Abortion: A Position Paper

  • Category: Social Issues
  • Words: 1323
  • Grade: 93
The controversy of abortion in the United States is unique because there seems to be no grounds of compromise between two completely polar sides. That is mostly because either a living human is or isn't being killed. This is a case between life and liberty, but the ambivalence of the complexities of abortion make it hard to settle the two sides. There is much debate whether this is an action of life or death, and the difference is rather large. Yet both sides to the abortion dispute share a common goal: that abortions should become safer, and the number of abortions should decrease.
Abortion is defined as the inducing of premature delivery in order to destroy offspring. It is a chosen miscarriage. Within abortion there are many different questions. Does the constitution defend an individual's right to abortion? Does this include confidentiality? Is a developing fetus a being? Should the law allow abortions for rape or incest cases?
The constitution does allow abortion. The right to privacy and reproductive rights, although not directly mentioned in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, is an enumerated right. The Supreme Court Decision in 1973, Roe vs. Wade, legalized abortion in the first trimester. Since then, over 35 Million women have had legal abortions (Cozic/Tipp 53). In America, 24% of pregnancies end in abortion, and 41% of that is on teenagers. 88% of abortions are performed during the first trimester.
When a fetus is actually living is hard to define. Factually, the heart begins to beat after 18-25 days, but the brain function after 40 days. Some people claim you are a person directly after conception, while others believe that a grouping of 46 chromosomes does not make you a human, but a potential life. Whether or not they are a living human being depends on whether they are protected by the right to life.
Abortions for rape or incest victims is another controversial topic. Babies born of these acts are not intended at all, as the sexual act was forced and no contraception or precaution could be taken. Killing the babies from these actions is penalizing them for something they had no choice in the matter of.
This dispute is the link between two groups; Pro-Choice and Pro-Life. Naturally, each side is the absolute reversal of the other. That is why negotiation is so difficult.
Pro-Life, or "right to life", is the group that is against abortion. They are usually republicans, or conservatives. They claim human life begins at conception; thus making the fetus a person and elimination of such as that, manslaughter. The unborn are innocent, and deserve their right to life. The issue of abortion to them is one of civil rights- they believe all humans justify equality, even those that aren't born yet. In the case of rape or incest, they still believe the child should not be punished for a criminal's wrong doing.
Abortion is legal in our country, but Pro-Lifers hope to make an amendment that gives all living humans from conception until death equal protection under law. Pro-Life advocates also support Adoption, which they consider a positive alternative to pregnant women considering abortion.
A major foundation for the Pro-Life group is religion. Most are Christian, and believe the bible supports their views in several scriptures that basically say God knows and loves you from the moment you are conceived (Currie 28). Only about 24% of those who are highly religious support abortion. The less religious a person is, statistics say, the more likely they are to be pro-abortion (Benson/Herrmann 17).
The group that is pro-choice believes mostly in a woman's right to choose. These are mostly democrats, or liberals. They believe abortion is a personal choice, and this freedom is protected for all individuals. Their concern will abortions that making it illegal will pose more problems, such as a rise in "back alley" abortions, which are both unsterile and dangerous. Other concerns include self-abortions, such as the famed "coat hanger" technique, and the possibility always exists that the mother will kill the baby after its birth. This has happened several times with young mothers.
Pro-Choice believes fetuses are a "mass of tissue" (Wilke, 1) rather than a human being. Thus, they are denied personal rights to life and are subject to the choices their host, the mother and owner of the uterus, decides. Human Personhood begins later in the gestation or at birth. They also believe that every child born should be wanted, and reducing the number of unwanted children will untimately lower the abused children in this world. They also consider the fact that the nation is already overpopulated.
Making abortion illegal will not prevent it from happening, claim pro-choicers. This is true, as is the case with illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, etc. Just because they are illegal doesn't mean people still don't do them. The Pro-Choice group also worries about restricting abortion rights. In the cases of partial birth abortion, which occurs into the second and third trimester, they usually remain open. Once you start limiting abortion rights you are limiting a person's right to choose for themselves.
Pro-Choice supports the decision in Roe vs. Wade, and claims it has "saved enormous numbers of lives, improved women's health, and made for stronger families" (Currie 37). Before Roe vs. Wade, the estimated amount of illegal abortions was between 200,000 to a million. In 1995, over a million abortions were legalized: double the amount of legal in 1972.
I began researching this paper believing myself to be 100% pro-choice. Then I read many different articles about both sides of the conflict. Also, as an aside, I asked 16 of my friends, ages 14-19, what they felt about abortion and which side they were on. Most of them did not know which side to be considered on, because they were in the middle. They felt that every person should have the right to choose for themselves, but they believe that the act of abortion is wrong. Some of them were upset that some people rely on abortion as an escape for unprotected sex and its repercussions. After hearing many people proclaim their thoughts on abortion, and reading various literature on the topic, I found myself at the middle, too. I still believe every woman should have the freedom to govern her life and make her own decisions. Abortion should not be illegal- the result would be people doing it anyway, but in hazardous conditions. I would rather they have the procedure done by a licensed doctor or practioner. In the case of 3rd trimester abortions or partial birth, I believe they are only necessary if the health of the mother or child is risked. One important aspect of abortion that I think should be more prominent is education. Many people do not know a lot about the actual procedure of abortion, and I think anyone who is seriously considering one should be well informed on the process of abortion, as well as the other choices they can make.


Benson, John M. and Melissa J. Herrmann. "Right to Die or Right to Life?" Public Perspective. June/July 1999: Pages 15-19

Cozic, Charles and Stacey Tipp. Abortion: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press Inc., 2000.

Currie, Stephen. Abortion: An Opposing Viewpoints Digest. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1991.

Robinson, Bruce A. Abortion: All Sides to the Issue. 1996-2001. Ontario Consultants. October 22, 2001. www.religioustolerance.org.

Sherman, Scott. "Choosing Our Reproductive Rights". Newsday. September 30,2001. October 22, 2001. www.newsday.com.

Tribe, Laurence H. Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1990.

Wilke, Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Abortion Information You Can Use. 1998. Heritage House 76 Inc. October 25, 2001. www.abortionfacts.com.
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