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Pro-choice is a movement that is targeted but not limited to a woman’s right to have an abortion when she finds it necessary. This particular topic is a very pressing one, with millions of women worldwide being denied of their rights to have abortions and carry out their lives. It is especially hard for the pro-choice movement to make a widespread international impact due to its rival movement, Pro-life. Pro-life fights for the right of the fetus and is primarily fueled by religious beliefs. The topic will always be at debate but it is a woman’s concrete right that if she decides that she does not want to bear children, she does not have to be in a conflict with the law. The debate of whether having abortion is an ethical decision has been around since abortions came to exist, some even state that abortions are as old as pregnancy, thus the debate being as old as human life itself. The first recorded abortion was 4,000 years ago; herbalists would use concoctions containing pennyroyal to terminate the pregnancy. Now with the knowledge of it being such an aged medical procedure, it comes to question, why are abortions so controversial? Some argue that it is not a human’s right to terminate a pregnancy, that ending a life is not their choice – but there is also a debate as whether it is even a life to begin with (EFC). A wide variety of factors come to play when asking what truly makes a human. Unwanted pregnancies is the most mainstream reasoning for a woman to decide on having an abortion and the factors that make the pregnancy unwanted can range from the way they became with child to their age to socioeconomic reasons, the list goes on. Regardless, every reason is undoubtedly based on the individual, and every reason should undoubtedly be taken into consideration.
There is a multitude of countries that have legalized abortions in the event of rape (a shocking amount from third-world countries), that being because the law recognises that survivors of sexual assault do not have to go forth with a pregnancy that was almost entirely out of their control. Oftentimes, the requirements for getting an abortion in such situations include a doctor’s check-up that hunts for signs of trauma and psychological testing. The most recent dispute involving this particular subject has to do with Ecuador: one of very few countries in Latin America that have yet to decriminalize abortion as a result of rape. José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch is one of the activists trying to pass the law that permits abortions under such circumstances, Vivanco states that “Denying rape survivors the right to decide about whether to continue a pregnancy is cruel, and Ecuador should ensure that no woman or girl must continue a forced pregnancy against her wishes.”
Each year roughly one million girls between the ages of 15 to 19 get pregnant within the United States alone, this shocking number results in almost 600,000 births, 90% of which remain with the biological parents. Most teenage pregnancies are unintentional, with the innocent child left to be raised by immature and unprepared parents. Children of teenaged parents are more likely to have severely low birth weight, grow up in low-income households, score lower academically and, unfortunately, become teen parents themselves, repeating the vicious cycle.
Granted, growing up in a low-income household is not only reserved to the children of young parents. Grown adults who have already had children may find themselves in a dilemma as to whether they can afford another child; and if they make the conscious decision to terminate their pregnancy, the law has no place in the decision of adults who want what is best for the children they already have. Children of low-income families have worse health, cognitive abilities and social skills than those slightly richer families.
The reasoning behind a woman’s choice to have an abortion is based on every individual’s case, and if the laws that deny all women of this right will not be taken down, they should at the very least be more flexible towards the cases of women who truly do not have a choice at hand. It is unfortunate that developed countries such as Andorra, San Marino and even Malta are three of the twenty-six countries that do not permit abortion at any cost. There are a wide variety of possible complications that could occur during a pregnancy, resulting in the harming or possible death of the mother, fetus, or both. An ectopic pregnancy is a good example of why countries should at the very least allow an abortion when the mother’s life is at risk; with an ectopic pregnancy the egg is fertilized in the mother’s fallopian tube (which is about 0.5-1.2 cm wide) – if the fallopian ruptures, the fetus will not have any chance of surviving and the mother will undergo lethal bleeding. In such cases there is no true solution, and countries that do not permit abortions under any condition would not be sparing a life, but rather killing two.
83% of women who choose to get abortions are unmarried. It was only until September of 2018 that India overruled the law that stated adultery was a criminal offense. Other countries still fall behind on this, with Saudi Arabia being known worldwide for stoning women to death to this day, take the 2015 case of the unnamed Sri Lankan maid whom was accused of adultery. Granted, not all punishments are as gruesome as stoning for pregnant unmarried women in less developed countries, simply shunning the woman and denying her of respect are tactics taken upon by other societies.
A child’s disabilities are hardly ever skin-deep, and if they are able to be detected when the child is not even out of the womb, then they are destined to live hard lives. Alongside the 26 countries that do not permit abortions at all costs, 74 more do not allow them unless the woman’s life or physical health is at risk- but maintaining mental health is equally important, and raising a unexpectedly disabled child can be just as taxing. Thirty-one weeks into her pregnancy, Erika Christensen found out that her baby was nonviable (would not survive outside of the womb), and was furious to find the law of the region she lived in did not allow abortions in the state that she was in. Erika then flew to Colorado to go forth with what she knew was the right decision.
Autonomy, as defined by Cambridge English Dictionary, is “the ability to make your own decisions without being controlled by someone else”, in other words: self-governing. Women’s regaining their autonomy has been one of the biggest movements of the past hundred years. Giving women the opportunity to decide what they want for their own bodies is a vital point for gender equality and allowing women to achieve their full potential. Pro-choice women’s activists do no follow a nonchalant demeanour towards the foetus, on the contrary, women are well-aware of the responsibility that comes with having an abortion, but find it the best among the options of a series of unfitting actions they could do instead. The foetus is after all, part of the woman’s body and autonomy is primarily driven by women getting their bodies back (BBC). In the words of Margaret Sanger : “No woman can call herself who does not control her own body”.
Murder, as defined in Merriam Webster, is “the unlawful killing of a person especially with malice afterthought.” Abortion is not unlawful and therefore does not count as murder. Furthermore, the egg does not become fertilized until the third week and does not have a heartbeat until four to sometimes seven weeks. This indicates that the basic traits of existing do not show instantly, and the values that truly do make one human do not appear until after the child is born. Consciousness plays a key role here; language, intelligence, foresight, mind-reading culture, and morality are all factors that contribute to making a human, human- all of which are not present in a fertilized egg.
There is an unspoken of assumption that telling women they cannot have abortion will make them not have abortions. The recorded 1.2 million of cases of women dying from illegal abortions prior to Roe v. Wade (the 1973 law that granted women the access to safe, legal abortions) are proof enough. The infamous case of Elizabeth Zack Staley depicts the desperation women had to get abortions, the lengths they would go to, and the people harmed in doing so. Keeping abortions legal is not giving women a choice; it is protecting women from the choices that will result in irreversible harm.
An age-old argument used by pro-lifers states that a woman would eventually regret the choice she made. A study done in the years 2008-2010 combats that statement head-on; taking 667 women whom have had abortions ad asked them whether or not they regretted it- an astounding amount said they did not regret the decision. The researchers behind the study continued interviewing these women over a three-year period, looking for signs of “post-abortion traumatic syndrome”, remarkably, 95% of the women’s opinions on their decision had not changed- they did not regret it. The reasoning behind their lack of regret was their understanding of the reality that a having child at the given stage they were at within their lives was just not plausible and an abortion was the mature and overall healthier thing to do.
Abortion and adoption are two different possible ‘solutions’ to a mother whom is not ready to raise a child, but the latter is not always the better way to go. Adoptions are lengthy and often complicated; they also may come with emotional baggage for the birthmother, adoptive parent(s), and the adoptee. Abuse of trust, insecurity, changes of mind, pressure and instability are just a few problems faced by all three parties that greatly affect their well-being and mental health.
To conclude, the stigmas based on abortion can be easily shut down if the one aborting is aware of their decision. Approaching abortion as a case mortality vs life is a black and white picture of what in reality involves much more colour. Frederica Mathewes-Green once said: “No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” Allowing women to lawfully escape the feeling of sheer hopelessness would be the human race taking a step in the more humane direction.
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