An extremely personal issue and procedure, abortion has long been a matter of public discourse and political debate. Since the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe V. Wade in June 2022, today, 50 years after abortion was first legalized in America, the debate remains a loud and public one. Since 1973, hundreds of thousands of abortions have been performed each year in the US, though that’s been changing in recent years due to legislators’ previous restrictions in the lead-up to the anti-abortion laws, including a Texas court trying to outlaw nationwide access to FDA-approved abortion pills. One wonders whether the country is moving in the right direction, or whether abortion should be a viable option and constitutional right 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 a pregnant woman knows there is no way for her to give her child-to-be the physical, emotional and financial sustenance he or she needs to survive and thrive, or if the fetus is diagnosed with a life-limiting medical condition, many believe that 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 may be 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. Not to mention that a total ban on abortion – and access to FDA-approved abortion pills – could increase pregnancy-related deaths by up to 21% overall and 33% for Black women, according to a University of Colorado study.
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 there are religious groups that are officially pro-choice. Texas-based Rabbi Mara Nathan concurs, saying that the right to choose has always been a Jewish value. 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. “For too long, the extreme Religious Right has dominated the public conversation about religion and sexuality,” Knox explained in an interview with ThinkProgress. “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.”
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, the potential for life exists. Life is our strongest biological and psychological instinct, serving as the foundation for Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. To many, in a world of uncertainties, the pursuit of life is the only definite. Many people may argue that 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
As long as abortion is an option, and there’s easy access to the “Morning-After” pill, any couple engaging in sexual intercourse might not take regular contraceptive use seriously. And they should. While the majority of women don’t view abortion as a method of birth control, it does occur. 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 (though contraception use is not always 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