Abortion Essay, Research Paper
Amber Lee Smith Smith 1
Dr. S. Coats
November 28, 2000
Abortion: The Choice of the Woman
In Society today there are many topics that are considered to be controversial. Yet, perhaps no contemporary issue inspires more controversy than abortion. ?Abortion is conceptualized as a means of fertility control in relationship to contraceptive use? (McCormick 1). One can hardly turn on the television, open up a newspaper or even have a conversation without the topic coming up one way or another. It is the subject of many arguments and violent protest. When one is strongly pro-choice, believing in the right to choose, and the other is strongly pro-life, believing that abortion is murder, plain and simple. Even the best of friends can sound like worst enemies when engaged in a discussion about abortion. The two sides are very divided and very often refuse to compromise with each other. Many people have there own opinions and stick firmly to them. ?The real issue is ?Who has the right to decide what?s right?? including what justifies it, and most importantly, what process should be used to establish what is right? (Alstad 1). A woman should have the right to choose what she is or is not going to do with her body. Pro-choice is the most reasonable and sensible choice; it is based on logical thoughts and backed up by real facts.
Abortion is nothing new. For years and years it existed but it was not readily available. In those days each state was responsible for deciding when and if abortion was legal. In 1970, a few states legalized abortion. In 1973, however, a landmark decision that made abortion legal in all states was made in the case, Roe v. Wade. In this case, the United States Supreme Court
declared most restrictive laws against abortion unconstitutional because they violate a woman?s constitutional right to privacy. In addition, it left the decision to have a first-trimester abortion up to the woman and her doctor. Also, states could pass regulations to ensure the safety of second-trimester abortions and could prohibit third-trimester abortions. Since that time, further restrictions have also been legalized. In the 1989 case of Webster v. Reproductive Services, the Supreme Court ruled that abortions could not be performed by public employees or in facilities that are funded by the taxpayers. Then, in 1990 they ruled that the state legislatures had the option to require teenage girls to notify both parent before having an abortion. In 1991, a decision barred federally funded clinics from providing the option of abortion, but this restriction has since been overturned.
Since Roe v. Wade, there have been many attempts to overturn the decision but to date none of them have been successful. A number of state legislatures have voted on bills that would make abortion illegal, except in the cases of rape, incest, or medical emergency. None of these attempts have been passed either. In addition, in 1992, the Supreme Court added a provision to the Roe decision. It stated that states could no longer place any further restrictions on abortion. This included notifying parents or spouses or making a mandatory twenty-four hour waiting period before the procedure. Also, the 1976 Hyde Amendment restricted federal funds for abortions, yet several states continued to fund them for poor women. These restrictions have been loosened since President Clinton came into office, however. He also reversed the Reagan administration?s decision to ban the federal funding of research using fetal tissues obtained from abortions (Guernsey 61).
There were many people who felt that with the Roe v. Wade decision and those preceding it that the controversy was over. That, however, was definitely not the case. The Roe decision to some people was like adding fuel to the fire. Now abortion rights are as controversial as ever. Never before have so many people spoken out so prominently on the issue and never before have the sides been so divided and so out of control.
There are two sides that make up the abortion controversy, pro-life and pro-choice. Pro-life supporters are totally against abortion. They feel that abortion is murder and that it completely goes against basic principals and morals. Opposing the pro-life group is the pro-choice group. Their stance on the issue is that it is a woman?s right to choose whether or not she wants to have an abortion. Pro-choicers also argue that legal abortion is safer than illegal abortion, and attempts of the public to interfere with the decision of abortion are denying women their constitutional right to privacy. Many people feel, however, that if somebody is pro-choice, that they are pro-abortion, and that is not always the case. The pro-choice group simply feels that the choice should be available to the woman. ?A woman may do whatever she pleases in and to her own body? (qtd. in Baird and Rosenbaum; English 83).
There are several major issues which revolve around the abortion controversy. At what point is a fetus considered a life? Pro-life supporters argue that a fetus becomes life at the moment of conception. Pro-choice retorts that a fetus does not become a life until it can survive on its own. One issue that abortion revolves around is whether or not abortion is in the best interest of the child. This is their main point of dispute, even though the child cannot begin to think on its own until it is born. Pro-life supporters feel that terminating the child?s life is not in his/her best interests because it is not yet born. Second, that Roe v. Wade was overturned and
women have no choice but to carry the child to term? What then happens to the unwanted child? Is it in that child?s best interests to be neglected, or possibly even abused? I do not think so. When Dr. Henry Morgentaler was interviewed he stated, ?Unfortunately, most of the people who are against abortion do not seem able to make the distinction between potential life and a real live baby. When you go on the assumption that a fertilized egg is already a baby, which is completely crazy and nonscientific, then you have to be blinded by dogma not to understand that a microscopic cell is not a baby ?Claire 58).
Another controversy exists around what will happen should the Roe decision ever be overturned. Those that favor the reversal think that it will make everything better, that overturning Roe v. Wade will put an end to abortion and then there will be no more controversy. That was what was thought when Roe v. Wade was introduced. Yet, overturning the decision will just spark more controversy. Legal or illegal, women who want/need them bad enough will find ways to get abortions. If the Roe decision were to be overturned, there would be a sense of protest and violence surrounding this issue that never existed before. There would be even more killings, more bombings, and more violence.
One final issue surrounding abortion is morality, and whether or not abortion is moral. Morality relates to the principles of right and wrong. The moral issues involved in abortion are among the most difficult to settle. Pro-life advocates feel that abortion is wrong, that it is murder. There are some that admit abortion maybe acceptable if the pregnancy would be fatal to the mother, or perhaps in the cases of rape or incest. The justification in that, however, is unclear. If they feel that abortion is murder, then how can it be justified in some circumstances? Murder is murder; it doesn?t matter under which circumstances it occurs. As writer JoAnne
Guernsey states, ?Why should the right to life depend on the circumstances of conception? And if exceptions are extended to one fetus, why should they be withheld from other fetuses?? (Guernsey 54). Pro-choice supporters also talk about morality. How moral is it to bring an unwanted child into the world? How moral is it to deny the option of choice to a young girl, pregnant as a result of rape or incest? It?s not.
The scene is all too familiar: two sides shouting across to one another; one with pictures of bloody fetuses, one with pictures of bloody coat hangers on the other. Pro-life supporters want to take the constitutional right of choice and privacy away from women to save the ?lives? of the unborn. They, however, can go into abortion clinics and kill completely innocent people. They also want to kill millions of women by reversing the Roe decision and exchanging it for increased suicide and death resulting from illegal abortions. The pro-choice supporters are the rational and the logical. These people are just after what they deserve, their constitutional rights. And so here we stand, divided on an issue that will probably never be resolved. At least not in the near future, anyway. If pro-life activists could only open their eyes and see that what they are trying to achieve is only going to make things worse: they are so wrapped up in the rights of the unborn child, that they are ignoring whom the issues really concern; the woman and her need for the option of choice. That is the most logical, sensible option available today.