded to help women find medication for this are defunded, protested, and put in danger constantly. Because birth control has many uses besides the obvious, such as regulating menstruation, reducing menstrual pains, leveling hormones, and other medical issues besides preventing pregnancy, allowing easy access to birth control is crucial and important in giving women the support they need to live a healthy life.
Society today has formed a stigma on those who use birth control, shaping them to seem selfish or shameful, when in reality, they are only trying to take care of themselves. Stated by Leslie Armour, of “The Ethics of Abortion: Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Choice”, “The issue is not whether abortion is wrong but whether society should make a woman’s decisions for her” (Armour 82). While, in similarity to the issue of abortion, people can disagree with it and decide not to use it for themselves, it is not their decision whether other’s can use it.
Another issue that comes into question regarding steps to be taken if abortion is not supported, is what to do to support the child when it is born. Those against abortion are all for supporting the life of the fetus and giving it a chance to live until it is born and need support, whether it be because they are placed in the corrupt adoption system or living with the mother who cannot support them.
Stated by Medoff in Pro-Choice Versus Pro-Life: The Relationship between State Abortion Policy and Child Well-Being in the United States, “The empirical evidence finds that states with the most anti-abortion policies are also the same states that have significantly lower indicators of infant/child well-being. This supports the contention by pro-choice supporters that efforts by pro-life supporters to protect the life of the fetus end at birth”. And with this, another level of complications arises as we decide whether our support for a fetus’s life ends at birth, or if we will continue to support them, even as they struggle in a poor home, or a corrupt adoption center.
The debate between those in favor of abortion and those against it is steep. “Most center on the basic principles; life should be protected and individuals should be free from interference with their bodies. One side asks if fetuses are really living persons; the other if pregnancy is really an invasion against which women are entitled to respond” (Armour 82). One of the main arguments in the case against abortion is that the fetus should be given a right to life as much as anyone else.
The issue stands that at the point of conception, the fetus is considered a living being and should be treated as such, safe from being aborted or put in any danger, despite how the mother feels. For those who are against abortion, the rights of the fetus are considered more important than the feelings and health of the mother, “Every person has a right to life. So the fetus has a right to life. No doubt the mother has a right to decide what shall happen in and to her body; everyone would grant that. But surely a person’s right to life is stronger and more stringent than the mother’s right to decide what happens in and to her body, and outweighs it” (McDonagh 134).
Despite how the pregnancy might affect her physically, mentally, socially, economically, etc., the pregnancy should be completed to full term because it is her mistake and responsibility to handle it. Many feel that it is a woman’s responsibility to have children and provide for others, whether she wants to or not, if she is able to, because so many are not. Boonin states on page 133 of Defense of Abortion, “A woman who carries a pregnancy to term is like a person who generously offers at some considerable cost to herself to provide what another needs but does not have the right to, while a woman who declines to carry a pregnancy to term is like a person who declines to offer such assistance”.
Another issue that comes to question in the debate of supporting abortion is whether the woman is doing it for just reason or simply for herself. While it is common sense that the woman should have the right to decide what happens to her body no matter the circumstances, many question how they feel about abortion depending on the situation.
If the woman is getting an abortion because of conception from an attack or because of medical reasons, then it may be considered socially acceptable more than if she was getting it because she was not financially stable or simply did not want a child. But, according to a 2004 study, “92 percent of women who had abortions, cited “social” or “other” reasons, rather than medical reasons or sexual assault, as the primary basis for their abortions. These social reasons included such things as the timing being wrong for having a child; not being able to afford caring for a baby; having relationship problems with the father; or not feeling mature or secure enough to raise a child” (Congleton 1).
Overall, the debate of abortion is a complex and difficult one to decide. Deciding how one feels on the topic can depend on the situation, circumstances, and people involved, which makes figuring out a solution all the more confusing. When a situation involves so many complex circumstances, settings, types of people, and influences, it is nearly impossible to come to a conclusion that will support every woman in making the right decision for not only her life, but the life of the fetus if she decides to have the child. Because this topic deals with the impending life of a child unborn, many have harsh and strong feelings, and will go to great lengths to defend them, resulting in fights, anger, protests, danger, and conflict.
This is why the issue of abortion comes to mind so quickly when one thinks of a weighing topic on our society, not only in the past, but the present more than ever. The only true solution to this issue is being compassionate and understanding to different circumstances and realizing that one set of rules will never be able to support an entire group of people who live very different lives.