Abortion has been a contentious issue over time. The abortion issue has generated a lot of debate in the public. This has led individuals to pitch their tent with the two different standpoints – the pro-life group and the pro-choice group. The two standpoints have become established over time as both groups have various arguments for their standpoint. Abortion, as an issue, has caused an exclusive two-opinion movement which either stands for, or is against abortion. Either group pushes forward an argument to either support the act or condemn it in its totality. Abortion as an issue has been so much politicized that the ordeal or situation of the individual going through this experience is often ignored at the expense of the larger political or ideological consequence of the action. I believe that abortion should be viewed in the context of the private individual, rather than viewing it from the perspective of an illicit act performed by a segment of people / women. For the sake of this essay, I will be taking the pro-choice standpoint. The reason for my standpoint is not farfetched. I view abortion as a process on which an individual should have a final decision. I am of the opinion that abortion as an issue should be left for the individual to decide if they want or not. Totally abolishing the choice either to have abortion or not, by the promulgation of a law against it would invariably lead to the restriction of choices that individuals have over their lives. Abortion is also often viewed in the context of an act that a woman performs because she has the whim and caprice to do so. However, looking at the broader picture, one would realize that abortion can really become an issue that goes beyond the woman alone. It can reverberate to affect the fortunes of a whole family even if one seeks to look beyond the effect it would have on the individual seeking to procure the act alone.
The pro-choice standpoint is of the opinion that woman should have total control over the choice to have an abortion or not. The reason is not far-fetched: the woman knows what she is going through in the context of her situation and is in the best position to take a personal decision on the issue. I believe that this choice should not be taken away from the individual.
Opponents of the pro-choice standpoint often put forward the argument that abortion is an unsafe practice that leads to a variety of complications to the mother’s health and can cause significant morbidity and even a loss of the woman’s life. This argument would have held water had it been put forward in the 18th, 19th or even the early 20th century. However, the Roe v Wade decision in 1973 de-criminalized abortion and declared the Texas abortion laws as unconstitutional and invariably declared the law as void and vague. The judges also held that the law infringed on the ninth and fourteenth amendment of the constitution of the United States (Case Brief Summary, 2013). However, after this ruling, a number of legislation have been put forward which made abortion legal. This has led to the safety of the procedure. As of today, abortion is a totally safe medical procedure when it is performed in the first trimester of pregnancy which corresponds to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The procedure is carried out by physicians who are equipped with the knowledge of the procedure. Doctors also continue to research into ways of making the procedure safer and less stress free for the woman. With this, abortion has become a relatively safe medical procedure which any woman can undergo with little or no fear for any adverse medical outcome. Therefore the argument put forward by pro-life proponents does not hold water any longer. Therefore it can be assumed that as long as abortion is kept legal, it will remain a safe option for women who desire it.
It is also pertinent to mention that prior to the period when abortion was de-criminalized; a lot of women were having adverse health outcomes because they procured abortion at an unsafe location. This action led to the development of complication that even led to the death of a lot of women. Therefore, one should realize that whether abortion is legalized or not, a lot of women choose the procedure. However, abortion being criminalized has been associated with adverse health outcomes for women. Therefore, I believe that de-criminalizing it would reduce the number of women that would have developed complications from abortion if they had procured it from a health care professional who knows how to deal with the situation.
Abortion has also been stigmatized as a valid contraceptive option by the opponents of the act. However, the fact remains that the number of pregnancies that are not planned needs to be reduced. There is no rational reason why abortion should be singled out as an invalid or undesirable method of contraception just because some people feel that it is morally wrong. There are other choices that a woman has once she has been caught in the web of an unplanned pregnancy. Childbirth and adoption are other choices. The woman should also be able to choose abortion as one of the options that she has to counter the undesirable pregnancy (WHO, 2005).
Another look at the implications of legislating against abortion would reveal that the government assumes that women cannot have the autonomy and dignity to take decisions personal to them. It should be notes that the ability to procure legal abortion is a critical action that women desire in order to live a dignified life. Honoring the choice that a woman makes means honoring their dignity. It also means acknowledging that women are capable of making intelligent decisions that have far-reaching consequences on their lives and the lives of their family. It is important to note that women deserve to be autonomous in making this decision; they do not need the government to impose a state-wide decision on them on how to go about their lives. In fact, giving women the choice of taking a personal decision on abortion is tantamount to increasing their productivity in the society as they would be able to plan their lives effectively. Restricting the choices of women by imposing choices which they do not want to take would no doubt be counterproductive.
In conclusion, I would submit that abortion as an issue would continue to be a contentious issue in the society. The fact that I have put forward some arguments in favor of abortion does not mean that another person would not put forward other arguments in its opposition. In my own view, there may never be a superior argument either in favor of, or in opposition to abortion. Nevertheless, I believe that more than the collective good; it is more important to take a look at the issue from the perspective of the individual woman, than looking at it as an act that women perform. The issue of abortion affects the woman primarily, but it indirectly affects other members of the society too. The woman’s spouse (either married or unmarried), her children and even the community at large can feel the effect of this singular act. I still believe that it is important to give the woman the choice to decide what is best for her, instead of the government making laws on behalf of the woman. I believe that the woman should be able to choose if she wants to procure abortion or not.
Tietze C & Henshaw SK (1986). Induced Abortion: A World Review, 1986. New York: The Guttmacher Institute, 1986.
WHO (2005). The World Health Report 2005 – Make every mother and child count. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2005.
MIT (2013). Pro Choice. Retrieved from http://web. mit. edu/pro-choice/www/facts. html on 7th August, 2013
Agresti J (2013)” Abortion Facts.” Just Facts, September 24, 2008. Revised 6/25/13. Retrieved on 8th August, 2013 from http://www. justfacts. com/abortion. asp