Pro-Life v. Pro-Choice: Who is Right?
According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are roughly 3,322 abortions per day; amounting to 1.21 million abortions performed every year in the United States. There are many different opinions about abortion, such as “pro-life” or “pro-choice”. People who believe that abortion is wrong and should be stopped in our society are considered to be on the “pro-life” side of the controversy. Those who believe a woman should be able to decide what she does with her body and who support abortions in the United States would be considered “pro-choice”. In today’s society, the issue of illegalization of abortions in some states, if not all, has become more and more of a controversial topic. In order to have an opinion about this controversy, people should be informed about both sides as well as other perspectives.
Beginning of the Legality: Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade is a well-known Supreme Court decision that ultimately made abortion legal in the United States. Before Roe v. Wade, abortion was not legal at all in many states and was limited by laws in others. “The decision held that a woman, with her doctor, could choose abortion in earlier months of pregnancy without legal restriction, and with restrictions in later months, based on the right to privacy” (Burrell). According to Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision, "All state laws limiting women's access to abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy were invalidated by Roe v. Wade. State laws limiting such access during the second trimester were upheld only when the restrictions were for the purpose of protecting the health of the pregnant woman." The Roe v. Wade decision also addressed the right to privacy, which sparked a lot of controversial debate (Krause). The decision to make abortion legal in the United States sparked the controversial views and many debates about this issue in today’s society. An interesting detail that most people are unaware of is about the first abortion laws in history. “The first abortion laws were not necessarily set in the context that the fetus was, from conception, a human being that happened to be protected” (Burrell). It wasn’t until later that the controversy in legality began to circle around the life of the fetus, not necessarily the safety of the mother.
The definition of pro-choice according to American Heritage: “Favoring or supporting the legal right of women and girls to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy to term”. There are many reasons why pro-choice advocates believe this about abortion. An important argument from this side of the controversy includes: “If people want to stop abortion, they should turn to methods that do work” according to the ten arguments supporting pro-choice. This is extremely important in my opinion because if there are people who are against abortions, they should not blatantly say something is wrong without providing possible solutions. There are many ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies that result with abortions. For example, offering sex education in order for people to be informed about the decisions they are making. Pro-choice advocates also argue that, “Doctors, not governments, should always be the people to make medical recommendations and opinions” according to ten arguments supporting pro-choice. This argument is especially important because in today’s society, people feel more and more controlled by our government, causing a feeling of less power. For the government to illegalize abortions in the United States would be comparable with the President telling everyone they had to receive an operation, which is outrageous and would never be allowed. These are only a limited amount of reasons why people should have a right to their own decisions, especially when involving their own body.
The definition of pro-life according to American Heritage: “Advocating the legal protection of human embryos and fetuses, especially by favoring the outlawing of abortion on the ground that it is the taking of a human life”. On the other side of the controversy, pro-life advocates believe that abortion should be illegal and should be banned from the United States. An important argument that pro-life defenders embody is that life begins at conception, and therefore abortion is equivalent to murdering a human being. Since murder is obviously illegal in our country, it would make sense to think that abortion should also be illegal. Pro-life supporters agree with sex-education in schools however, in my opinion, do not provide the most informative sex-education. “The repressive sexual politics of the antiabortion movement have infected the public schools, pouring some $135 million annually into abstinence-only education” (Take Back Our Rights). If pro-life supporters wanted to reduce the amount of abortions in the United States, as well as eliminate them, they should shed light on every preventative, not only abstinence. This form of sex-education does not even discuss contraceptives that can be effective, it only addresses birth-control in terms of failure rates, not effectiveness (Take Back Our Rights). A different, less emotional argument would be that most Americans who pay taxes may have conflicting views about the legality of abortions since often times, U.S. tax dollars are used in order to fund a majority of abortions according to Women's Issues. However, after speculation about this claim by pro-life supporters, I researched further about tax dollar usage for abortions and found a contradiction with their claim. According to Public Funding for Abortion, “Passed by Congress in 1976, the Hyde Amendment excludes abortion from the comprehensive health care services provided to low-income people by the federal government through Medicaid.” This means that public tax dollars cannot be used to fund abortions, making pro-life claims about this irrelevant. Abortion has been made illegal in some States in the past, however has later been overturned. People advocating for pro-life are intensively trying to pass laws in order to make abortions illegal, but only time will tell what the outcome will be.
Recent controversy about government funding of public health centers such as Planned Parenthood has caused government officials to consider reducing the funding significantly. Firstly, Planned Parenthood is resource many people use not only for abortions, but for contraception, STD screening, etc. Also, according to Pace Press, “The federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives cannot be used to perform abortions. Instead has to be used for testing for STDs, consultations on body image, pregnancy advice and general sexual education.” Reduced funding from the government will significantly impact the safety of people who don’t have the ability to access professional healthcare from a hospital or doctor’s office. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Republicans want to allow states to redirect money away from abortion providers" and also take away $317 million Planned Parenthood for the 2011 fiscal year. This would mean a significant decrease in family planning, health services such as cancer screenings, and birth control availability along with many more services.
The Right Argument
In my opinion, pro-choice is the more logical answer in the debate of abortion in the United States. To me, the arguments for pro-life appear to be more of religiously and politically biased decisions when in reality; the right choice may vary for different people. The choice to keep or abort a baby should be entirely up to the woman. It is her body therefore the choice should not belong to any governmental laws or officials. In many cases, abortion is the only logical thing to do in situations of poverty, lack of family support, abusive relationships, rape, etc. For example, many women who are raped and sexually assaulted tend to not be forthcoming about what happened to them, reducing the chance of them knowing they are pregnant in the first place. Another reason the decision should be completely up to the mother is because in many situations of unwanted pregnancy, the woman ends up entirely on her own. Although fathers are required by law to pay child support, it has been my realization that sadly, this does not always happen. If a mother will be solely responsible for the child, she has the right to any decisions regarding her pregnancy.
Possible solutions for this well-known controversy are still debatable and many people with opinions about this topic may not agree with the compromises or solutions for abortion in the United States. In order to make abortion more agreeable in the United States, our government could continue to withdraw its financial support for the funding of abortions, not necessarily all of it's funding (other health services that Planned Parenthood provides) but solely the funding of abortions. If a woman has the ability to choose abortion, she should be able to pay for it herself, not rely on other people's tax money. Another possible solution that is more favored by pro-life supporters would be adoption. Adoption gives a life to the unborn child while also giving it to a family that truly wants to have a baby. Although adoption has been known to be one of the hardest decisions a pregnant woman can make, it would ultimately be beneficial for everyone involved, without having to have an abortion.
Burrell, Barbara. "Roe V. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy In American History." Rhetoric & Public Affairs 5.3 (2002): 546-548. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Nov. 2011.
Krause, Kenneth W. "Abortion's Still Unanswered Questions." Humanist 71.4 (2011): 40-42. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.
"Take Back Our Rights." Nation 10 May 2004: 3+. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.