Abortion has been and still is one of the most controversial topics in American culture. The reason for the controversy is the different viewpoints of this very personal matter. Some believe that abortion is the same as murder. Others believe its a personal choice which only they have the right to make. Due to the nature of the procedure and the concerns associated with ending a pregnancy, abortion will continue to top the list of touchy subjects in American politics and culture. As a pro-choice advocate, it is important for the right to have an abortion to be established and protected.
An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. The most common abortion procedure is the vacuum aspiration or suction curettage. This is performed during the first trimester of a pregnancy. The physician will then gradually widen (dilate) the cervix. When the cervix has been dilated to the width appropriate for your stage of pregnancy, the physician will insert a small tube (cannula) which is attached to a suction machine. The machines suction empties the contents of the uterus through the tubeThe entire procedure takes just a few minutes. On the other hand, the most controversial abortion procedure is the Partial-Birth abortion. This procedure, performed past the first trimester, has been banned in many states, including New York. the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, Bush administration lawyers said the procedure was never medically necessary to protect a woman’s health and caused undue pain to the fetus, making the procedure inhumane. (2) The procedure is also known as dilation and extraction, or D;X, and dilation and evacuation, or D;E. In a regular D;E abortion performed in the second trimester, a patient’s cervix is dilated and the fetus is dismembered and removed by forceps. (3)
In 1973 abortion was legalized in the United States. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to forbid a woman to have an abortion during her first trimester of her pregnancy. The Court also ruled that second trimester abortion was to be regulated by the state and only when the Womans health was at risk. This decision was a big step in the fight for women equality in the United States. It gave women the right to decide when or whether or not to become a mother. This was unheard of before. Before Roe v. Wade, women were having illegal abortions or undergoing unwanted pregnancies. Many died after developing and infection or bleeding to death after one of these illegal abortions. Still, many people believe that women should not be given this right. They argue that the fetus growing inside her also has rights and that they should be protected.
The pro-choice/pro-life movement has spread throughout the country, and everyone has a side or at least an opinion on the issue. The people who support the pro-choice side argue that women have the right to make any and every decision belonging to their body. Women can not and should not be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy – It is against their right as humans, to live freely and be protected under the constitution. Pro-choice advocates believe that instead of banning abortion, women should be educated on sex and birth control methods. They believe women should have access to both of these at an early age, most important in school. The reason being, that a growing number of women having abortions are young women. Therefore, it makes more sense to them, if prevention instead of abstinence is taught in schools. It is unrealistic, in their opinion to push for young women to not have sex. It is a known fact that the age at which a woman engages in sexual intercourse is dropping and this should be signal for change in the ways women are being educated. So instead of restricting or taking a womans right to choose, the government should focus on educating woman and letting her make her own decisions. This has been a hard thing to do, especially due to the fact that our current government is republican and by nature conservative. Ms. Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood of America actively disagrees with Presidents Bush actions in limiting the right of woman having an abortion. A press release posted on the Planned Parenthood website features her views on this issue; The so-called “Partial Birth Abortion Ban of 2003” is really an abortion procedures ban. Rep. Chabot’s (R-OH) broadly written ban would outlaw some of the safest and most common abortion procedures, and it makes no exception to preserve a woman’s health or future fertility. Don’t believe partial truth: in fact, proponents of this ban oppose abortion for any reason, by any method, at any point in pregnancy. This legislation is a deceptive attempt to further restrict access to all abortion procedures and another step down the road to overturning Roe v. Wade. Instead of attacking women’s civil rights by blocking access to abortion services, Congress should do more to support family planning and medically accurate sex education, which prevent unintended pregnancies. (2) However, some pro-choice advocates believe that there should be some restrictions on teen access to abortion and on abortions occurring after the first trimester of the pregnancy.
The people on the Pro-life side argue that the fetus also has rights that need to be protected under the constitution of the United States. They believe abortion is the same as murder and seek to hold responsible any one who violates the right of the unborn child. They support the current government view that abstinence should be emphasize in public schools so that young women and men wont have to deal with the choice of keeping or not keeping the child; eventually they hope to eliminate this choice all together by outlawing abortion. They reach out to society with the intention of helping women to choose life for their child. They argue that it is irresponsible and inhumane for a woman to end the life of their unborn child. For example the Pro-life action league is holding the following Christmas demonstration:
2nd Annual “Empty Manger” Caroling Day 12/18
The Pro-Life Action League will hold our second annual “Empty Manger” Christmas Caroling Day on Saturday, Dec. 18. We will visit four abortion mills in Chicago, gathering around an empty manger at each one to sing Christmas Carols about the Christ Child. The empty manger is a symbol of the hope that a little baby can bring. But it was also a symbol of the empty space that is left when a little unborn baby is killed by abortion. (4) In addition to this institution many religious groups have also participated in various demonstrations against abortions. They believe that having an abortion is against gods will. They argue that the fetus has a soul from the moment it is conceived and because of this they are already a person even in the early stages of the pregnancy. Therefore, a womans decision to end her pregnancy is like killing a person and this goes against god and their faith. Pro-life activist also argue that the fetus or child should not pay for the mothers irresponsibility. However, some pro-life advocates favor abortion in cases such as rape or when the pregnancy threatens the life or health of the mother. Pro-life defenders are not just anti-abortionists. Pro-life advocates want to educate women so that unwanted pregnancies do not occur.
In many cases what some pro-life defenders refuse to acknowledge is the reason or reasons why many of these women make the difficult choice of having an abortion. In a national survey of 1, 900 women having abortions, the most common reasons given for terminating an unwanted pregnancy were lack of economic support for a child and not being ready to become a parent. Many tend to overlook the fact that these women dont necessarily want to have an abortion, that perhaps they may be experiencing the same struggle as many anti-abortionists, but believe that having an abortion is the best choice for them. Becoming a parent is a difficult choice to make even if one is prepared for a child, it is even harder for someone that for whatever reason isnt mentally, emotionally or economically ready for one.
Writer Brian Elroy McKinley argues that although abortion destroys potential human life, it is not murder. The fetus is not a separate human being because it is not able to survive outside the womans body. Therefore it cant be granted with full human rights. Anti-abortionists challenge that the dependence of the fetus on its mother can not be used as an issue in the abortion debate. They argue that even after the child is born it still depends on its mother to survive. Pro-choice defenders believe a human does not become a full person until it gains consciousness, which does not occur until after the birth of the child but to anti-abortionist this does not in any way shape or form justify the murder of a three-month old baby.
Due to the sensitive nature of abortion, it is essential that the topic be explored on all sides and globally. For example, in Italy, abortion past the first trimester of pregnancy has been legal since 1978. Just like in the United States the issue has provoked controversy. In 1993, a 29-year-old cancer patient refused treatment for fear of damaging her unborn child and died three hours after giving birth. The case soon caught the attention of the Italian press and the Roman Catholic Church who reported the sacrifice made by this woman for her child and how irresponsible it was for others to kill their child. As a result of this case a catholic bishop called for a ban on abortion. He reasoned that women where killing what others women died for.
France has had temporary legal abortion since 1975, and the law became permanent in 1979. In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, any woman that proclaims being incapable of emotionally, mentally or physically having a child, after a one week wait and counseling is granted the right to have an abortion. In Britain, abortions have been legal for 30 years, but as in the United States the issue of Partial-Birth abortions has developed much controversy. Under Britain law two doctors have to agree to an early abortion, but Frank Dobson, responsible for the Department of Health in Britain, suggested that these terms be removed. Other European nations, such as Switzerland and Denmark, do not consider abortion to be an issue that should be fought over. Abortion in many European nations has been legal for a long time. In Colombia and Chile, like most Latin American countries, abortion is illegal. In Peru abortion is prohibited, except in cases where the health of the mother it at risk.
It is clear that the abortion issue is not only present in the United States, this is a Universal issue. It is part of human nature to reproduce and the choice of having or not having a child was not allowed to women until very recently. We can conclude that culture and religion have a lot to do with the laws that would protect the right of a woman to have an abortion. For example, European countries tend to be more culturally opened minded. Latin American countries, however, tend to be more traditional. The woman is still not considered equal to a man. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that abortion is still illegal in most Latin American cultures.
Deciding to have an abortion is a difficult decision to make no matter where in the world you live. However, it is even more difficult when the choice is not available, or when that choice is not politically or morally protected. In many countries where abortion is illegal, women are forced to either have a child they are not capable of providing for or have an illegal abortion that may cause them their lives. In some countries birth control is a luxury and sex education does not exist; sex is not an appropriate topic for the classroom and it is up to the parents to talk to their kids about sex. This is where tradition and religion play a big role. Depending in which part of the world you live the importance of religion and tradition can determine the acceptance of the abortion practice. We can conclude then, that women in the United States are privileged because they have the right to make a choice they have a choice. So why is that choice being threatened by our conservative government?
Personally, I am pro choice. As a woman I believe I have the right to decide what happens to my body. I am entitled to decide when and if I am ready for a child. I dont think anyone should be allowed to decide that for me. I also believe that my right to choose should be legally protected, especially in the United States. This is a country which is founded on the principle that we all have rights that belong to us. Deciding whether or not to have a child is a right and privilege that belongs only to women and she alone can share that right. Having an abortion is a difficult choice, as I stated before, it should not be made more difficult by putting restrictions on that choice.
Recently, the president of the United States signed an act banning second term abortion. This was not well received by pro-choice advocates. The reason is not only because this act takes away from the right to choose as previously guaranteed by an early act which made abortion legal, but because this threatens the right altogether. The republican government is by definition conservative. They want to do away with abortion all together. Advocates of the pro-choice movement are well aware of this fact and believe that if the government got away with passing this first act it is only a matter of time before abortion is banned all together. This will mean a step back for all women in the fight for equal right in the United States.
What will happen if it is banned all together? Well for starters, the practice of illegal abortions will be reinstated in the country. Young girls will go to these doctor and put their lives in their hands not knowing exactly what the outcome will be, because as with any illegal practice it will not be performed in a safe environment. It will not be followed up with proper medical attention. As a result, women will die. They will be forced to put their lives and their relationships with their families at risk. It will no longer be a personal matter or a private choice because once a woman who is afraid to have an illegal abortion and instead keeps an unwanted child will have to deal with the consequences. This might lead to losing a job, dropping out of school or even becoming mentally and emotionally unstable. I am pro-choice. I want my rights protected and I believe every woman whether she is pro-choice or pro-life will appreciate at least having a choice.