Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
There are many points of view toward abortion; the main two distinctive ones being “pro-choice” and “pro-life”. A pro-choicer would feel that the decision to abort a pregnancy is the mothers and the mothers alone and that the state has no right to interfere. A pro-lifer would argue that from the moment of conception, the embryo or fetus is alive. This life imposes on us a moral obligation to preserve it and that abortion is the same as murder.
About 40 percent of Americans believe that abortion should remain legal and 40 percent believe it should be banned except when the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. 15 percent believe it should be illegal in all cases.
In the United States, about 1.6 million pregnancies end in abortion. Women with incomes under eleven thousand are over three times more likely to abort than those with incomes above twenty-five thousand. Unmarried women are four to five times more likely to abort than married and the abortion rate has doubled for 18 and 19-year-olds. Recently the U.S. rate dropped 6 percent overall but the rate of abortion among girls younger than 15 jumped 18 percent. The rate among minority teens rose from 186 per 1,000 to 189 per 1,000.
Others feel that abortion is a women’s own right and choice. In 1973 the Roe v. Wade decision proved this by recognizing abortion as a fundamental constitutional right and making it legal in all states. The law now permits abortion at the request of the women without any restrictions in the first trimester and some restrictions in the second trimester to protect the women’s health. The National Abortion Right Act League argues that without legal abortion women would be being denied their constitutional right to privacy and liberty. The U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade argued that the women’s “right to privacy” overruled the fetus’s right to life. If abortion was illegal it would force poor women to bear and raise children they are unable to support. There would be a number of illegal and unsafe abortions performed by untrained and uneducated people, including the mothers themselves. Also, most of the illegal procedures to abort fetuses are extremely dangerous, such as the knitting needle strategy. It would also force women to give up their dreams and stay home to bring up babies. Worst of all, it would force victims of rape and incest to give birth to and nurture the offspring of their rapist.
Each day, induced abortions prevent approximately 126,000 infants from being born (Clinical reference systems, 2001); this amounts to 46 million abortions each year worldwide (abortiontv.com), many of which are done in the United States.
My personal feelings on abortion lean towards that of pro-life. I feel that abortions are appropriate only in extreme circumstances and the pro-life arguments against abortion are most reasonable. It seems that the women and girls who are undergoing abortions do it without considering the gravity of their decisions.
To begin with, 95% of abortions performed in the United States are done as birth control rather than for medical reasons. Only 1% are because of rape or incest, 1% because of birth abnormalities, and 3% because of medical risk to the mother (abortiontv.com). These statistics show clearly that abortion has overwhelmingly become accepted and abused as a form of birth control. There are so many other forms of birth control that could be used to prevent the situation from even occurring in the first place; by making abortions so accessible and socially ‘okay’ we have allowed women to dismiss the colossal seriousness of their choices. They are killing their baby. It is simple; if a woman does not want to become pregnant she should make sure that she has only protected sex. It is my opinion that by having unprotected sex, the woman is accepting the possibility of becoming pregnant and therefore, the responsibility of the child which will result.
Many women also are ignorant to the stage of life that their baby is at when they have their abortion. By the time a woman discovers that she may in fact be pregnant, her child’s heart is already beating inside of her. Seven weeks after conception the child has developed legs and arms, and a brain wave can be measured. At ten weeks fingers and genitals can be recognized, as well as facial features if an ultrasound is done. Most abortions are performed between 7-10 weeks, just as all of these features are developing (National Right to Life Committee). There are also serious complications that can occur during and after an abortion, both physical as well as psychologically. According to MD Health, “women who have several abortions using dilation and curettage have an increased risk of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or 2nd-trimester miscarriages.” There are many other complications that can also occur due to an abortion. Perforations of an abdominal organ, infection, excessive bleeding, failure to end a pregnancy, or difficulty becoming pregnant are just a few of these risks. A serious risk of depression is also something to consider. Depression can set in immediately after having an abortion or can appear months afterward. This often makes it very difficult for a mother to “get over” having an abortion.
There are many arguments, however, that state that legalized abortion is a good thing. Planned Parenthood, which is one of the nations leading advocates in the “right to choose” campaign, states that around 80,000 of women’s deaths per year are due to unsafe abortions. They also argue that almost one million women sought out illegal abortions during the years before it was legalized. Planned Parenthood believes in making “every child a wanted child,” thus implying that by making abortions illegal there would be many children out there who were unwanted children. It has also been stated that anti-abortion laws discriminate against low-income women because of the idea that if women cannot legally obtain in the area that she lives in then they must travel to a different region to obtain it. Low-income women could not potentially afford this.
One incident that did help change some views on abortion (for medical reasons) was that of Sherri Finkbine. Finkbine used thalidomide, a tranquilizer, which was later discovered to cause severe birth deformities in unborn children, such as things similar to seal flippers, twisted legs, short thighs, and no ears. She appeared before courts but was denied permission to have an abortion. Consequently, she was forced to travel to Sweden to obtain one. It was later revealed that her baby was indeed badly deformed. (Tribe, 1990) Planned Parenthood and other agencies are also against other acts such as CCPA (Child Custody Protection Act), this act would make it illegal to travel across state lines with a minor so that she could obtain an abortion. They believe laws like this would increase already high teen pregnancy rates. In fact, 40% of girls who are currently 14 years old will become pregnant before they are 20 years old (Planned Parenthood). They argue that a young girl should not be forced to go through the trials and tribulations of childbirth and motherhood.
In 1981 the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings asking the question, “When does human life begin?” Dr. Jerome Lejuene (also known as the father of modern genetics) stated that, “Each human being is unique from the moment of conception.” This tells us that from the moment of conception, the fetus is a distinctly unique human being, and therefore has a constitutional right to life. “By all criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception,” says Dr. Hymie Gordon of the Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic. (Pro-life America). So by having an abortion, a woman is taking the life of her child, which should be considered murder but is not by many simply because the infant has not yet been born.
There are alternatives to abortion. Never should the killing of another human being be accepted, regardless of age, race, gender, or any other class. Just think, 46 million infants are killed each year due to abortions. Throughout the entire holocaust, only 5.6 million Jews were killed (The Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh). This means that for every Jew which was murdered during the Holocaust, nine unborn children are every year (abortiontv.com). Something to think about, huh? There are other options There are many alternatives to having an abortion. It is possible to give birth to and care for a child, even if the pregnancy is unplanned. There are nearly 3,000 Crisis Pregnancy Centers throughout the US which are staffed by volunteers who are ready to help women facing unplanned and untimely pregnancies. Not only do these centers provide pregnancy tests and counseling, they also help women obtain housing, both maternity and baby clothing, baby equipment, pre- and post-natal medical care, legal assistance, financial support, information about adoption, and even advice on how a woman can continue her education during and after the birth of her child (National right to life committee). Or, if the mother does not want to keep the child, she could give it up for adoption and allow somebody else who is unable to have a baby themselves to experience the joys of loving and raising a child.
As you can see…
Although abortion is appropriate in some circumstances, it is a right that is grossly abused as a form of birth control, rather than for the purpose for which it was intended, which is to relieve those who may need it in case of rape, incest, and medical dangers to both the child and the mother. Although I am pro-life, I have a lot of arguments against abortion in modern society, but I do not feel, however, that abortions should be made illegal, I think that the option should be available for those who truly need it. But if abortions remain legal for the population in mass, I think they should be limited only to the first trimester of pregnancy, when the child is still in early development, except for in extreme circumstances.