Abortion Essay, Research Paper
Abortion, which has been legal for over 23 years, is against the Constitution and the Supreme Court case that legalized it should be overturned. In 1971 a pregnant single woman (Roe) brought a class action suit challenging the constitutionality of the Texas criminal abortion laws, which prohibited having or attempting an abortion except on medical advice for the purpose of saving the mother’s life. This lawsuit was labeled Roe v. Wade. The Wade of Roe v. Wade was Henry Wade, one of the attorneys who argued the case for Texas. Roe v. Wade was first argued in the Supreme Court on December 13, 1971. Roe v. Wade was reargued October 11, 1972 and on January 22, 1973 Justice Blackmun delivered the opinion of the Court: “The [Supreme] Court declares the statutes void as vague and overbroadly infringing [the] plaintiff’s ninth and fourteenth amendment rights.” From then on an average of 4,100 abortions have been legally performed in this country daily.
Abortion is defined by a decidedly objective source (the dictionary) as “a fatally premature expulsion of a fetus from the womb” (Webster 2). Abortions are performed in a variety of ways. The procedure depends on how long the woman has been pregnant and where she decides to have the abortion. The most common methods of abortion in the United States are: menstrual extraction, suction curettage, D&E, saline, prostaglandin, and hysterotomy.
Menstrual extraction is a form of a suction curettage that doesn’t use a curette and is sometimes performed even before a pregnancy test has confirmed pregnancy. A suction curettage is performed from six to 14 weeks after the “mother’s” last period. A blunt suction tube is inserted into the uterus which extracts the baby and the uterus lining. Then a narrow metal loop called a curette is used to scrape the walls of the uterus to make sure that it has been completely emptied. The saline method is used after the sixteenth week. It is an abortion where the baby is poisoned by a salt solution that is injected through the woman’s abdomen into the amniotic sac. The baby is delivered, usually with an anesthetic that lessens the woman’s pain to that of natural childbirth. Prostaglandin is used during the same timeframe as a saline abortion. Prostaglandin is a hormone that induces labor. In a prostaglandin abortion a synthetic version of the hormone is either injected into the amniotic sac or introduced as a vaginal suppository that causes violent labor and delivery of the baby which is usually born alive because the drug doesn’t kill it in the womb. This means that once the baby is delivered it has to be “terminated” outside the womb by the doctor. During the last three months of pregnancy a hysterotomy is performed. A hysterotomy consists of the same procedure as a Caesarean section except the baby is discarded instead of being given to the mother.
One half of the abortions in America occur in the first two weeks after the woman discovers her pregnancy. Ninety percent are performed during the first trimester. Less than nine percent of abortions are during the second trimester which leaves a little more than one percent of abortions that are performed during the third trimester.
An important question to ask when determining whether abortion is right or wrong is “when does life begin?” Science can and does give a clear answer as to when life begins: “Scientifically, the term ‘human being’ signifies a complete, though not completed, living, organized, unique, individual human organism . . . The zygote [created at fertilization] fits all of these criteria. The informationally complete cell has an information content equivalent to 1000 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and unlike that of any other human being.” (Scientists for Life 15)
A zygote is the first complete human cell that is the result when the sperm enters the ovum. Since the zygote is a living human, and killing humans is an illegal act called homicide, abortion is murder, and murder is, of course, illegal.
The pro-abortion community has for years clouded the issue of when life begins, but what the scientific community says is the rule by which everyone has to go by on issues like this one. The reason is that science is the most objective way to get to the truth when issues at hand are so emotional as to obscure the judgment of those those searching for the truth. People who do not know the stand of the scientific community often fall prey to the tactics of the abortion advocates and end up believing that abortion is not murder. The first issue- clouding act of the pro-abortion group was in 1973 just before the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. In 1973 the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) changed the definition of conception.
“In the past, conception had been used as the equivalent of, and interchangeably with, fertilization. ACOG would make it equivalent to implantation, a process which goes on for days.” (Scientists for Life 29)
Many other acts of abortion advocates that have obscured the subject were not done by pro-abortion groups, but people in positions of authority who believe in abortion-on-demand. The ancient Greek Hippocratic Oath for thousands of years contained the line “I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy” this sentence has now been dropped from most medical school commencement ceremonies. for 125 years, the American Medical Association (AMA) took a firm anti-abortion position before the pro-abortion movement, declaring that abortion is the “unwarranted destruction of human life” (Knights of Columbus 2) the AMA denounced doctors who would perform abortions as “false to their professions, false to honor, false to humanity, false to God.” (Knights of Columbus 2) But, in 1989, the AMA called abortion a “fundamental right” that was to be found “free of state interference” in the absence of compelling justification. In 1963, Planned Parenthood insisted that their organization did not support abortion stating, “An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun.” (Knights of Columbus 2) Planned Parenthood is presently the self-proclaimed champion of the abortion cause.
There are a variety of reasons why women abort. Someone who supports abortion would have you believe that many if not most abortions are because the woman was a victim of rape or incest. In 1987, over a five-month period, the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) conducted a survey of 1,900 women throughout the United States for Planned Parenthood on why they had abortions. The vast majority were for personal convenience. 1% of the women surveyed had abortions because they were victims of rape or incest, 7% were attributed to threats to the mother’s psychological or physical health, 92% of the abortions were performed for social, economic, or personal reasons.
There are hypocracies in the laws of the United States. In this country a woman can walk into a licensed clinic or hospital and have her unborn baby removed with no legal repercussions for her or the doctor. Although, if this woman would have, through no fault of her own, been in an automobile accident on the way to this licensed facility and lost her baby due to this accident, the other driver would by law have been charged with fetal homicide and gone to jail. Furthermore the woman could have sued for wrongful death and become a millionaire. The same would be true if there was no wreck and she stopped on the way at a McDonald’s that was being robbed and got shot and as a result lost the child. As stated before, murder is illegal and abortion is murder. Therefore Roe v. Wade should be overturned and abortion should be made illegal. It is not that simple, however. The decision in Roe v.Wade cited constitutional principles for the legality of abortion. “The [Supreme] Court declares the statutes void as vague and overbroadly infringing [the] plaintiff’s ninth and fourteenth amendment rights.” (Justice Blackmun)
This excerpt from Justice Blackmun’s address cites the ninth amendment and the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. “Amendment IX. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The due process clause of amendment XIV:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall
make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The use of these amendments in the ruling of the court says that abortion is a “fundamental” right which cannot be denied by the state without due process of the law. And that is what it legally became with the decision of the Court in Roe v. Wade. But the historical traditions of the American people do not support the view that the right to terminate one’s pregnancy is “fundamental.” The common law which we inherited from England made abortion after “quickening” (the moment a woman feels her child in her womb) an offense. From Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist’s essay on the Court’s ruling:
“At the time of the adoption of the fourteenth Amendment, statutory prohibitions or restrictions on abortion were commonplace; in 1868, at least 28 of the then-37 States and 8 Territories had statutes banning or limiting abortion. By the turn of the century virtually every State had a law prohibiting or restricting abortion on its books. By the middle of the present century, a liberalization trend had set in. But 21 of the restrictive abortion laws in effect in 1868 were still in effect in 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided, and an overwhelming majority of the States prohibited abortion unless necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. On this record, it can scarcely be said that any deeply rooted tradition of relatively unrestricted abortion in our history supported the classification of the right to abortion as “fundamental” under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth amendment.”
Those are the constitutional reasons for overturning Roe v. Wade, but it is in the interests of women and children to do so. For the children, an overturning of the decision would simply save lives, but physical and psychological harm often comes to women who have abortions. After an abortion, many women experience one more of the following complications, some of which may take several years to surface.