Abortion Laws in America

The debate over the choice to have an abortion and the timeline used to say when in a pregnancy abortion should be allowed is one that has caused much societal divide. There are varying views that state from the moment of conception this being possesses a soul and thus should be considered human. There are also those who suggest that these beings are not actually human until they are completely formed or “whole”. A third group and the one that I choose to side with is that a woman has the right to their body and that they should have the ability to have an abortion in cases where they see fit or when it is deemed medically necessary. I believe that abortion should be up to each individual woman to decide if it best suits their individual needs.

The problem with abortion is there are many that hold the opinion that abortion is never justified and in my opinion that is absurd. I believe that every woman should have the ability or at the least the possibility of her choice in aborting an unwanted child as she will be the one responsible for this creation not the law or even those in society that feel abortion is wrong. Therefore, she herself should dictate her choices and not others. This responsibility is not something that should be taken lightly as there are many needs of not only the mother but the fetus itself once it is born. The parent must be able to care nurture and provide for this individual for a very long time and the mother should be able to determine is she has the capabilities of doing do.

When we look at life and the ability to be “human” we must view the mother as paramount and allow this life which is “whole” to be kept in its healthiest sense which is often not viewed by outside parties. If any of these circumstances were to present themselves by the pregnancy and birth of a child then in my opinion abortion should not only be justifiable but in some cases mandatory. The woman should have the utmost control over her body especially when negative consequences are at stake.

Another area of inconsistency that would have to be considered here is that we all have certain constitutional rights and the freedom of choice gives each of us the power over our choices. These rights are not restricted to certain individuals nor should they be. In this way a woman should be given choices in her healthcare and personal well being and undergoing abortion would definitely qualify here. There are certain aspects of our constitutional freedoms that would be lost such as the right of choice if abortions were not able to be performed.

There are also other times when a female would choose to have an abortion and I feel that should be her choice. This often occurs in young teenage girls and although I feel there are much safer methods of birth control than abortion young girls often do not have their own lives on track and thus should not be raising children of their own. Another instance where an abortion would be a critical decision is in the case of a rape or violent crime which ends up in a pregnancy as there are issues that can come from this that could dramatically impact the life of the pregnant woman. In this instance even the president of the United States agrees which was addressed in as saying that funding should not be used for abortions except in the case of a rape or violent crime or when the woman’s life is in danger (Annas, 2010). Finally and maybe most importantly would be when there is health issues of the unborn fetus as some of these issues could be extremely debilitating. There are variations of issues to discuss when we look at a topic such as abortion that should these should be considered before anyone takes away a woman’s ability to choose abortion

The opposition to the issue of abortion has a myriad of opinions as well starting from the basic notion that women do not use contraceptive devices because of the wide availability of abortions. This is one of those areas where the pro-lifers stick to firm ground because they believe that woman use abortion as a means to an end instead of careful planning and use of alternative methods of birth control or even abstinence in general. They also conclude that these other devices are safer and much more effective then the expectation of abortion as a preventative device.

Another argument used by those strictly against abortion is that there should be a national referendum on the topic of abortion so that the people as a whole can decide. This comes from the way of the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortions which states “since the majority rule is a democracy there should be a national referendum on abortion so that the people can decide” (3). This referendum would allow for the majority to decide on this sensitive issue and could possibly give more power to those who are of the anti-abortion stance. A national referendum could be used by anti-abortionists as a way to take control and give the power to the majority thus giving benefit to those who are against abortion.

Those against adoption also take the stance that instead of abortion woman should choose to have their baby and offer it for adoption instead. This indeed is a viable alternative and the opposition does present many reasons for why abortion is the best suited plan of action when a child is not wanted at a particular time. Adoption they believe is the best alternative because it not only allows the baby to thrive and grow, but it allows the woman to continue on with her life as well. Unfortunately in recent times woman are now choosing abortion more frequently over adoption which is is verified by the following from The National Council for Adoption (2000) which argues that the reason the number of infants relinquished for adoption has been decreasing for the last 30 years is the …”almost exclusive focus on abortion as the preferred option when an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy occurs” (p.557). Adoption can often be the best case scenario for those who are pregnant but are not prepared to raise a child.

The opposition for abortion also states that even legal abortions are not a very safe practice and can cause further implications in the future. They further that abortion is by no means a “quick fix” and complications in the future such as ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, subsequent infertility and miscarriage, future premature births and placenta previa which is 7-15 times more common among women who have had an abortion than among those who have not (Barrett, 1991). It is also important to note that an abortion is an invasive procedure and with any procedure of this type there are risks that Aare associated that could be extremely harmful for the woman. It is often said that the practice of abortion is not a very safe one; however, as time goes by pro-lifers are giving more profound means of justifying not only the safeness or risks associated with the procedure, but the complications that could arise during and after the procedure has occurred.

Among the most important is that these individuals feel that the unborn baby even at a very early age is a human being and in this way stopping its existence is a crime. The pro- lifers feel that since the heart begins beating at about 25 days that these beings are as human as you and I. In addition the fact that all of the major organs are fully formed and working give those against abortion even more power in their fight to limit or terminate the rights of abortion. Lastly and maybe most prominent is that these little beings at the young age of about 8 weeks can perform such activities as sucking their thumbs, having the ability to be awake as well as have periods of sleep in the womb, and in a general sense begin to act like a regular baby. They further give proof of such evidence through the introduction and use of senate bill 158 “the human life” which states” physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being- a being that is alive and a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless, medical, biological, and scientific writings (US Senate Committee, 1981). The pro-life movement offers many reasons why a baby is as much a baby in the womb as it is when it reaches the outside world.

As we have seen above there are many that oppose this critical issue, but I would have to say there are equally as many arguments for a woman’s ability to choose abortion. I would first like to consider the oppositions stance that a national referendum is needed to allow for a better vote on a woman’s choice to have an abortion. Right from the start I have issue with this because through such a policy we are giving a group of people that know nothing about us as an individual the right to choose what is best for us. This policy would take away the individuals rights and allow others to determine what is in someone’s best interests. This would undermine women and make them feel they have no control in their health and well being which and can promote a feeling of helplessness. A national referendum is a policy that would be detrimental to women as it would take away the ability for each individual to determine what is best for that person.

One important thing I mentioned above is a woman’s rights and that is where I would like to go next with my argument for abortion. When we look at rights or freedoms one of the things we frequently observe is the United States Constitution and under this Constitution we all have the freedom of choice. This is a wonderful freedom to have, but what happens when you are given a freedom and then told you can use it with certain exceptions. That is definitely the case here. Although we all have freedom of choice when abortion comes into play that freedom seems to be diminished or taken away. So why then are we said to have choice, but then when we try to act on our choices others views seem to triumph our choice. Furthermore, the Supreme Court itself based a woman’s rights to an abortion on the right of privacy, or the right of people to make choices about their personal and reproductive life without interference from outside parties (McDonagh, 1996). I personally think in a critical issue like this there are sensitive feelings that are evoked and people forget that the ability to choose abortion is something granted to us and although each should have their own opinion so should each have their own choice. The freedom of choice is one of those tricky things that others often overlook, but is imperative to consider when we view a topic such as abortion

When speaking of abortion many often forget that there is another side to consider that is of the baby itself. We often here about what age or time after conception an embryo becomes viable, but what is not as frequently mentioned is the status and the underlying health concerns of the fetus. The opposition is quick to say that abortion can hurt the baby but I do not often hear them say what the feelings of the baby may be if they have lifelong handicaps or deformities. These deformities could be slight in nature or could carry serious detrimental effects on the fetus ending in an unacceptable quality of life. This is why there is currently variety of pregnancy related tests allowing for the parents to know any negative health conditions. If such a condition is to be found the woman should have the ability to speak for her child since the child cannot speak for itself. One very important aspect to consider when choosing abortion is whether or not the baby itself will have any handicaps or disabilities.

When speaking of abortion we must also take into consideration those who are young and immature such as the teenage girl. Now by no means am I saying that abortion should be a cop out for safe sex and sex education, but unfortunately girls are having sexual relations very early in today’s society which means a greater probability that some of them may become pregnant. There are also those teenagers that do the right thing but still end up pregnant. In a recent article by Katha Pollit (2006) she states: “The fact is there will never be zero abortions. Half of the women who abort are using birth control already—there are no perfect methods or perfect people” (9). This is an interesting stance because we do not often see an individual offering an opinion that would alleviate some of the guilt and bad representation that abortion often brings about.

There are also other circumstances to have an abortion that could have serious consequences not only on the mother but on the child as well. This in mainly because at this early of an age many if not most are not mature enough to care for a baby which is why we see so many hiding their pregnancies or getting rid of the baby after birth. In addition there are not many teenage girls who have steady employment which means that unless getting help from their parents they will not be able to support a baby. There is however a glimmer of hope as statistics have shown the there are actually a drop to around forty percent of teenagers choosing abortion (Douglas & Walbert. 1992). There are many reasons why woman especially teenage girls should at the least be given the option of abortion.

Adoption can also be seen as an alternative for many women; however there are those that would prefer not to have to go through a nine month pregnancy and then have to give their child away. The opposition says that this is a best case scenario, but I would have to disagree on this point. First and foremost, a pregnancy is for some not an easy thing to go through. There is often varying levels of sickness and other complications that could arise. They say that abortion is risky but anyone that has a high risk pregnancy could possibly say that the risks of being pregnant are often just as unsafe as the risks of having an abortion. In addition, when choosing adoption the woman must carry this baby for nine months and then have to give it away. Even for those who may not have wanted the child in the beginning now being forced to have the baby and then give it away is very difficult. There are many aspects of the adoption process that must be considered before this option is chosen.

Annas, G. D. (2010). The Real Pro-Life Stance—Health Care Reform and Abortion Funding. The New England Journal of Medicine. 362(16), e56.
Barrett, J. M. (1991). Induced Abortion: A Risk factor for Placenta Previa. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 113(6), 769.
Douglas, B. J, & Walbert, D. F. (1992). Abortion, Medicine, and the Law. 4th rev. ed. New York: Alpine Press.
McDonagh, E. L. (1996). Breaking the Abortion Deadlock: From Choice to Consent. Oxford:
National Council for Adoption (2000). Adoption Fact Book. National Adoption Fact Book, Washington, DC. Oxford UP.
Pollit, K. (2006). ProChoice Puritans. The Nation. 282(6),9.
Subcommittee on Separation to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981.
The Westchester Coalition for Abortion (2010). The Conservative Case for Abortion. http://www.choicematters.org/articles/legal-abortion.