Pro-Choice: The Feature of Modern Life

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Undoubtedly, abortion remains a highly debated topic in today’s society. Some consider it a moral issue and then others consider it more of a political discussion. Of course with all arguments, it is more than just a simple black and white answer. From the moral aspect to the political perspective, there are many factors that one must consider when deciding which side of the line they stand. To fully understand the arguments for and against abortion, we must first understand the history behind it and what exactly it is today.

Looking back in time, the first known practices of abortion begins with the Ancient Egyptians around 1550 B.C. Moving forward in time, we know that both the Ancient Greeks and the Romans approved abortions. Philosopher Aristotle wrote the following: ‘when couples have children in excess, let abortion be procured before sense and life have begun…” Of course later on, the Romans accepted it but did not approve of the practice. This was mostly because the father would not want to be deprived of a potential child.

Fast forwarding to the period of Westward Expansion, abortion was advertised and entirely legal. However, it was unregulated and often it was lethal to the mother as well as the fetus. Even so, it was still allowed if it was done before the “quickening.” The quickening was a term used for the first detectable movement of the fetus. Often this happens between the thirteenth week and the twenty-fifth. Early America had adopted this ideology from British Common Law which used the same method.

Connecticut was the first state who banned abortion in the year of 1821. It was declared criminal to take abortion inducing drugs to kill a fetus; though women were not punished for taking the drugs until 1845. New York was the first state to discipline women for taking part in the procedure. By this time, the quickening was not used as a standard for deciding if it were ethical or not. As a matter of fact, it was outlawed to have an abortion at any stage in pregnancy. Soon after, one of the first Pro-Life advocates, Dr. Horatio Storer convinced the American Medical Association to assist him in banning abortion in all fifty states. Later in 1956, his wish had come true. All of the states in the union had criminalized abortions.

Later, in the case of Roe vs. Wade, the anti-abortion laws were declared unconstitutional. To reform this, the Judicial Branch legalized prescribed abortions to women if it was beneficial to “maternal health.” Not long after, a lawsuit filed by Norma McCorvey against Roe vs. Wade, sought to allow a woman to receive an abortion by her choice; regardless of the fact that nothing was wrong with the pregnancy. She even went so far as to lie and say that the pregnancy was a result of rape. However, McCorvery later retracted those claims; explaining that she hope that it would help persuade the judge to rule in her favor. Happening in Dallas, Texas, the procedure was not yet legal in the state. So in conclusion, she did not receive approval for her abortion. The baby was eventually born and adopted. To summarize, abortion, today, is legal in the United States.

Now, to discuss what exactly an abortion is defined as. An abortion is a surgical procedure that involves a suction curettage. A suction curettage is the process of basically suctioning the fetus out of the womb. Between the twelfth and sixteenth week, it is called a D&E, better known as a dilation and evacuation. That is the most common way that women have abortions. The second most common was is by an abortion pill. In particular, the pill, RU-486 is most commonly used. This pill is usually taken between the seventh and ninth week of pregnancy. Many choose to use a clinic abortion because it is quicker: five to ten minutes; opposed to the pill which can take up to twenty-four hours.

Arguments In Favor of Abortion

Certainly the arguments that advocates for Pro-Choice make are inviting to many different people. From focusing on the woman, to the facts about fetus development, those that approve of abortions provide reasonable support for their beliefs. Many studies have been conducted on the abortion procedure that encourages it as well. Those include but are not limited to psychological studies and medical studies.

Perhaps the largest argument that Pro-Choice advocates make, involve civil rights. If the government can force a woman to follow through with a pregnancy that she does not want, does that mean that the government can also force a woman to undergo a sterilization procedure? Shouldn’t it be the woman’s choice to decide what happens to her body? That is what those in favor of abortions believe. They follow this train of thought: a woman can decide what she does with her body, a fetus is inside of a woman’s body, a woman then has the right to decide if the fetus stays inside of her body, thus, a woman has the right to have an abortion. For this argument to work, they say that the fetus is a part of the woman. The fetus is attached to the mother via the umbilical cord and the placenta. As a result, it is dependent upon her health. Everyone has the right to surgically remove part of their liver or a kidney right? With this logic, they conclude that a woman then has the right to remove the fetus since it is a part of them.

Somewhat along those same lines lies the argument that prohibiting an abortion is gender inequality. Pro-Choicers say that if a woman is forced to follow through and birth the fetus, then they are then expected to care for the baby. As a result, the woman is restricted in the sense that now she has the “burden” of raising a baby. Frederica Mathewes-Green says this, “No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” Men do not get pregnant. Thus men are not subject to the same restriction. So by prohibiting a woman from having an abortion, she is being treated as unequal. David Hershenov put it this way, “Since only women can become pregnant, they suffer inequalities on account of biology. If women cannot avoid by choice a pregnancy that men avoid by nature, then they are permanently relegated to second-class citizenship.”

Another argument that they make is that the fetus is not actually “alive” at fertilization. Fertilized eggs used for vitro fertilization die and are discarded of everyday, but yet that is not considered murder? Jill Filipovic says the following on this topic: “There has been no concerted anti-abortion effort to demand research funding into why all of these fertilized eggs die, or to find a cure. Perhaps that’s because even the most active anti-abortion advocates know the truth is that a fertilized egg is not the same as a three-year-old, and they do not genuinely believe that it has the same right to life.” Science shows that fetuses do not have the brain connections to feel pain until they are at least twenty-four weeks into development. In addition, they cannot survive out of the womb before twenty-one weeks. Many people believe that until a fetus is “viable,” or able to survive independently from its mother, it is perfectly fine to have an abortion.

From a psychological point of view, is it ethical to force a woman to birth a child that was conceived through rape? Those for Pro-Choice state that there is no such thing as PASS (post abortion stress syndrome). NBC News released an article earlier this year reporting that Dr. Julia Steinberg and her team at the Department of Family Science at the University of Maryland studied 400,000 women born after 1980. By studying this huge database, they discovered abortions do not lead to depression. The American Psychological Association endorses this finding by saying, “that stress was greatest prior to an abortion.”

Along the same lines, many studies reveal that abortion is now a safe procedure. Safe not only in the present, but it does not have any lasting side effects such as the inability to conceive later on in life. In fact, 0.5% of people are at risk for serious complications. David A. Grimes claims that those who believe it is not safe, are those who “cherry pick” the procedures that ended poorly. Additionally, he points out that, in recent decades, the risk of death from abortion has been around 1 per 100,000 procedures. To put that in some perspective, the estimated risk of death from an injection of penicillin is about 2 per 100,000 injections.”

Yet another reason that Pro-Choicers present is the fact that if the government outlawed abortion, women would turn to dangerous and unsafe measures to have an abortion. That would put the woman at risk of death and other possible diseases or infections. Lisa Edelstein said it this way, “Decades ago, women suffered through horrifying back-alley abortions. Or, they used dangerous methods when they had no other recourse. So when the Republican Party launched an all-out assault on women’s health, pushing bills to limit access to vital services, we had to ask: Why is the GOP trying to send women back…to the back alley”

Not long ago, the Democratic Party endorsed abortions. In 2016, they issued this statement, “We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion – regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing.” Furthermore, several Christian churches have announced their support for abortions. Those include the United Methodist Church, Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, and also the Presbyterian Church.

To summarize the arguments that Pro-Choice advocates make: a woman has the right to her body and can thus choose to have an abortion. If the government prohibits a woman from having an abortion, they are treating her unequally when compared to man. When a woman has an abortion, she does not have any lasting side effects such as grief or guilt. When we look at abortions, we should discuss the issue as a medical service, not an action. In addition, we should focus on the health risks and not the ethics; just like prescribing drugs. Altogether, these points mentioned above form the basis of the reasoning behind abortion.

Arguments Against Abortion

As with any issue, with any view point comes an opposing side. To the Pro-Choicers, that opposing side is the advocates for Pro-Life. Just as convincing as abortion activists, these people make logical points as to why abortion is inhumane and unethical. From using scientific research and findings to just plain natural law, Pro-Life believers make a formidable opponent to those who support abortion.

Unlike those for Pro-Choice, anti-abortionists are adamant that life begins at cell division. They claim that the moment that cells begin to divide, to create a fetus that is when life begins. To explain it as the process of growing, Richard Rowe says that the process of development began when you began developing: “The first cell division. From this point, provided nothing stops it from happening, you will inevitably develop into an adult. Only the interruption of an ongoing process will change that.”

From a more scientific view, twenty-two days after conception, the cardiovascular system develops. The fetus’ heart is now circulating its own blood and it has a heartbeat. Six weeks into the pregnancy, the fetus has developed eyes, eye lids, a nose, and a mouth. It is at this time that brain activity can be detected. By the ninth week, the fetus has developed all of its organs that are vital for life. Finally, by the tenth week, the fetus can move. Due to modern day science advances, parents can now view their unborn child in real-time via ultrasounds. They can see it smile, hiccup, and even suck its thumb.

“Homicide, in its most basic sense, is a deliberate act that deprives a person of time they would have had on Earth, if not for your intervention. That’s true if you intervene to take the last day of life from an 80-year-old, the last 40 years from a 40-year-old, or the last 80-years from a one-day old. From the moment a child is conceived, they’re in the process of developing into an adult. If you deliberately intervene on, or interrupt, that process, it can hardly be defined as anything but ‘homicide.’ The only question at that point is… is it justifiable?” – Richard Rowe

With this information, Pro-Lifers have argued that a fetus is a human and thus has its own rights. They also conclude that by having an abortion, one is committing a murder. Since there is no civilization on earth that allows murder without punishment, those that have an abortion are committing a criminal act. Leo Varadkar says, “I consider myself pro-life, as I accept that the unborn is a human life with rights, and I do not support abortion on request or on demand.”

Though anti-abortionists may beg the differ, following through with the pregnancy and then giving over the baby to adoption is a good option offered by Pro-Life advocates. It is true that many may change their mind once they have birthed the child, but those that do not provide a couple who cannot have kids with a baby. Studies show that 1.5 million families are waiting to adopt in the United States alone. So “there is no such thing as an unwanted child,” is a valid point. Pro-lifers also say that, “On average, about 100,000 children are adopted every year in America alone; currently, that’s a little less than ten percent of the number who are aborted.”

To the question as if a woman should be forced to carry a child that resulted from rape, anti-abortionists say, yes. Their argument is that the Supreme Court deems the death penalty for a rapist as inhumane. Does that mean that one should punish the child conceived in rape with death? They explain as if we were to be punished for something that our parents did. For example, if a child’s father did drugs and is punished for that, does that mean that the child should go to jail as well just because their father did?

In addition, they claim that activists against abortion are influenced by their religion. To this accusation they respond by stating that laws against murder and stealing have roots in the Ten Commandments. They ask the question as to “which one would you like to toss?” Plus they state that it is natural law that prohibits the murder of a fetus.

Although these are all major subtopics of the debate, the largest debate is over the women’s rights. Those that support Pro-Choice accuse Pro-Lifers of not caring for the rights of the one caring the child. To this accusation, they respond by saying that,

“Fifty percent of unborn children are girls. The unborn female has a body that is separate to that of her mother. She has her own unique DNA. Her genetic code directs the development and growth of her own body, from the moment of conception. Therefore, one out of every two abortions takes away the rights of a woman. It takes away her right to control her own body. It takes away her right to choose anything in the future. It takes away a right more fundamental than the right to choose – the right to not be killed.”

This powerful statement is the long version of, “what about the rights of the unborn women?” This leads to the next topic.

Anti-abortionists believe that the fetus is inside, but not a part of the woman. At the time of conception, the two different DNA strands from the father and mother combine to form a unique code that belongs to the fetus. They say that a fetus is a separate being and that just because something is inside of something else, does not make that thing the other. An example is the bacteria living inside of everyone’s gut. Because the bacterium is inside your gut, does that make you a bacteria or the bacteria you? The following quote expands upon this belief, “If it truly were ‘a part of the mother’s body,’ then it would have its mother’s DNA. Put it this way: If that fetus escaped and committed a crime, and left DNA evidence on the scene, it wouldn’t be the mother going to jail. Ergo, by our own legal definition, they are separate people.”

Furthermore, Pro-Life activists claim that PASS is real. They believe that the guilt and depression that mothers feel after an abortion is a real mental state that is diagnosable. In addition to the mental consequences, the physical consequences are also distinguishable. Studies show an increase in miscarriages later on, to infections, bleeding, tearing, and organ damage as a result of the medical surgeries used to abort.

To summarize, to 3every point that Pro-Choice activists make, the anti-abortionists seem to have an equally powerful point to neutralize the opposing side. Perhaps this is why this issue seems to be a never ending debate. From deciding if they are one or separate beings, to declaring abortion murder, anti-abortionists continue to match their opponents with equally intriguing questions that cause people to rethink their own views.

Conclusion to Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Arguments

To conclude, abortion continues to remain a highly debatable topic. Pro-Choice activists claim that women should have a right to their own body. Pro-Life activists claim that it is not just a woman’s body, but the body of the unborn child. In addition, those for abortion do not see it as murder. Contradicting, those against abortion adimmately declare it as murder of a human being. Both sides continue to promote their own beliefs in hopes of convincing people of their own convictions. It is up to us to decide where we stand. In closing, one last quote from Robert Casey, “However we might oppose it, abortion is a feature of modern life.”

Cite this paper

Pro-Choice: The Feature of Modern Life. (2021, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/pro-choice-the-feature-of-modern-life/

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