Monday, November 28, 2005


Original Chimes Article Here

Pro-choice is not pro-abortion

[ see also Human life begins at conception ]

It is with a tired attitude that most writers now approach the issue of abortion. After being a controversial topic for the past 30 years, what is left to say that has not been said already? You have heard all the arguments; if you are not already convinced of one position or another, who am I to think my rhetoric will win you over?

However, as protesters on both sides have recently been in the news once again, I would like to explain why I am pro-choice.

Perhaps the biggest fallacy of the pro-life movement is equating pro-choice with pro-abortion. I am not going to deny that abortion is sketchy moral territory. The fundamental principle behind pro-choice is not that abortion is okay, but that a woman should have legal authority over what happens to her own body.

The decision over whether or not a woman should carry a child to term is not a decision that should be made by society. It is a personal choice, and should be made by the woman in question. To ask a woman to go through nine months of pregnancy is no light request.

Planned Parenthood states strongly that, “There can be no more extreme invasion of privacy than requiring a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. If government is permitted to compel a woman to bear a child, where will government stop? The concept is morally repugnant. It violates traditional American ideas of individual rights and freedoms.”

We cannot fight abortion by making it illegal. In every case where a society has outlawed abortions, the practice has continued illegally. In the United States, for example, before abortion was legalized, some estimate that illegal abortions were as high as 1.2 million annually. If done legally and correctly, abortion is 11 times safer then giving birth.

However, illegal abortions are much more dangerous. It is roughly estimated that in the two decades before legalized abortion, thousands of women died and ten of thousands were mutilated by botched illegal abortions.

Making abortion illegal is also discriminatory towards the poor. The rich can travel wherever is necessary to obtain a safe legal abortion, while the poor are forced to resort to back alley abortions.

If abortion cannot be combated by making it illegal, what can be done?

The first answer is to try to create an atmosphere in which abortion is unnecessary. Contraceptives should be provided to those who are sexually active and there should be an increased education effort to inform young people on how to use these contraceptives. However, since contraceptives can and do fail, this is only part of the solution.

The second answer is to try to make abortion less desirable. This is done by helping a mother provide for a child once it is born. Planned Parenthood cynically notes the irony of many on the religious right, who on the one hand fight against legalized abortion, while at the same time fight against health and nutrition programs for these children once they are born: “The anti-abortion groups seem to believe life begins at conception, but it ends at birth.”

Finally, much of pro-life rhetoric portrays a woman having an abortion as someone who simply does not want to be inconvenienced by having a baby. In fact, only 20 percent of abortions occur as a form of birth control.

The other 80 percent deal with more complicating factors. For example, in many cases, the woman’s health is at risk. Sometimes the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. In other cases the fetus is severely deformed.

The abortion debate is not quite as simple as slogans on both sides have made it out to be. We need to keep abortion legal so that women in these situations will have help.

We can not legislate abortion away -- it is here to stay whether it occurs legally or illegally. Abortion should, therefore, be kept safe and legal.

No comments: