At first blush, the argument against abortion is an easy one. After all, so many women have a hard time getting pregnant in the first place, that there is no reason for any woman who turns up pregnant should even want to end that baby’s life, right? No one would want his or her own mother to have considered abortion, because that meant that person would never even have existed in the first place. It is for this reason that there are so many people who get really angry about the whole abortion question. It is for this reason that Donald Trump could get up at a town hall and indicate that “if abortion was banned, and a woman went ahead and gone one, she should be punished” (Fine, web). Since everyone loves babies, who would not want to save as many babies as possible? Of course, the question is not quite that simple. If you go and look at the reasons why women have abortions, the vast majority do so because the baby would bring unwanted changes to their lives. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute in 2004, 74% of respondents indicated that a baby would dramatically change their lives, with such specific examples as interfering with education or a job, or that there were already too many other children in the family, and so that contributed to their decision. Seventy-three percent of women indicated that they could not afford a baby at the present time, and almost half indicated that they didn’t want to be a single mom or were having relationship issues. Health-related issues only took 12 percent of the respondents, and rape and incest combined for less than two percent of the answers (Finer, Frohwirth, Dauphinee, Singh & Moore). However, despite these objections, and despite the numbers, the simple fact remains that the decision to have a baby should rest with the mother. Eliminating abortion as an option legally would lead to a number of other outrages that would be even less acceptable, and they would also curtail the freedom that women have.
Some people argue that abortion ends the life of a person. However, the vast majority of abortions happen during the first trimester. At that point, the fetus would not be able to live without the mother. The umbilical cord and the placenta connect the fetus to the mother and provide all sustenance, so if you removed that, the fetus would not survive. It does not make a lot of sense to view an entity as separate if that entity cannot exist independently.
Some people argue that abortion is violating the sanctity of human life. There has to be a difference, though, between what constitutes being “alive” and being an individual. It is true that human life begins at the point of conception, but no one refers to the discarding of embryos that are fertilized for the purposes of in vitro procedures but end up not being used by the couple as “murder” or even abortion. Those embryos have been fertilized, just like eggs inside a woman’s body have, but the fact that the fertilization took place in a petri dish rather than a uterus does not make any difference.
Some people argue that adoption serves as a meaningful alternative to abortion. However, carrying a baby to term can often have the same disruptive influence on a woman’s life, even if she decides to give the baby up. Going through forty weeks of pregnancy can cause a woman to have to stop going to school, to stop working or go through some other interruption in her life. It can cause her to become dependent on a relationship that is unstable, a choice that could do more harm than good.
Some people argue that abortion is a dangerous medical procedure. That can be true later in pregnancy, but those who do this during the first trimester (88 percent) face a 0.5 percent chance of serious complications as a result (Lowen, web). Medical abortions take place without the danger, in the vast majority of cases, of harming a woman’s physical ability to conceive a baby at a later point in life and still carry that baby to term.
Some people argue that, even in the case where a pregnancy occurs as the result of rape or incest, the right of the child supersedes the right of the mother. However, a woman who has had to go through that experience would only go through more psychological trauma by being forced to carry that baby to full term. There are many times when women who go through this outrage are too fearful to speak out, and there are many times when they are too young or simply too dazed to realize that pregnancy was a possibility, and so they cannot take the “morning after” pill in time to terminate the pregnancy without an abortion.
Some people argue that abortion is just a form of birth control for those who are too lazy to get the pill or another way of keeping themselves from becoming pregnant. However, pregnancy sometimes takes place when people use contraceptives responsibly. Only eight percent of women who undergo abortions were not using any other form of birth control when they had sex (Lowen). One could argue that those women who do get pregnant without birth control and then have an abortion did so more because they were careless about getting birth control than they were confident in the fact that they saw abortion as a viable alternative.
Some people argue that the process of abortion violates the civil rights of the fetus. However, telling a woman what to do with her body violates her civil rights, and she has already become an individual person, while the fetus has not done so yet. If you can mandate, through the law, that a woman carry a fetus all the way to delivery, what would keep you from mandating that a woman use contraceptives, or even undergo the procedure of sterilization? Once the government takes away one fundamental reproductive right of a woman, there is nothing keeping the government from taking away some others, or even all of them.
Some people argue that federal funding should not go toward the cost of abortion services. However, without that federal funding, access to safe medical abortions would only be available to the wealthy. Those who do not have the means could be left to resort to dangerous methods, such as taking toxic substances or going through unsafe surgical procedures that are much more hazardous to their own health than the safety of an abortion in a regulated clinic. If abortion is going to be legal, then everyone should have access to it in its safest form.
Some people argue that teenagers who become pregnant should take responsibility for their actions and raise their children. Many of these teenagers do, but that does not mean that every teen who becomes pregnant should have to do so. There are some teenagers who have a supportive family structure who will help them with the baby while they finish school. However, many others lack that structure and then have to drop out of school and forget about going to college any time soon. The future prospects for both the mother and the child are grim in this instance, because her earning power will suffer as a result, and the baby is much more likely to grow up in poverty and rely on public assistance.
No one should take from this essay that the writer believes that abortion is an easy choice. No one who undergoes an abortion does so with a light heart or with an easy conscience. However, for some people, having access to abortion provides a way out of a situation that could have changed their lives in an irreversibly negative way. The fact that abortion exists as a choice does not mean that everyone who is pregnant must get an abortion. For those who choose to carry their baby to term, there are also plenty of support structures in place. However, in order to maintain the rights of women, it is important to maintain abortion as a safe choice.
Fine, Julie. “Pastor Robert Jeffress Stands by Donald Trump’s Comments about
Abortion.” NBCDFW.com 1 April 2016. Web. 13 April 2016.
Finer, Lawrence; Frohwirth, Lori; Dauphinee, Lindsay; Singh, Susheela; and Moore, Ann. “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative
Perspectives.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 37(3): 110-118.
Lowen, Linda. “10 Arguments: For and Against Abortion.” About News 6 March
2016. Web. 13 April 2016.