Women in the United States faced many difficulties before the legalization of abortion. The case of Roe vs. Wade is famous as this case allowed for the legalization of abortion K. Jones & Chaloner, 2007.
Before the legalization of abortion, there were women who still aborted illegally, and all that legalization provided for was a safe environment for the women to perform abortion. Legalization of abortion provided women with a choice in regards to keeping the pregnancy to term or terminating the pregnancy. This choice is and has been a controversial one, which results in many debates for and against abortion. The debates regarding abortion have not favored women as it was earlier thought, since there are women who still cannot access abortion services. Women of color were mostly disadvantaged before abortion was legalized, but the situation did not change after abortion was legalized. Colored women were still discriminated upon when they sought abortion services. There are two prominent groups pro-life and pro-choice. The pro-lifers constantly argue that abortion is equated to killing a human being, but the pro-choice group state that is not the case. The decision to abort or maintain a pregnancy is divisive in terms of politics, ethics, and science. Abortion is an activity that predates any recorded history. It used to be a brutal process that threatened the life of the woman before the advancement of modern medical advances. With the current medical technology, abortion is a safe process that poses no risk to the mother. The pro-life group believes that abortion is immoral based on skewed facts. They only see abortion from one side, and they do not want to offer women a choice. There are many reasons that would result in a woman preferring to terminate a pregnancy. Understanding the underlying reasons is vital in this debate. Focusing only on the morality of the issue denies a pregnant woman the option of choice Fried, 2013.
If abortion becomes illegal, many women will revert to doing it under unsafe conditions, which will defeat the reason behind making abortion illegal.
The government is not obligated to interfere in the choice a person makes in life. Therefore, abortion should remain legal, and women provided with the opportunity to make choices they feel comfortable with in regards to pregnancy. Before the legalization of abortion, women still underwent the procedure and denying them that choice, will definitely result in more fatalities. Women will result to illegal abortions performed by persons with limited equipment and unsafe environments. If abortion becomes illegal, there will be many unwanted pregnancies, which will result in despair and poverty. This is because the women are unable to provide for the children. Economic deprivation is possible since the number of births will increase and the resources required are unavailable. The pro-life groups have not presented any conclusive evidence to support their argument of a fetus being a human being. Therefore, the fetus will not have the same rights as a human being.
Fetuses are not yet human beings
A fetus is not a human being since it cannot survive on its own. The fetus is a clump of cells that have the capability and potential to develop into human being. A fetus is alive just like the other cells found in the woman’s body, but the fetus has not life of its own, it is a part of the woman’s body. It depends on the woman for oxygen, food, and excretion. Until the fetus is born, it will be dependent on the woman for its survival. The fetus is not capable of thinking, feeling, breathing, or performing anything by itself. This indicates that it solely depends on the woman. Therefore, the woman has a right to decide if she is willing to provide and care for the fetus. People who argue that abortion is killing a baby or a human being fail to understand that the fetus will not experience any pain. A human being has the capability to experience pain and suffer. This distinctive difference confirms that a fetus is not a human being. It is misleading to compare a fetus to a human being, misleading, especially considering that a fetus is a group of cells that have not matured.
A majority of abortions will occur during the first or second trimester Joffe, Weitz, & Stacey, 2004.
During these stages, the fetus is not fully developed, and it cannot survive outside the woman’s uterus. An abortion that occurs in the first or second trimester does not hurt the fetus in any way. The fetus is still developing, and it does not have all the body parts. Until the fetus is able to take in its own breath, one cannot consider it a human being. Human beings are able to breathe on their own unless they are suffering from some medical condition. Pregnancy is a well understood even, and it occurs naturally within the woman’s body. The woman determines if they are prepared to carry a pregnancy to term. If not they should have an option to terminate the pregnancy. No woman should carry a pregnancy until term because she got pregnant. The moral obligation placed on the woman is discriminatory as she is been forced to do something she does not want.
The argument for a fetus being a human being or not is dependent on a person’s religious beliefs and perceptions. The legalization of abortion was because of unwanted or unplanned pregnancies. There is no proof that a developing fetus is a human being, but the woman of girl carrying the pregnancy is a human being. The woman has a right on how her body is used, which is why they should have a choice. The argument claiming that a fetus is a being is based on the morality of an individual. The person believes that once conception occurs the fetus becomes a human being automatically and eliminating the fetus is equivalent to murder. This been a moral issue, it is best if it is not legislated by the government. If it should be legislated by the government, then all other moral issues in the health profession should also be legislated.
Women have rights over their bodies
Every person has a constitutional right that allows them to make their own independent decisions. Forcing women to carry a pregnancy for nine months goes against their constitutional right of choice. A woman should not be obligated to carry a pregnancy till term and raise the child if they do not want. Forcing the woman to do this will lead to the child been abused or raised in a non-loving environment. The child would grow with hatred as the mother raised the child with hatred. Women use birth control methods, but there are situations when the methods fail and result in pregnancy. The woman been unprepared to raise a child should be given an option to abort. There are many reasons that would lead a woman to terminate a pregnancy like lack of finances, still in school, unstable relationship, or not prepared. Providing the woman with an option is vital as this allows her to make a choice based on her current position.
Pro-lifers should conduct a comprehensive analysis instead of insisting on the morality of this issue. Research conducted by Avalos (2003)
demonstrates that women consider a lot before deciding to abort. The twenty women who participated in the study had aborted once or twice. The women in the study indicate that they considered their relationships in deciding to abort. This shows that the women were not prepared although they were financially able to cater for the child. Having a stable relationship is vital for the woman. The woman will not raise the child alone, and they would prefer if the child is born in a loving home. Majority of the women who were involved in the study were on the pill or some other form of birth control. This shows they were taking control, and they only got pregnant by mistake. They were not careless, and they were consenting adults who knew what they were doing. The only reason the women opted to have the abortion was mainly based on their current relationship.
states the pro-life group should consider all aspects in their arguments against abortion. The pro-life group argues that women will suffer emotionally and have regrets after the abortion, but considering the women form the study, it is clear that most women do not have any regrets. The pro-lifers state that women suffer from depression after an abortion. There is no evidence to support this claim, and it can easily be refuted using the study results. Failure to analyze the underlying reasons behind an abortion will result in biased arguments. Women are aware of what they want, and given a choice, they would not prefer to raise a child if they are not prepared. If a woman wants to abort, no legal provisions will discourage or hinder her from aborting. It is better if abortion remains legal since it ensures that women can undergo abortions in safe environments.
Abortion is unacceptable in many religious organizations. It is deemed wrong and immoral. Religious organizations have joined in the debate against abortion, and they want the practice eliminated. They do not realize that if this is done it would discriminate against all women and not just women within their religion. A person should not thrust their personal or religious belief unto others. If that happens, then it is wrong and obnoxious. People have a right and free will to decide on whether to bear a child. It is only the woman’s morals that should affect and influence the choice she makes.
Public health improvement
Legalization of abortion led to a gradual decline of complication resulting from illegal abortions. The number of women hospitalized because of complications after an illegal abortion declined. This shows that even when abortion was illegal, women still made a choice in whether to abort or keep a pregnancy. In the public health domain, the legalization of abortion resulted in fewer cases of hospitalization and deaths from illegal abortions. When abortion was illegal, women sought to abort when they were around 13 weeks pregnant. With the legalization of abortion, women prefer to abort when they are eight weeks or earlier. Having an abortion during the earlier stages is much safer and poses less risk to the woman. Yanow, 2013()
Before the legalization of abortion, gynecology and obstetrics training did not include abortion methods and procedures. Since abortion was illegal, training on the safe methods of performing an abortion was not included in the syllabus for the physicians. Physicians were able to learn how to manage the complications associated with abortion Bartlett et al., 2004.
This provided them with the necessary skills and training. With improved training, there was a considerable reduction in abortion related mortality and morbidity. The training also allowed the physicians to develop effective methods of conducting an abortion. Legalization of abortion enabled physicians to share information and conduct research on methods of safer abortion procedures. Currently a woman is less likely to die from a legal abortion due to the training physicians undergo. These trainings are only possible since abortion is legal.
Reduction in the world’s population
It is estimated that 43% of women will have aborted once before they reach 45 years of age. 43 million abortions occur every year according to worldwide estimates. The current population issue would double if these abortions did not occur. The number of natural resources available in the world is limited, and it is vital that people conduct family planning practices, but these practices are not 100% effective. If a woman discovers they have become pregnant and they were not prepared, they should be allowed to terminate the pregnancy. This termination will ensure that the world does not become too over populated. In a strange and twisted way, abortion is beneficial to the world’s population. In assisting to reduce the population, abortion should remain legal, and the opponents need to see the benefits of abortion. Considering the number of abortions that occur every year, one can clearly see that the world’s population would increase tremendously, and this would put a strain on the few resources available. It is vital that humans conserve the few resources, and one way of conserving the resources is through population reduction. The abortions that occur every year ensure that there are fewer children brought into this world.
Pro-life arguments refuted
Pro-life groups have argued that abortion can harm the mother Siegel, 2008.
This is less likely to occur with the advancement in medical technology. The only way a mother is at risk from abortion is if they undergo an illegal abortion. Any abortion conducted by a professional in a hospital environment is safe as a normal surgical procedure. According to Cates, Grimes, & Schulz, 2003()
, any legal abortion is not likely to result in complications or death for the woman. After the legalization of abortion, the amount of complications that women face has been reducing gradually. With continuous training, physicians are now capable of conducting safer abortions that was possible 30 years ago. With the advancement in medical technology, and introduction of abortion training, physicians are now able to perform abortions safely. The argument that the mother’s life is at risk is only applicable if the abortion is conducted by an untrained physician or in unsafe conditions.
Once a woman undergoes an abortion, they might lose their ability to give birth, but this would only happen if the woman faces complications during the abortion and the woman’s uterus was infected. This is a scenario that would only be possible if the physician is untrained or if the abortion is not legal. A woman who is willing and prepared to undergo an abortion will still perform the abortion irrespective of the conditions. It is safer if a woman can abort in a safe environment, instead of forcing her to abort using unsafe methods and conditions.
Another argument regards post-traumatic stress. Pro-life groups have indicated that women will regret their decision after the abortion. This will result in depression and other stress related complications. The effects of abortion on the majority of women are different. The women who chose to abort, do so after careful analysis and consideration. Therefore, the likelihood of them suffering from stress related sicknesses after the abortion are minimal. This argument is presented to discourage women from exercising their choice in regards to abortion. Trying to discourage women by playing on their sensitive nature will discourage some since they do not want to regret later. Avalos (2003)
posits that women feel a sigh of relief after their abortion. The twenty women that participated in the study had no regrets, and they were happier after the abortion. The women indicated that if they had kept the child, their lives would be currently different. The child would have affected their relationships, and work, which would have caused more stress on the women.
From the women’s narratives, the researcher was able to deduce that the women did not suffer from any stress related ailments. This proves that the argument by the pro-life group has no conclusive basis. The women from the study indicated that they were in a much better position relationship wise after the abortion. Their relationships blossomed and some are thinking of having children in the future. If the women had suffered any post-traumatic disorders, they would not consider having children in the future, and their relationships would have failed. From the research, one woman stated that her relationship was affected after the abortion, and it was only because the man was not prepared to accept her choice. Another woman has had two abortions, and in both instances, she came out unscathed physically and emotionally.
Anti-abortion proponents have claimed that women are now using abortion for birth control. They claim that women are not using any other forms of birth control, and when the woman becomes pregnant, they opt for abortion. There are many family planning clinics that advice women on the reliable birth control methods. Whenever a woman visits a clinic and requests for abortion, the physicians recommend the woman to undergo counseling. During the counseling session, the counselors will inform the women that abortion is not a birth control method. When women were asked if they would use abortion for birth control, majority of them responded in the negative. The women who choose abortion have thought of their decision and analyzed their options Soutoul, 1980.
This demonstrates that the women are not using abortion as a birth control method. Logically speaking no woman prefers to undergo abortion, and they only opt for it as a last resort. Claiming that abortion is used for birth control is irresponsive of the pro-lifers. This demonstrates that they will use any argument without any basis to promote their stand. Analyzing the number of women who use birth control methods, it is clear that the women who undergo abortions only do so after their birth control method fails. This is not to mean that the woman use abortion as one of the methods, but rather she aborts after the birth control method she was using failed. The decision for terminating a pregnancy is not an easy one for any woman. They need to make this decision after analyzing all their options and conditions. Assuming that the women are deciding to have abortions before they are pregnant is an idea that no woman can entertain.
Instead of abortion, the women can put their children up for adoption. This viable option would benefit other couples who are struggling to get children. Adoption will be beneficial to both the woman and the couple, and this would not involve any loss of life or risks associated with abortion. This argument is hard to counter, especially analyzing that it is true, and it would be beneficial to other couples or women. The major problem of adoptions is the emotional stigma that the mother will suffer once she puts up her child for adoption. After carrying the pregnancy to term, the woman might develop an emotional bond with her child even before birth and giving up the child would traumatize the mother. Adoption leave a woman feeling empty, and this is why many women do not consider adoption. Another reason against adoption is the woman might not want to have her siblings being raised by other people R.K. Jones, Frohwirth, & Moore, 2008.
Knowing that somewhere out there is child that has her DNA is discouraging for many women, and they would rather have an abortion. It is not that they cannot raise the child, but since they are not prepared, they would rather terminate the pregnancy instead of placing the child for adoption. Human beings are wired differently, and subconsciously the woman will always be aware of the adopted child and wonder how the child was raised.
The option to abort should remain legal, but this should be a last resort. The option to terminate or maintain a pregnancy is a woman’s to decide. The right to choose should not be interfered with due to personal biases. No woman is forced or encouraged to abort, instead they are provided with the option to choose if they want to abort or maintain their pregnancy. The woman will analyze her options before she makes her final decision. If abortions were illegalized, many women would suffer in the hands of people claiming to perform abortions. There would be no regulation and the women would opt to abort using unsafe methods. Illegal abortions are life threatening to the woman, and they could lead to complications. The complications could result in the woman never giving birth. These are avoidable complications, if only abortion remains legal. Criminalizing and establishing harsh punishment for abortion will not assist in reducing abortions if abortions are no longer legal. Women will be desperate to abort, and they will suffer silently if they abort illegally, or they will prefer to face the punishment after the abortion. Therefore, making abortion illegal will have far reaching consequences that could result in more deaths, than saving lives.
Avalos, L.R. (2003). Abortion in the Web of Relationship. International Journal for Human Caring, 7(2).
Bartlett, L.A., Berg, C.J., Shulman, H.B., Zane, S.B., Green, C.A., Whitehead, S., & Atrash, H.K. (2004). Risk factors for legal induced abortion — related mortality in the United States. Obstetrics & gynecology, 103(4), 729-737.
Cates, W., Grimes, D.A., & Schulz, K.F. (2003). The public health impact of legal abortion: 30 years later. Perspectives on sexual and reproductive health, 35(1), 25-28.
Fried, M.G. (2013). Reproductive rights activism in the post-Roe era. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1), 10-14.
Joffe, C.E., Weitz, T.A., & Stacey, C.L. (2004). Uneasy allies: pro-choice physicians, feminist health activists and the struggle for abortion rights. Sociology of health & illness, 26(6), 775-796.
Jones, K., & Chaloner, C. (2007). Ethics of abortion: the arguments for and against. Nursing standard, 21(37), 45-48.
Jones, R.K., Frohwirth, L.F., & Moore, A.M. (2008). “I Would Want to Give My Child, Like, Everything in the World” How Issues of Motherhood Influence Women Who Have Abortions. Journal of Family Issues, 29(1), 79-99.
Manninen, B.A. (2010). Rethinking Roe v. Wade: Defending the abortion right in the face of contemporary opposition. The American Journal of Bioethics, 10(12), 33-46.
Siegel, R.B. (2008). Dignity and the politics of protection: abortion restrictions under Casey/Carhart. The Yale Law Journal, 1694-1800.
Soutoul, J. (1980). Abortion and birth control. La Revue du praticien, 30(57), 4035.
Yanow, S. (2013). It is time to integrate abortion into primary care. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1), 14-16.
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