Abortion And Birth - Freedom Of Choice Research Paper
Abortion depends solely on the mother’s decision
A perennial focus of discourse, abortion has long been disputed. Despite its legal status in many progressive nations, the question remains – is it ethical? People’s views fall into only two categories: pro-choice and pro-life. Pro-choice advocates reason that the decision to terminate a pregnancy can only be made by the mother and no other party should interfere. Additionally, they postulate that the fetus is not yet a live person and thus unable to express, feel, or reason. On the other hand, pro-life advocates argue that a fetus, while still in the womb, is live and a person nevertheless. They assert that abortion is equivalent to murder. The only reasonable and humane resolution, in my opinion, is to resort to freedom of choice, or pro-choice. Only the mother can decide whether or not she gets an abortion.
“Abortion is murder.” Pro-lifers unhesitatingly say when asked about abortion. Quite an illogical, unthinking overstatement, I say. Murder, in its legal context, is a premeditated killing of a human being, and a fetus, although technically live, does not share any other attributes with a fully-formed human being outside the womb. It is rather baffling and insensitive how a pro-lifer can muster the courage to dictate to a woman that she cannot terminate a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest. It is fair to say that pro-lifers are so concerned with the unborn fetus that they fail to consider the mother’s life and well-being – this callous perspective shows severe lack of empathy. To any woman, being pregnant from abuse is inexplicable torture. No woman in her right mind would carry a baby that is a constant reminder of a traumatic experience, let alone raise it. The burden is simply unbearable. Abortion is the only way to eradicate suffering and grief.
As expressed earlier, my personal belief is that the mother alone should decide whether or not to have an abortion. It must be realized that abortion, in all cases, is always the final course of action. There are plenty of plausible reasons. The decision to get an abortion might be due to the mother’s frail health – childbirth might cost the mother her own life. In cases where the mother is mentally and emotionally unfit, it leaves no doubt that if pregnancy is continued, the baby will suffer, during pregnancy and eventually after birth. In other cases, abortion is considered the only way to save a mother’s life after a serious complication has developed late into the pregnancy.
The toll on youths has to be considered as well. Not only is pregnancy physically hazardous to teenagers due to their physically undeveloped state, it could also negatively affect their future. Dropping out of school, depression, nervous breakdown, or worse, suicide, are frequent consequences of teen pregnancy. Teenagers are rarely fit to endure the emotional and psychological toll of pregnancy. Higher education, career, and comfortable life, most of the time become out of reach to teen parents. Teenagers are still children themselves. Continuing pregnancy is hard enough; raising a child is even worse because of the mother’s inability to provide the child a decent life. The pro-lifer may argue that the teenager should just continue pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption after birth. This argument is completely unsound – teenage pregnancy already poses health risks, risks are doubled if it is continued.
Abortion is also a tenable course of action when the mother is older. Pregnancy complications often develop when the mother is in her late 30s or 40s and risks do not involve the mother only – the unborn child is also affected irreversibly. From a medical standpoint, if the mother is afflicted with a serious condition, abortion is necessary. That is because even if the mother successfully recovers, the baby, because of the severity of its defects, will only be a torment to both itself and those who care for him. Most pro-lifers argue that if the mother is capable of getting pregnant then she must be able to shoulder the responsibility of raising the child. I would like to point out the two glaring flaws in that argument. First, a vast number of these older women planned their pregnancies and it just so occurred that their advanced age made it impossible for them to go through pregnancy without serious medical consequences. They did not foresee that their age would serve as a threat to their pregnancy. Secondly, in these situations, pregnancy only takes place because contraception failed – certainly not an impossibility.
Pro-lifers seem to be of the belief that abortion is such an easy decision. They miserably fail to realise that abortion, in almost all cases, is the final course of action after much thought; that abortion is the result of the absence or lack of choices, a by-product of circumstances that are far beyond their control (i.e. medical reasons, rape and incest, financial struggle, congenital defects). Abortion is an act of desperation, a last resort that women turn to when every seemingly viable option has failed.
Religious beliefs and the moral high ground. Putting it bluntly, pro-lifers who impose that abortion is murder simply lack critical thinking skills, and worse, empathy. If only it were possible for a pro-lifer to trade places with a pregnant woman contemplating abortion due to hopelessness, I am most certain that their perspective would mellow and change, and they would grow some empathy.
Worse and even more infuriating, many pro-lifers are men. Is this not sexism? Is this not an overt attempt to assert dominance over women? Who worse to decide on women’s reproductive health than men who will never come close to anything resembling unwanted pregnancy? I wish it to be a cardinal rule on deliberations regarding abortion that men be disallowed to voice out any opinions. Women and only women should be able to decide about their own reproductive health.
Statistics do not lie and so does the truth. Legal or illegal, abortions will always take place due to circumstances and reasons that are way beyond the mother’s control. Abortion-related maternal deaths were at their highest during the time when abortion was not yet legal. The landmark Roe vs Wade decision by the US Supreme Court in 1973 sparked a monumental progress in women’s rights. Since then, both abortion-related maternal deaths and abortion rates dropped significantly.
Reasons why women elect to undergo abortion are far-ranging. Sexual abuse, medical recommendation, psychological incapacity, financial instability, permanent defects in the baby are only some. A safe and legal choice must be available at all times to ensure that unwanted pregnancy can be terminated, to spare the unwanted child a life that offers grim prospects, and most importantly, to keep in check the physical and emotional well-being of women. Abortion itself is already an act of desperation and this should be recognized even more so now by the state. Abortion should depend solely on the mother. To make abortion illegal is to deprive women of a basic human right – the right to their own bodies and sexual privacy. To make abortion illegal is to strip women of their independence. It cannot be overstated – in the case of abortion, freedom of choice should be the rule.