Several years ago, a woman I know had to make a very difficult and controversial decision. She was twenty fours years old and a single mother of one child. She had moved in with a new boyfriend and promptly quit her job. She no longer had a vehicle, since she had been in a car accident weeks earlier, so there was not much prospect of her finding work. A few weeks into this new relationship, she found herself pregnant. This was completely unplanned, but they both seemed to be very excited about it. A month later, however, the situation radically changed. She found her boyfriend to be possessive and abusive. She decided to move out one day while he was at work. Because she had no money, no job, and no car, she was forced to temporarily stay with some family. That situation turned volatile very quickly as well. At this point she had to make a decision: should she have the baby, knowing full well she couldn’t take care of it, or should she have an abortion? Because I know her, I know that this was a very difficult decision for her to make. In the end she chose to have an abortion. Because of her decision to have an abortion, five years later, she is in a much better situation. She has a full time job, a car, and her own apartment. She also now has two beautiful children. About a year after he abortion, she had a much more stable life and when she found herself pregnant (unplanned, though it was) she chose to have the baby. This time she knew she would be able to properly care for the child.
I firmly believe that this woman made the best choice for herself. I have always believed that abortion is a woman’s right. No one should be allowed to interfere with such a difficult and personal decision. In fact, I don’t believe that the government has any right to interfere with abortion at all. My reasons for these beliefs are not based solely on this one woman that I know; they are in fact based firmly in facts.
To begin with, abortion is not such a black and white issue, as most pro-lifers think it is. A woman could have any number of reasons for wanting an abortion. On the top of this list would be the mother’s health and well-being. There are many medical conditions that could put a pregnant woman’s life in danger. For example, entopic pregnancies (pregnancies in which the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, often in the fallopian tubes) are highly dangerous and most doctors advise abortion in these cases. There are also other medical conditions such as endometriosis, high or low blood pressure, as well as a variety of mental health problems.
Another reason for a woman to want an abortion would be in the case or rape or incest. To be violated in that way, to have the feeling of all of your rights being taken from you is horrible in and of itself. However, to become pregnant due to this assault could be tantamount to being violated all over again. I imagine that some women would be able to handle this situation, but for many of us, it is simply asking too much.
Other reasons for choosing an abortion can range from problems with the fetus itself, such as severe genetic defects. While there are many who oppose the idea of aborting a baby because of these defects, the truth of the matter is that not everyone can handle caring for and raising a handicapped child.
Lastly, there is of course, the most common, unplanned pregnancies. Many of these pregnancies happen to teenagers. “If you do not allow teenage girls who accidentally become pregnant to have abortions, you are demanding that they either raise their children as single mothers of that they marry in shotgun weddings.” (source 4) As statistics show, none of these options are very promising. “Unmarried teenage moms seldom get much financial or emotion support from the fathers of their babies. They tend to drop out of high school, go on the dole and are prone to lives of poverty, frustration, and disorder.” (source 4) This is hardly conducive to good child-rearing.
It is also a simple fact that abortion has been around for centuries. In fact it wasn’t until the second century that abortion was viewed as morally wrong. Most societies believed that an infant’s life began from the first breath the baby took. Even in more conservative societies, such as those in the Middle East, abortion was not entirely shunned. Having an abortion might have resulted in a fine, but nothing harsher than that. In Rome abortion was actually quite common. And even the Judeo-Christian Bible says nothing on abortion. In fact, in the Talmud (ancient Jewish law that is based on the Torah) is clearly states that the fetus is “part of the mother and a distinct being.” It goes so far as to require that a woman have an abortion if the pregnancy is life threatening. (source 1) What all this history says to me, is that were we to make abortion illegal, it would not put a stop to the practice, it would simply further endanger the lives of these pregnant women.
Now, I realize that most, if not all, pro-life advocates would insist that adoption is the way to go. However, I wonder if these people would be prepared to give away their child. It is very easy to say, “This is what is right and what must be done.” It is entirely another matter to actually commit the action. The fact is “few unwed mother give up their babies for adoption.” (source 4) And I certainly can’t blame them. A pregnant woman goes through months of bonding with her unborn child, and then hours of painful labor. I cannot imagine the strength and fortitude it would take to hand that baby over to someone else and simply walk away. Nor do I know many women who could do that. Adoption, just isn’t always an option.
My final, and most important point is that the debate on abortion is based very highly upon religious beliefs. It is clearly stated in the Constitution that there is to be a separation between Church and State. This is my strongest point. Regardless of one’s personal opinion on abortion, it is most likely, based on one’s religious views, and therefore should never be pushed onto another person. The largest proponents of the pro-life activists are, in fact, the Christian Coalition and the Roman Catholic Church. (source 2) These groups have tried to force their beliefs on the American public so far, that they even have “pressured political leaders at the national level and municipal officials at the local level to make access to [abortion] clinics more difficult.”
I’ll give the pro-life activists their due. They are entitled to have an opinion. They firmly believe that abortion is morally wrong, and is in fact, murder. They support this belief by insisting that life begins at the moment of conception. (source 1) “James Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family, a Christian organization that opposes abortion”, states “Surely the Lord does not look upon the baby inside the uterus with any less love and concern than one who enters the world a few minutes later.” (source 1) It seems the resounding idea is that abortion equals murder.
However, while the pro-lifers are busy spouting their opinions on abortion, claiming that abortion is murder, they have been busy committing their own homicides. In fact, between the years of 1993 and 1995, “five abortion doctors and clinic workers” were “killed in the U.S.” There were also “37 incidents of attempted or successful arson or bombing of abortion clinics.” (source 2) I also must counter that argument based upon the “Lord.” Not everyone in this country is a Christian, so why should they be governed by that religion? Are we to return to the days of the religious persecutions? burning of heretics? This is a frightful idea. And while it may seem very fanciful, once our rights begin to dissolve, and we allow a religion to dictate our laws for us, this could once again, become the scary reality.
As I have stated, I completely believe that abortion is a woman’s right. Thankfully politicians are beginning to agree with this opinion as well. A bill being put through Congress right now defines abortion as a “fundamental right” and would eliminate funds to hospitals refusing to perform abortions or refer patients to clinics that do. (source 3) The choice to have an abortion is very difficult and personal. There can be any number of reasons a woman might choose abortion over adoption. And her decision should not be up for a political debate based on the religious views of others. Abortion has been practiced for centuries, and will not end even if it is, once again, outlawed. And regardless of the debate of when human life truly begins, one undeniable fact is that the mother already is alive and has rights as a woman.Works Cited
1. “Abortion: When Does Human Life Begin?” Issues & Controversies On File 22 Aug. 2005. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services. 1 Apr. 2009
2. “Abortion.” Issues & Controversies On File 8 Dec. 1995. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services. 1 Apr. 2009
3. Carlson, Joe. “Hobson’s choice for Catholics?.” Modern Healthcare 39.6 (08 Feb. 2009): 17-17. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Harrisburg Area Community College, Harrisburg, PA. 25 Mar. 2009
4. Weisberg, Jacob. “What Happened to Family Values?.” Newsweek 15 Sep. 2008: 41+. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Harrisburg Area Community College, Harrisburg, PA. 25 Mar. 2009