Analyzing such controversial issue as abortion, it can be stated that despite the fully examined medical aspect of such procedure, which is currently being performed in practice around the globe, the issue of abortion is still unresolved and open for discussion. In that regard, the issue of abortion creates a certain field in which the issue can be examined in several dimensions.
One of the dimensions might be derived from considering abortion as a solely, personal problem for the woman, or in other terms a medical problem, just like any other surgical intervention, in which the problem is solved between the doctor and the patient. Another dimension considers abortion as a question of morale, and thus, it is an ethical problem and very complex at that. The woman solves a moral problem even before coming to the doctor, where the question at stake concerns the life or death of a future human being, and after coming to the doctor the question does not disappear, but on the contrary becomes more complex, as a third person is involved. Based on such opinions lies the field of public policy, which transformed this issue into a social and a deeply political matter, practically dividing western society into two opposing camps, the pro-life and the pro-choice camp.
In the light of the aforementioned, this paper analyzes abortion as a public policy issue in the United States, providing the arguments of the opposing opinions, and accordingly recommendations for the policy.
The key decision that established the legal status of abortion in the United States was in a landmark case, ROE v. WADE (1973). The decision of the court, in that case, stated that the criminal abortion statute (Texas statute), which “excepts from criminality only a life-saving procedure on behalf of the mother, without regard to pregnancy stage and without recognition of the other interests involved, is violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (“Roe Et Al. V. Wade (1973)”). Nevertheless, despite the ruling in favor of abortion, in that case, various proposals of amendments were presented immediately from the pro-life movement, an anti-abortion movement, which stated goal is saving and protecting unborn children. At the same time, the opposing group, i.e. pro-choice movement, which main goal as their title implies is emphasizing that abortion is a matter of privacy, feared that the efforts of the pro-life group would reverse the Roe v. Wade decision. The latter was constantly lobbying legislatures to amend the decision, from 1973 to 1989, where “Court struck down most of these restrictions [enacted by lobbying] and reiterated its ruling that states could not interfere in any way with women’s right to privacy in securing abortions” (McBride). In another key court case, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, the court ruled that life begins at conception, and that “unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being” (McBride). In that regard, the actions of both groups took a state-by-state approach, in which laws were enacted to overturn the Roe decision, or at least impose conditions on abortion. Accordingly, the current status of abortion, despite its legality is differentiated by each state, in which regulations and conditions, such as defining the legal term, informed consent, spousal notification, and other factors are on a state-by-state basis, varying the victories in different cases for pro-life and pro-choice groups.
The support for abortion is mainly based on the freedom of choice, in which the woman has the right to control her fertility and reproduction. In that regard, the arguments on which abortion is supported includes such facts as the minimal risk of performing an abortion, and that “[a]bortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of such problems as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries” (“Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States”). Additionally, the supporters of abortions refer to that the elimination of any factors for consideration, other than the health factor, will result in taking the right from women to make the decision of becoming a mother, and thus, leading to that the baby might be born in unprepared and inconvenient settings (“Abortion”). The latter can be followed by the fact that the percentages of women obtaining abortions include 17 years old teenagers, women who have never married, women below the poverty level, etc.
Accordingly, the claims for supporting abortions are enforced by the need for high standard medical access to abortions, in which such access will be equalized and supervised by trained and highly qualified providers (“Unequal Access to Abortion”).
The basis for the opposition to abortion is directly related to issues of protection of the unborn. In that regard, the pro-life group argues that the unborn child has the right to protection, and as it is recognized that human life exists from the moment of conception” (“Abortion”), the fetus is considered a human being. The arguments of against abortions include such facts as physical complications from abortions, e.g. “bleeding, hemorrhage, laceration of the cervix,  menstrual disturbance,  inflammation of the reproductive organs,  bladder or bowel perforation,  and serious infection” (“Abortion: Medical Facts”), and psychological complications. Accordingly, the opposition to abortions demands restriction and ban for abortion, except for the cases when the health of the mother is concerned (“Abortion”).
At the present time, their differentiation in abortions includes 38 states in which abortions is prohibited after a certain point and 4 states permit abortion after that point to save the life of the woman (” State Policies on Later-Term Abortions “). In that regard, taking such differentiation as an example it can be seen that regardless of the side taken in such matter, leaving the dependency of the life of the woman on such factor as the geographical location, based on which a restriction could be imposed is not acceptable. Accordingly, the state-by-state regulations should take a federal approach, according to which a committee should establish the general rules and standards based on medical facts, rather than a debate over the time the life begins. In that regard, the basis for a new policy should be seen in establishing a common ground, in which the arguments and the facts should be directed toward a common goal, based on which a compromise should be found.
The status of abortion is a debatable issue, in which the opposition and the support ahs their own arguments and facts confirming their opinion. Accordingly, despite the legal status, the legality of abortion in fact is differentiated among the states, according to conditions and terms of pregnancy. In that regard, the searching for a point of intersection among the opposing parties might help reaching a policy that should be have general standards and rules, applicable on the federal level.
“Abortion”. 2009. Public Agenda. Web.
“Abortion: Medical Facts”. 2009. National Right to Life. Web.
“Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States”. 2008. Guttmacher Institute. Web.
“Roe Et Al. V. Wade (1973)”. 2009. FindLaw. Web.
” State Policies on Later-Term Abortions “. 2009. Guttmacher Institute. Web.
“Unequal Access to Abortion”. National Abortion Federation. 2009. Web.
McBride, Dorothy E. Abortion in the United States : A Reference Handbook. Contemporary World Issues. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2008. Print.