The Legalization of Abortion: “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life” Camps

The subject of legal abortion has lead to a nationwide, often emotion-filled, debate that has endured for many years and will for many years to come. People are decidedly in either in the ‘pro-choice’ or ‘pro-life’ camp. There are no compromises to be negotiated: one concerned with the life of a child; the other, the freedom of choice and woman’s health. To properly analyze the issue, the opposing viewpoints including the moral, medical and legal aspects must be argued with equal resolve and without bias.

The abortion issue is multi-faceted and both sides of the issue provide credible, thought-provoking arguments. Only the individual can disseminate the information and make their own decision based on what they believe to be right but everyone should know both sides on equal terms so as to make the decision that is right for them.

“Pro-Choice’ activists espouse freedom of choice for women. However, those opposed to legal abortion argue there is little freedom of choice for women who are experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. The women themselves usually wish to bring their baby to full term. Other powerful influences in her life such as husbands/boyfriends, parents and friends are generally the forces that exact pressures on her to terminate the pregnancy. “Eight out of 10 women surveyed after abortion said they would have given birth if they’d had support and encouragement from family and friends” (Reardon, 2002). Legal abortion enables fathers to force their will on mothers.

Some women resort to abortion in desperation because they fear continued abuse. Immediately following an abortion, the one(s) coercing the decision are relieved and seldom, if ever, give the inconvenient issue another thought. Women, on the other hand, suffer long afterwards, racked by overwhelming guilt and agonizing over their irreversible decision. This pain may last a lifetime as they are never able to forgive themselves.

Those opposed to legal abortions are also in the same camp that opposes programs that aid the impoverished and abused children who are the result of unwanted pregnancies. They point to ‘Christian morals’ and ‘family values’ as justification for the loss of liberty, discrimination of the poor and the increased cases of injured women. The ideological divide will never be bridged but the debate whether abortion should be legal or not is a matter for the courts, as are all legal matters. This discussion considers the legal aspects of the abortion issue. The arguments for and against are significant in a social context yet inconsequential because they will not decide whether or not abortions remain safe and lawful.

The Roe v. Wade case, brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, resulted in the Court’s determination that women have the constitutional right to have an abortion prior to when the fetus is viable, meaning when it can survive on its own outside the woman’s womb. The decision invalidated any state law that restricted a woman to have an abortion or a doctor to perform an abortion during the first three months (first trimester) of a pregnancy.

It also restricted abortions during the second-trimester unless a woman’s health was in jeopardy (“Roe v. Wade”, 1997). Those that criticize the Roe decision have complained that the nation’s founders used general terms to frame the Constitution and did not intend for the ambiguous use of the word ‘rights’ to include the right to an abortion. They further propose that those who ratified the Constitution were ‘God fearing’ men who would have opposed the practice.

Even if this argument could be proved valid on a constitutional basis, the inference that the Founders were wholly opposed to the practice is probably inaccurate. A good deal of Justice Blackmon’s opinion regarding the Roe case was centered around the fact that prior to the latter part of the 1800’s, first trimester abortions were commonly allowable in the U.S. (Dorf, 2003).

Both sides of the abortion issue contain legal, ethical and social considerations that provoke great emotions as this paper has shown. It is important that those of each opinion understand the opposing viewpoint if they truly wish to debate the topic rather than simply insist that their own viewpoint is correct. Only in this way can the national debate proceed with any hopes of resolution. If both sides understand the issues of the other, the emotional aspect can be lessened and replaced with reasonable conversations.

References

Dorf, Michael D. (2003). “Was Roe v. Wade Rightly Decided? Will it be Overruled?CNN Law Center. Web.

Reardon, David C. (2002). “Aborted Women, Silent No More.” Springfield, IL: Acorn Books. pp. 11-21.

“Roe v. Wade: 1973.” (1997). Women’s Rights on Trial. 1st Ed. New York: Thompson Gale.