Abortion is probably one of the most controversial debates not only in the United States, but also in other countries around the world. According to Ferree (71), abortion has been in existence for a very long time, used in Dynasties such as Late Han Dynasty as a form of birth control. Other than abortion, infanticide was also a common practice in these olden days, but it never raised controversy because the right to speech in these dictatorial kingdoms was limited. In the United States, a serious debate on the legality of abortion started following the ruling of the Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade in 1973 which was in favor of abortion (Hales 16). In fact, it held that abortion was a fundamental right of the mothers. A strong public debate began which was characterized by streets protests and heated arguments on the major media stations. While a section of the society strongly supported the ruling saying that women should be given a right to decide on whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, the other section was strongly opposed to this idea saying that it goes against the fundamental human rights. This essay seeks to delve into this debate and take a position over it.
Account of the Main Argument
There has been a heated debate over the issue of abortion in this country since the Supreme Court Ruling on Roe v. Wade in 1973. The debate has created a deep rift between two groups largely referred to as the pro-choice and the pro-life.
The proponents popularly referred to as the ‘pro-choice’, have based their arguments on the need to empower women in the society. According to Boonin (48), women should be given the decision to take actions they consider appropriate when it comes to carrying a pregnancy to term. A clear case is where one has been raped by unknown individuals or by a gang. The woman could not have planned to have a child, but due to a criminal act, she finds herself pregnant. Forcing such a woman to carry the pregnancy to term would be like subjecting her to slavery. She will be forced to carry the pregnancy to term against her will, and bear a child that reminds her of the ordeal she faced. This is a great torture that the modern-day women should not be subjected to.
Another factor that pro-choice proponents consider is a situation where a child is underage. It is possible to find a twelve-year old girl pregnant. Forcing a twelve-year old child to carry the pregnancy to term may not only affect her physically but also socially. At this age, the girl has not even reached a teenage. She cannot reason rationally, and most probably, she is still in school. The pregnancy will have a complete change in her life for the worse. She still depends on her parents not only for the material support but also for moral guidance. Life during the pregnancy and after giving birth may be so traumatizing that the child may lead her entire life with psychological problems (Boonin 53). Safe abortion is always done in the first trimester, and at this stage, the embryo is still a mass of cells. Terminating the development of the embryo to advanced stages will be more like using birth control pills. In case a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy at that early stage, it should not be considered an immoral or illegal action.
According to Hales (41), since the ruling on Roe v. Wade in 1973, there have been over 56 million legal abortions that have been recorded within the United States. There are millions of other cases that have not been recorded within this period. It means that 50 million lives have been lost within this duration. This should not be the case in a country where adoption is currently popular among many families. Anyone who feels that he or she is not ready to have a child but gets pregnant can choose to give out the child for adoption. For this reason, any woman with the capacity to carry pregnancy to term should give birth because the child can be taken care of by other members of the society. According to Hales (87), abortion has negative psychological and physiological impacts that may affect future pregnancies. For these reasons, it should be avoided at all costs.
Researcher’s Point of View
I consider abortion an issue that still remains controversial. I feel that unless there is a valid social or heal reasons justifying abortion, it should be avoided. For example, when a child is raped by a close relative or a gang and she survives but gets pregnant, there is a strong social ground for termination of the pregnancy at the earliest stage possible without even informing the child. Such a pregnancy may pose serious health problems to the child. It may also lead to a serious psychological trauma. The memory of the child, even if it is given away for adoption, will be a constant reminder of the evil act the little girl faced. Another case where abortion should be permitted is when the pregnancy poses health risks to the mother. It is not logical to put the life of a woman at risk simply because abortion is immoral. The mother has a moral right to life. Terminating the risky pregnancy gives her an opportunity to have safe pregnancies in the future. However, abortion on demand should be avoided on moral, but not legal grounds.
Reasons for Taking the View
I have taken this view because I believe that women in this society should be treated with respect. I believe that it is immoral trying to force a twelve-year old child to carry a pregnancy to terms. This is illogical reasoning that does not take into consideration some of the physiological and psychological consequences of such actions. I also believe that if a women is raped, it would be easier to deal with the trauma if the pregnancy is stopped within the soonest time possible, especially when the mother feels that it is the right thing to do. Sometimes normal Americans wonder why cases of homicide are common in the country. Such traumas are potential causes of such events. When the mother remembers the ordeal and then sees the child before her, especially if the child takes after the rapist, she may suffer mental breakdown. In such instances, the woman would attack the child viciously, thinking that she is attacking the man who raped her. Most of the attacks end in the death of the child and sometimes even the mother. I think the trauma of killing such a child is greater than that when one procures an abortion.
Possible Counter-Arguments to Researcher’s Point of View
I believe that both pro-choice and pro-life may criticize my position on abortion. The pro-choice may criticize the position that only a minor and a woman who has been raped should be permitted to procure an abortion. These proponents may prefer abortion on demand. On the other hand, the pro-life may have a problem with my position that women who have been raped and minors should be allowed to procure the abortion. They may also criticize my position that abortion should be a moral rather than a legal issue.
Response to the Counter-Arguments
To the pro-choice who may have a problem with my view, it is a fact that abortion comes with some form of trauma (Warnke 67). This trauma can be avoided by carrying pregnancy to term. My view was also guided by the need for all the members of the society to engage in responsible sexual behaviors. If a woman is not planning to get a child, there are numerous measures she can take to avoid a pregnancy. To the pro-choice, I believe that it would be punitive to force a twelve or eleven year old girl to carry the pregnancy to term. Not only will the girl be subjected to a possible death, but also psychological torture for her entire life if she is lucky enough to carry the pregnancy to term (Ferree 81). The reason why I believe that there should be moral and not legal structure is because of the number of lives lost when people try to procure abortions. The truth is that when a woman is fully convinced that she must procure an abortion, she will do it under any circumstance. The moral values stand a better chance of guiding her actions. The legal structures will only increase the cases of dangerous and unsafe abortions in the country (Haney 45).
Boonin, David. A Defense of Abortion. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.
Ferree, Myra M. Shaping Abortion Discourse: Democracy and the Public Sphere in Germany and the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.
Hales, Dianne R. An Invitation to Health. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.
Haney, Johannah. The Abortion Debate: Understanding the Issues. Berkeley Heights: Enslow Publishers, 2009. Print.
Warnke, Georgia. Legitimate Differences: Interpretation in the Abortion Controversy and Other Public Debates. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. Print.