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The Debate Over Abortion and Planned Parenthood

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The right of a citizen to decide on termination of a pregnancy is a difficult subject to approach. It has repeatedly been a hot button topic in American politics and has been heavily debated for decades. The Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case of 1973 ruled that the decision to abort a fetus is protected by a woman’s right to privacy, and therefore a state cannot pass a law banning abortions. This form of law was ruled unconstitutional with the understanding that it directly violates the right to personal privacy that is established throughout the Bill of Rights (namely the first, fourth, fifth, and ninth) and in the fourteenth amendment. Due to this law, states can prohibit and regulate abortions – but they must leave exceptions as not to endanger the life or health of the pregnant woman. There’s much to say on either side of the abortion debate, and it comes down greatly to morality. Some people believe it is unethical to abort a fetus and that it should never be legal, seeing the termination of a fetus as equivalent to murder. To people who are pro-life and/or anti-abortion, they believe that the life of an unborn child begins at the moment of fertilization, when the two sex cells create a zygote. The humanness of this new organism is occasionally up for debate. The zygote has a completely unique genetic makeup, separate from the mother. They most typically believe that the decision to terminate a pregnancy, during any point of it, is the death of a complete and full human being.

Out of the 50 states, 21 of them have regulations that prohibit abortion following fetal viability. This is constitutional under the ruling of the previously mentioned Supreme Court case. In 22 states, the abortions are unconstitutionally limited at around 20-24 weeks, especially under the pretense that a fetus is capable of feeling pain 18-20 weeks after the formation of the zygote (Guttmacher Institute). The Silent No More Awareness Campaign, a Christian campaign whose goal is to publicize the pain of abortion, along with www.afterabortion.com, provide an interface for women to express their regret and the subsequent consequences of aborting their children. There are many women who have made testimonials on those pages, but in a study done at the University of California, San Francisco, it was found that half of the 667 women surveyed who had had abortions said it was difficult, but only 16% of them regretted the decision five years afterwards (Wilson). The opposing side, the pro-choice arguers, believe that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is the right of the woman who is pregnant. It is founded on the liberties of privacy and the freedom to decide not only if they want to start a family, but when to do it, how it is done, and who it is done with. It is typical of pro-choice activists to speak out about the value of the life of a woman – both in the sense that their life as a whole should never be put at risk in a way that can be helped, and in the sense of the quality of life that is sure to change following pregnancy and childbirth. A strong argument is that, medically, an unborn child is not a baby, but an embryo up until the end of the 10th week of pregnancy. Additionally, there is the fact that legal and accessible abortions are safe. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate in countries where they are prohibited or only available when saving the life of the mother is around 37/1,000 people. In countries that allow abortions at any point in the pregnancy or under more circumstances, the abortion rate is around 34/1,000 people (Amnesty International). This is a concerning fact to hear because if safe and legal abortions are not occurring, there is a risk of an unsafe termination of a pregnancy which is potentially fatal when performed on oneself or by an unqualified party, or when performed in an environment that doesn’t meet medical standards. 

I am personally pro-choice. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is the right of any woman carrying a child. It should be one they make themselves, not due to coercion by a partner or family. The value of a human life is unquantifiable- and, in my opinion, far greater than that of an unborn child. I feel that the absolute right to an abortion at any point in a pregnancy may not morally line up with some people’s beliefs, but that it is not the place of other people to make a decision that doesn’t impact them directly or indirectly. Men who impregnate women are capable of doing so without ever facing the consequences that women are faced with- the physical, emotional, and financial burden of carrying and raising an unwanted child. It hurts my heart to know that it has been ruled constitutional for women as far along as their third trimester to abort their children. I understand the value of that baby’s life – however, I also understand the right of that mother to have privacy in her healthcare and right to her body. It is preferable in my mind for a woman to terminate a pregnancy early on, such as during the first trimester, except for in the case of a new medical risk being posed if the pregnancy continues in later stages. 

Abortions should definitely not be banned or allowed only in the case of a life-threatening physical condition. Instead, there should be an understanding that pregnancy and raising a child can threaten the quality of life of a woman. In the case of sexual abuse or rape, for example, the presence of a child that is the result of the abuse could be triggering to a dangerous extent and endangers the mother’s mental health and overall wellbeing. Recently in politics it’s been seen that some pro-life advocates are barring access to abortion clinics and making it difficult for people to get the healthcare they are entitled to as Americans. This is especially seen with Planned Parenthood. This is something that really rubs me the wrong way. In this situation, the government would be directly impacting the rights of over a million Americans. Planned Parenthood is funded by government healthcare programs like Title X and Medicaid. Through these programs, four million people have access to family planning services at a reasonable cost. Of those people, approximately 38% of them are served by Planned Parenthood at locations nationwide. By restricting the access of those programs to Planned Parenthood, Americans would actively be denied the ability not only to receive abortions, but to access basic sex education, to go to counselling, to be given information on parenthood, to be tested for STDs and HIV, to receive birth control, to be vaccinated, to have PAP tests and well woman exams, to receive prenatal care, to access medications to prevent HIV, to undergo hormone replacement therapy and other transgender health services, to have vasectomies performed, and many other essential services for reproductive health and family planning (Planned Parenthood). These are all things that should be accessible, regardless of whether or not people morally agree with abortions. 

In conclusion, I believe that it is the right of a pregnant woman to decide how to go about with her pregnancy. She is the only one who is directly impacted by the decision she is making, no matter who else will attempt to pull the attention from that and let their own interest get involved. Women in relationships should of course have a conversation with their partner about the fate of the infant but, overall, it should be her choice and hers alone in the end. No one should be forced to have a child or to terminate it by anyone, and definitely shouldn’t have that right infringed upon by the government.                     

Works Cited

  • “‘Defunding’ Planned Parenthood, Defined.” Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc.
  • “Facts and Figures.” Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc.
  • “Fetal Development: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  • “Key Facts on Abortion.” Amnesty International, Amnesty International.
  • ‘Roe v. Wade.’ Oyez, www.oyez.org/cases/1971/70-18.
  • Schwarzwalder, Rob, and Cathy Ruse. “The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences.” FRC, Family Research Council.
  • State Policies in Brief: State Policies on Later Abortions. Guttmacher Institute, 1 Sept. 2015.
  • Wilson, Clare. “Most Women Don’t Regret Their Decision to Have an Abortion.” New Scientist, vol. 245, no. 3265, 18 Jan. 2020, p. 7., doi:10.1016/s0262-4079(20)30093-2.

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