Argumentative Essay: Pro-Choice
The debate surrounding abortion is a consistently heated one, with many different arguments arguing for either the so-named “pro-life” (opposed to abortion) and “pro-choice” (in support of abortion) positions on the issue. In essence, the issue boils down to whether or not women have the right to terminate pregnancy; pro-life advocates believe that this is tantamount to murder as it prevents a child from being born, while pro-choice advocates believe that abortion gives women control over their own bodies. While there are very compelling and emotional arguments for the restricting of abortion, the procedure itself must remain a legal one.
One of the most compelling arguments for maintaining the legality of abortion is that it is often medically necessary to abort fetuses for the sake of the health of the mother. While this is one of the approximately 7% of “hard cases” where abortion is typically necessary, the legality of abortion provides a medically effective and beneficial procedure that can help dramatically increase the likelihood that mothers will survive. Often, mothers over 35 run into medical problems that endanger their lives while pregnant; “the risk of maternal death due to a legal induced abortion in the United States is approximately 0.6 per 100,000,4 whereas the risk of death for a woman 35 to 39 years of age who attempts to carry a pregnancy to term is 21 per 100,0005 ― 35 times as high” (Greene and Ecker 2006, p. 178).
Other hard cases used as reasons to get an abortion include rape and incest; in these instances, these women have had sex against their will, and they are now burdened with a baby they were in no way prepared to have. Pro-life advocates would argue that these women would be forced to carry these children to term, potentially incurring substantial economic and emotional damage due to circumstances out of their control. By keeping abortion legal, it allows mothers to have control over what happens to their body, especially in circumstances where the pregnancy was in no way incurred due to the fault of the mother. (Annas, 2007).
Keeping abortion legal also has many other benefits; for one, it dramatically cuts down on the number of dangerous and ill-conducted abortions that are conducted without proper medical facilities and personnel. If abortion were legalized, many argue that crime would increase, particularly as desperate women seek out methods of aborting their children that can end up being dangerous in their own right, putting their body at risk to perform an abortion without the needed expertise and resource (Donohue and Levitt, 2001). With abortion being legal, the practice benefits from regulation, which vastly increases the likelihood of operations being performed safely and successfully.
The most important reason, however, should be the importance of liberty to an individual. In today’s age, with medical technology having progressed to the point where people can have fully developed sex lives and the ability to plan their family, the banning of abortion simply strips away rights that all people should have if the technology and resources are available. Women should be able to control their bodies and decide when and how they would like to have children, not be handicapped by the restriction of procedures that prevent them from making that choice.
Instead of banning abortion, efforts should be made to focus on contraception and prevention of pregnancies in the first place. Safe sex education should be encouraged in schools instead of abstinence-only education, which to date has not been successful in curbing teen pregnancies (Checkland and Wong, 1999). There are many birth control methods available, the most effective one being the combined oral contraceptive pill, which has a perfect use rate of .3%. This means that, if taken perfectly, a women has a less than 1% chance of getting pregnant, making it the most effective contraceptive method currently available. Nearly 12 million women in America use the pill (82% of women studied), making it a very prevalent and widely used method of contraception (Mosher et al., 2004). With that in mind, however, it is still possible to become pregnant even through perfect use of the pill; to that end, abortion must remain a legal option so that those who need to have the operation performed are still able to.
Opponents of supplying birth control for individuals believe that it places an extra burden on the health care system to provide teenagers with oral contraceptives. Expanding the creation and prescription of birth control pills and other methods of contraception would cost extra money, and would make parents of teenagers have to pay more for something that they may not emotionally agree with for their children, but could agree to merely for the sake of the child’s safety. The notification of the parents when a child asks for a prescription for birth control is a way to make sure that the parents are aware that their child is sexually active, particularly when they are responsible for them. As a result, it makes sense that they should be as informed as possible in an aspect of their life that can result in dramatic changes to their family (e.g. pregnancy) (Checkland & Wong, 1999).
In conclusion, abortion should remain a legal option for women in America. Many of the arguments behind the opposition movement to abortion stigmatizes men and women who have sex outside of marriage, or for pleasure, as delinquents who are doing something they should not be doing (Finer, 2005). They treat the fact that people are sexually active as the problem, and seek to punish them by not allowing them the safety nets that are legally available to protect them and their interests. If abortion were to become illegal, it would remove an option for women that is often medically necessary to survive, allows them to pursue their own liberty and family choices, and dramatically reduces crime in America. With this in mind, it is a moral and practical imperative that abortion remain legal.
Annas, G.J. (2007). The Supreme Court and abortion rights. New England Journal of Medicine
Checkland, D., and Wong, J. (1999). Teen pregnancy and parenting: social and ethical issues.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Donohue, J.J., and Levitt, S.D. (2001). The impact of legalized abortion on crime. Quarterly
Journal of Economics 116(2): 379-420.
Finer, L. et. al. (2005). Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative
Perspectives. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 37(3): 110.
Greene, M.F., and Ecker, J.L. (2004). Abortion, health, and the law. New England Journal of
Medicine 350: 178-179.
Mosher WD, Martinez GM, Chandra A, Abma JC, Willson SJ. (2004). “Use of contraception
and use of family planning services in the United States: 1982–2002.” Adv Data 350: 1–