Top 10 Reasons Abortion Should be Legal
Abortion is one of the hottest topics debated in the world today. By definition, an abortion is the conclusion of a pregnancy through the removal of the fetus from the womb, which directly results in its death. There are many reasons why this can happen, ranging from spontaneous occurrences (miscarriages) and pregnancy complications to intentional termination. Naturally, as with anything that deals with life, abortion is a sensitive subject. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court declared abortion a “fundamental right” in Roe v. Wade. To this day, the debate over its validity as a practice encompasses arguments ranging from practical, moral, medical to religious aspects. The debate concerning the validity of abortion has two main sides, namely the pro-choice camp, which believes in the validity of an abortion, and the pro-life camp, which defends the right of the unborn and seeks to establish the invalidity of choice in an abortion. It’s a tough subject, but today we bring you some of the top 10 arguments in support of abortion.
10. “My Body, My Choice” – Women have the right to choose what to do with their body.
Every person has an inherent and undeniable right over their own bodies, and as such, it is their choice to do with it as they please. This notion forms the backbone for every argument relating to a person’s rights, such as the right to life and liberty, or the right to freedom of speech and expression. While we all have this inalienable right of choice, we also have to be responsible for the consequences of those choices. From a logical standpoint, however, whether a person is responsible or irresponsible for their actions doesn’t change the fact that they have the freedom to choose and act to begin with. In fact, the presence of the consequence reinforces this notion, because consequence can’t exist if without the natural right to choose. If we allow our inherent rights to be limited, we find ourselves on a very slippery slope. The suppression of this right may begin with abortion, but where will it end? Inherent rights are by nature, natural and unquestionable, and should be left unchallenged.
The infrastructure around us is designed to support and protect the rights of citizens. Hospitals do not tell you what to do with your body or act without your consent; they suggest courses of action based on medical practice and inform you of the consequences of each. Schools do not tell you what to study, but they provide a foundational base of learning to equip you with the tools in your desired profession. These prove that our society operates on the foundation of natural human rights. Why then should we restrict a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy when it is the same as her right to choose what school to go to, what medical procedure to undertake, what profession to pursue, or what opinions to express? It is her natural right regardless of whether anyone approves or disapproves of the outcome, to make that choice. In the same way, it is your right, regardless of whether or not I disagree or agree with you, to form your own opinions about these arguments. The bottom line of this argument is that the same thing that protects your right to do as you wish is the same thing that protects a woman’s natural right to choose what to do with her own body. In the end, we must remember that we live lives of dignity because our choices are protected by a society that recognizes our inalienable rights. The right to choose is paramount to our humanity, and it shouldn’t be denied.
9. Personhood begins when a fetus is viable.
Now that we have established the right of women to choose what to do with their bodies, what then of the fetus’ right to its own body? Many pro-life standpoints argue that when a woman chooses to have an abortion, she is committing the crime of restricting the right of the fetus over its own body. While this does sound compellingly correct, it has a few grey areas. The natural right to choose what to do with your body is tied to your personhood, a concept that is not absolutely black and white. A fetus is considered viable when it is able to live outside the woman’s uterus on its own. The concept of being “self-determining” comes into play. When we are capable of deciding on a course of action for ourselves, we have the right to pursue it even if it’s right or wrong, and we then have the responsibility of facing its consequences.
A fetus under 24 weeks old is incapable of self-determination, because it has not properly developed the necessary organs or systems to make this possible yet. This is different from saying that a fetus under 24 weeks is not alive. Life begins at conception, but personhood begins at self-determination. The embryo is considered the potential to be a person if the pregnancy is carried to full-term. If we considered it a person, then our birthdates would be upon conception, and artificial insemination, which involves numerous fertilized eggs thrown away, would be genocide! Plain and simple, a fetus under 24 weeks is not independent or self-determining, as it is reliant on the woman for survival.
8. Abortion supports the right to life.
While most arguments highlight abortion as the termination of life, they tend to be argued strictly focusing on the life of the unborn child. As with everything, there are elements around a pregnancy that can lead to complications for the woman. Not all women are given the gift of complication free pregnancies. Cases where complications in the pregnancy lead to significantly higher risk to the woman’s life are more frequent than we wish they would be. To deny a woman the option to abort a pregnancy when her own life is at risk is akin to forcing her to play Russian roulette.
No person, regardless of gender, should be denied the right to fight for his or her own life. Societies and laws are built around this very framework. Fanatics of the pro–life argument are sometimes so focused on the fetus that they put no value to the mother’s life and do not even consider the viability of the fetus. What if a doctor was faced with a situation where the fetus was not viable and if it were not aborted, the mother would die? While the decision will always be difficult, the decision is not ours to make, and as such we have no right to deny someone his or her own choice.
7. The right to abortion is critical to gender equality.
One of the most defining movements in the past century is that of gender equality. Like most social movements, gender equality arguments have foundations linked to equally serious issues of racial or social equality. Fundamentally, the argument is sound; society should not discriminate a person on an element for which he had no control over, and one cannot choose to be a man or woman, their race, or their social status. Each person has the fundamental right to life and all that it entails. Gender does have certain aspects that make the pursuit of a happy life different for each side, this we cannot deny. Because women are the childbearing gender, this presents certain challenges. While each challenge bears its own weight, the financial challenge is probably the most consistently felt and has the most clearly visible effect. Equality as a concept means that every person has the right, without restriction, to pursue the same things whatever they may be.
A woman cannot sincerely be considered to have equal standing in society if she does not at least have the choice to remove the challenges that will come with a pregnancy. Many corporations have faced criticism because women face much discrimination simply due to the fact that they bear children. Their likelihood of going on leave is higher due to this biological fact, but it is not right for companies to avoid hiring them just because of this. If we want to be able to say that we have no gender biases or gender discrimination, and man and woman have equal rights to pursue the life that they choose to pursue, women must have a choice. They must not have to deal with challenges but instead be given responsibilities upon choosing to become a mother. The choice to become a mother must in the very least be given to the woman. By failing to freely provide this, society also fails to support their fundamental rights, not as women, but as people.
6. Banning abortion risks illegal abortions.
Statistics shows that an estimated 49% of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. These numbers simply prove that the situations surrounding pregnancies are not limited to happy families who have planned and intentionally tried to have children. A large percentage is in fact unplanned for. Naturally, a woman or couple who face the situation of an unplanned pregnancy may not have the right circumstances to raise a child properly. Some cases even show that they are unable to financially or medically see the pregnancy to its full term. Regardless of the situation, of those 49% of pregnancies that are unintended, the percentage that is unwanted will be looking for ways to terminate the pregnancy. Prior to the recognition of this procedure and the modernization of medicine, back-alley abortions used to be via coat hangers, illegal or unregulated pharmaceutical products, knitting needles or a punch to the stomach. If there is no legal, viable alternative, this percentage of couples or mothers will inevitably have to resort to these back-alley operations, which are highly dangerous.
5. Modern medicine makes abortion is less of a risk.
Statistics estimate that the risk of death from an abortion is 0.6 in 100,000. The risk of death from childbirth is 14 times higher, at 8.8 in 100,000. In line with a woman’s right to life is also her right to mitigate the risk to her person. Advancements in the medical field have dramatically reduced complications from abortion, studies show that it is actually safer than carrying a pregnancy to full term.
It is estimated that in 1972 illegal abortions resulted in 39 maternal deaths, which occurred before abortion was legal. In 1976, after it was legalized in the United States, the number went down to 2. World Health Organization statistics estimate that in 2004 these back alley abortions caused an estimated 68,000 deaths globally. 68,000 deaths are 68,000 lives unable to reach their full potential because abortions were not legal and therefore not properly conducted. The state has a duty to protect its citizens; sometimes, protecting its citizens does not involve fighting wars but providing the infrastructure to safely conduct sound medical procedures.
4. Abortion gives women the option to minimize their child’s suffering.
Circumstantially, not every pregnancy is a bed of roses. Many have complications; some fetuses have severe disorders that can cause the child to live a very difficult and painful life. Some disorders can be so severe that death is guaranteed after a brief and painful life. Anencephaly, for example is a disorder where the brain is missing. Limb-body wall complex, a disorder where organs grow outside of the body, is equally as horrific, and yet it occurs. It is the woman’s right as a mother to decide what is best for her child. No weight of society or majority moral opinion of philosophers, religious or even state leaders have the right to decide for her. A mother’s right to decide to not put her child through that kind of suffering is her right and her right alone. To deny her a safe option to exercise that right is to deny her of that right in itself.
Remember, the consequences of pregnancy do not just end in childbirth. A woman has to undergo the physical pain and risks of childbirth and once born, she is emotionally, socially and financially tied to the child for the rest of the child’s life once born and vice versa. All the risks she faces are multiplied a hundred fold, and the child must face them as well. If the woman has health risks, the child must suffer through the pain. In many cultures, the woman’s stature in life or even the gender of the child puts the child in harm’s way. When we think of choice, it’s often from the standpoint of a regular situation. There are some cases where the odds for both mother and child are bleak, and this is when choice becomes a critical factor. If we remove this ability to choose, it may mean a life sentence for both of them.
3. Completely enforcing anti-abortion laws is impossible.
Having and raising a child is a significant decision. Ideally it involves proper preparation and planning. However as we have seen, this is not always the case with pregnancies. There still exists a significant amount of unwanted pregnancies, significant enough to merit high numbers of abortions in countries where it is legal, and high amounts of illegal abortions where it is illegal. This shows that unwanted pregnancies are an inescapable element of our society. Any form of anti-abortion law would then simply be impossible to completely enforce. Those that do not have the economic capability or the desire to see a pregnancy to its full term and raise a child will continue to seek illegal abortions long after it has been made illegal. Because of the risks of illegal abortions, the difference will be greatly felt in the mortality rate. These are productive lives; lives with potential denied their fulfillment because society tries to enforce something unenforceable. If anti-abortion laws are implemented, they may simply increase the number of poorly done abortions, and likewise increase the number of deaths.
2. Abortion is humane.
Studies show that fetuses do not feel pain when abortions are performed. Neuroscientists argue that because a cortex is critical for feeling pain, and the cortex is not yet functional when most abortions are performed, the fetus does not feel any pain. What is often mistaken for pain reactions is believed to be simply reflexes as the cortex only becomes functional on the 26th week of pregnancy. For healthy pregnancies, this makes abortion a humane option for whatever the reasons the mother may choose to undergo an abortion. This is especially true in the cases where the fetus will suffer greatly it is brought to full term. For pregnancies with complications, either threatening the mother’s life or complications that will guarantee the child’s suffering, abortion is a difficult choice, but a painless and humane solution.
1. Abortion is not a question of morality it is a question of providing options to prevent and mitigate risks in certain circumstances.
Finally, most proponents of pro-life will argue based on issues of morality or ethics. True, terminating life will always be morally wrong even if it can be argued valid. The issue with abortion is not a moral one, however. If it were, then wars and various elements of the criminal justice system and state security laws should be made illegal as well. And yet, these things are constantly present in the modern world as they have been historically, because they account for circumstances that validate an act that may be morally wrong. Abortion is a prime example of this. It is not a question of morality, it is a question of standing by a person’s inherent right to choose, their right to life and safety, and even to their right to choose a humane death for a loved one. It cannot be rejected simply because it is morally wrong, instead it must be viewed as an option that mitigates circumstantial risks, preserves life, and provides a humane way to end guaranteed suffering.
What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments. And for the opposite take, please read ListLand.com’s Top 10 Reasons Abortion Should Be Illegal.