Long understood as an extremely personal issue and procedure, abortion has more and more become a matter of public and political debate. The fact that the Supreme Court legalized abortion in America in 1973 and hundreds of thousands of abortions are performed in the U.S. each year has done little to quell the debate. On the contrary, since Donald Trump – an opponent of abortion – was elected, legislators in more and more states are introducing more restrictive abortion laws that openly challenge the legality of abortion. Given that anti-abortion laws are seemingly sweeping the US, one wonders whether the country is moving in the right direction, or should abortion remain a viable option for women with unwanted pregnancies?
Here are three arguments in favor of abortion, and three arguments against it.
Three reasons abortion should be an option:
Making an adult decision
It is the parents’ responsibility to love, care and provide for their children – those already in the world and those yet to be born. But, if she knows there is no way for her to give her child the physical, emotional and financial sustenance he or she needs to survive and thrive, it is the mother’s right and obligation to make a very adult decision. This includes taking responsibility and preventing the unborn child from having a life of pain, suffering, sadness and neglect. It is far easier to continue with a pregnancy than it is to supply a living child with everything he or she requires. In fact, it is more responsible in such a case, and especially in cases of rape, to terminate the pregnancy than it would be to remain with child.
Legislation = safety
When any act or substance is declared illegal, taking part in it becomes inherently riskier and more unsafe for all parties involved. The fact is, whether abortion is a legal option will not alter women’s attempts to end unwanted or dangerous pregnancies by any means possible. The only difference is that legalizing abortion would enable women to do so safely, hygienically and with the least amount of risk to the woman and her fertile future. Legal restrictions lead women to attempt termination on their own or seek out the help of an unskilled service provider.
Women’s right to reproductive choice is supported by many religious groups
While many Americans assume that abortion negates religious tenets, Rev. Harry Knox, President of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), has explained that many religious groups are officially pro-choice. Despite interpretations of the bible indicating that abortion is forbidden, the holy texts themselves contain no direct prohibitions against termination. Abortion is not likened to homicide in any religious scripture.
“Part of the conversation is not getting out there in this country,” Knox explained in an interview with ThinkProgress. “For too long, the extreme Religious Right has dominated the public conversation about religion and sexuality. But the truth is that most people of faith, like the majority of Americans overall, support access to contraception, comprehensive sexuality education, and reproductive health care — including abortion.”
The RCRC is an interfaith movement that works to protect and advance reproductive health, choice, rights and justice through education, advocacy and spiritual guidance, and they are not alone.
Three reasons to say no to abortion:
Potential for life
Whether or not you believe a fetus is already a life, it is undeniable that once conception occurs, potential for life exists. Life is our strongest biological and psychological instinct, serving as the foundation for Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In a world of uncertainties, the pursuit of life is the only definite. Putting a deliberate end to life goes against our biological and physical existence. Who are we to play God and decide what constitutes life or who deserves to live and die? Who are we to take charge of the future of a totally dependent unborn child and determine that his or her life is not worth living, no matter the circumstances?
Can lead to further medical complications
Women who undergo abortions can experience medical complications later on in life. A study published in 2003 by the International Journal of Epidemiology estimated that roughly 15% of spontaneous miscarriages taking place during the first trimester of pregnancy occur in women who previously underwent induced abortion. An abortion can also double the risk of ectopic pregnancies and can increase the prevalence of pelvic inflammatory disease and the incidence of breast cancer.
Legalized abortion must not take the place of birth control use
Any time a couple engages in sexual intercourse, there is a chance of conception, even with regular contraceptive use. In England for instance, more than half of the women who had abortions at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service were using at least one form of birth control at the time of contraception. In fact, 18 out of every 100 women using condoms (82% effective) as their only method of contraception will become pregnant during the first year of use. While most women don’t view abortion as a method of birth control, it does occur. (In other countries, such as in Russia, it is even more common than people think.) True, pregnancies are no walk in the park. They involve hormonal and physiological change, putting undue strain on the women’s body, sometimes irreversibly. Preventing conception is one thing, but it is immoral to terminate a pregnancy for convenience’s sake, especially since there are ways to prevent pregnancies in the first place. While birth control is always preferred to relying on abortions, the former is not 100% effective.
The Bottom Line: Whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life, religious or secular, rich or poor, never want to have children or can’t imagine life without them, abortion is a deeply personal matter that is also subject to public debate. What’s your perspective on this extremely hot topic? Would you support a friend who wanted to have an abortion?
Explore further the Abortion Debate in our unique subjective timeline about Roe Vs Wade and the origin of the abortion debate