Group A’s Consultation On The Matter of Abortion
Michaela F Balder
Group A’s Consultation On The Matter of Abortion
There has been an ongoing controversy over the issue of abortion before and since its legalization through the Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973. The Roe v. Wade ruling was made after more than a year of deliberation and states that “the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy” (Cornell). Based on the phrasing of this ruling, for the sake of this essay, we will be referring to the act of receiving a surgery or procedure that result in the loss of pregnancy as an “abortion”.
deceptively easily defined term disguises the ongoing, heated debate of abortion
In order to examine abortion and come to a reasonable conclusion as to what further course of action to take, one must understand the causes and history surrounding it and the viewpoints of both sides of the argument.
The issue of
abortion started to come to the attention of both the future opponents and
proponents of abortion through the Supreme Court case, Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965. (Garrow
1) This case legalized the use of contraception for married couples in the
A year after
Eisenstadt v. Baird, in 1973, a
pregnant, unmarried woman, “Jane Roe,”
“constitutionality of the
On the same
day, a case called Doe v. Bolton
echoed the ruling of the more famous Roe v. Wade case, stating that the
conditions required for an abortion in
Abortion has been a widespread and ongoing practice both when it wasn’t legal and today. Quindlen writes that “one national conference held in 1955 put the number of illegal abortions each year somewhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million. The list of methods was long and various: […] Lysol, pencils and garden hoses, slippery elm [etc.].” Legalizing abortion was, in hindsight, better for the health of women. They are no longer forced to carry out such a dangerous operation in secret.
advancements in the legalization of abortion were curbed by Planned Parenthood of Southern Pennsylvania
v. Casey in 1992, which affirmed the legality of abortion but deemed
restrictions on abortion set forth by
that a woman seeking an abortion give her informed consent prior to the procedure, and specifies that she be provided with certain information at least 24 hours before the abortion is performed; […] mandates the informed consent of one parent for a minor to obtain an abortion, but provides a judicial bypass procedure; […] defines a “medical emergency” that will excuse compliance with the foregoing requirements; […] impose certain reporting requirements on facilities providing abortion services (Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey).
Now that we
understand how abortion became legalized and used in the
Flaws and Circumstance
According to the Political
Research Quarterly of December 2003, a major issue in the abortion debate is
under what circumstances abortion should be allowed, if any at all. The General Social Survey, one of two
major surveys in the
· when the mother’s health is in danger
· when the pregnancy is a result of sexual assault
· when a single pregnant woman does not want to get married
· when a married couple does not desire any more children and
· when a family does not have enough money for additional children.
· when the fetus is severely defective
The same questions have been asked in the survey since 1972 ((Jelen 489-401). A similar study was done in 2004 on 1,209 abortion patients, examining the various reasons for their abortions. Seventy-four percent said that “having a child would interfere with a woman's education, work or ability to care for dependents,” seventy-three percent said that “[they] could not afford a baby now,” and forty-eight percent said that they “did not want to be a single mother or [were] having relationship problems.” About one-third were not ready to be mothers (Dauphinee et al. 110-119). The General Social Survey tries to ask questions that are as relevant as possible to the general public’s attitudes about abortion, in order to gain realistic data. However, we can see that the reasons women have abortions today versus the situations in which they believe abortion should be allowed varies greatly. Although many of the Social Survey’s questions relate to situations protecting the health of the mother and prospective baby or the financial status of the rest of the family, a large percentage of the reasons why women receive abortions does not relate to these. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the two most common reasons for receiving an abortion were personal financial troubles and that the woman was not ready, for whatever reason, to become a parent. Only three percent of women received abortions due to complications with the fetus, another three percent due to the woman’s heath problems, and only one percent of abortions were because of a pregnancy that occurred due to rape or incest (Dauphinee et al. 110-119).
Though the reasons as to why abortions take place varies, the bottom line is that people are getting pregnant. Pregnancies imply that sex has taken place and that is the root of our problem with abortion. Humans take delight in sex and no matter what is said, people, especially teenagers, will engage in sexual intercourse outside of marriage. If this development cannot be halted, then a solution or remedy of some sort is crucial. One suggestion we provide is the simple gift of knowledge.
Sex education has been a major aspect in the prevention of unexpected pregnancies. It has been a vital part of the educational system for years, promoting safer sex and practical ways to prevent the spread of STDs. With the steady rise in adolescent sexual activity, these lessons are becoming more influential with this new generation of young people. So why is it that lessons on condom use, contraception, and options for healthcare are being cut from the curriculum when they are only becoming more and more necessary? In his last presidential campaign, President Bush promoted abstinence-only education in our school systems. ‘Abstinence-only’ education is one that does not deal with contraceptives, ‘safe sex’ methods or STI’s. Being religious, he is, like many pro-life supporters, against premarital sex and believes that the current sex education programs are the government’s way of condoning that act and Bush intends to remedy that. With a strong conservative backing and national funding, his programs are in action nationwide. However, this policy has been statistically proven to be ineffective in the reduction of teenage sexual activity, unintended pregnancies, or the spreading of STDs in adolescents (Ketting).
However, statistics have continually shown that women who took a sex education class have sex later than those who did not. Also, out of those women who partook in a sex education class and had sex, utilized some form of contraception 73% of the time whereas those who didn’t utilized contraception 64% of the time (Marsiglio). In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, abstinence groups reported similar rates of sexual activity as those who were enrolled in sex education classes. However, people who learned about effective contraception utilized it more frequently (Dailard). Not only does sex education give adolescents a comprehensive coverage of sex, but also conveys it as a natural occurrence that should be taken seriously. It also teaches abortion as an option for unexpected pregnancies, whereas abstinence teaching has no mention of it.
Because sex education promotes sexual activity in teenagers, though only slightly, abstinence supporters believe they need to curb these tendencies (Marsiglio). In 1981, the Adult Family Life Act was passed to promote abstinence-only teaching. However, it wasn’t controlled well and the program varied greatly from school to school (Stahler). Teachers scared students into believing that sex before marriage has many harmful social, psychological, and physical consequences. Often skewing medical information and exaggerating statistics on STDs, abstinence-only teachings suggest that disease and moral condemnation are inevitable consequences of premarital sexual activity. Advocates of abstinence also believe that the idea of teaching students about sex, disease prevention, and pregnancy only instills the idea that it is acceptable to partake in these activities. Their attempts to stop adolescent sex are encouraged through statistics showing that about 65% of STDs are contracted in people less than 24 years of age and that 25% of HIV infections occur in people who are less than 22 (Masland).
combined effort to teach abstinence values and sex education seems like a
sensible plan, the majority of teachers in the
Providing a value-based education while accounting for the reality of today’s society, where more than 80% of women and 95% of men have sex by the age of 24, sex education clearly provides an unrealistic tactic towards the prevention of abortions and other health issues related with unsafe sex (Marsiglio). With people being more active sexually, it is only reasonable that many of them advocate abortion.
Right of the Woman
For millions of
Also, for many women, abortion isn’t a selfish option to end a potential child’s life. For those living in poverty and destitution, abortion prevents a child from entering a world of suffering and further poverty. In some cases, some women may argue that household strife may arise and the unintended child may not be as “loved” or taken care of as one conceived in an appropriate setting (Luker). Rather than bringing a child out into the world and having he/she be miserable, pro-choice advocates believe that it would be better to end it in the womb.
But of course, to every side, there is an opposite viewpoint.
Right of the Child
People who support pro-life believe that the fetus within a woman is a baby and a human being deserving of rights. Many of the supporters come from religious backgrounds and agree that a potential life in the womb is already a life. One anti-abortion group, National Right to Life, defines abortion as the ending of a “pregnancy by destroying and removing the developing child.” They believe that a baby’s heart begins to beat from the moment the woman misses her period, and that the baby has limbs and brainwaves within 40 days (Abortion: Medical Facts). Hence, the belief is that performing an abortion after this point (when most abortions occur) is killing a human being.
Some anti-abortionists are completely secular and see their reasoning against abortion as philosophical as opposed to religious. One such group, Libertarians for Life, focuses on two key aspects – “personhood (what "person" means, and why all unborn children are persons)” and “parental obligation.” They believe that all people have the right to what they call “nonaggression”: from the point of conception until death, all people have the right to live. Even in the case of rape, the baby still has the right to life, parental care, and protection. Although abortion is often emphasized as an action a woman decides for her own body, those against abortion see it as murder (Some Information on LFL). These radical viewpoints exponentially increase the level of difficulty in finding a solution to the problem of abortion.
Example of Countries Overseas
Other nations with similar
economic backgrounds have dealt with the issue of abortion in several different
In an effort to curb the rapidly growing population, the
Any proposal to solve this issue of abortion will cause great social unrest with a number of people. A solution leaning too much towards the left or the right will enrage the other side while a middle compromise will anger both and pacify neither. However, in the interest of the future of our country, we propose to promote education rather than try to wrestle with the actual act of abortion.
Our research and studies have shown that knowledge of contraceptives and safe sex greatly improved the chances of a women not getting pregnant. Perhaps through this course of action, we will be able to protect women’s right and children.
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