Among the most divisive issues in American politics stands the question of abortion. Should women be allowed to make the decision to terminate a pregnancy? The different answers to that question have lead people to divide themselves into two groups, pro-life and pro-choice. After extensive research and thought, I have decided that I identify with the pro-life movement. In addition to showing my reasoning behind that decision, I hope to convince you that I am not only pro-life, but also “pro-choice” in the most moral and technical interpretation of the phrase.
In the years 1971 to 1973, the Supreme Court was faced with a question, “Does the Constitution embrace a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy by abortion?” The case became known as Roe v Wade, and has become a landmark case in American History. The result of the case has been described as the following, “The Court held that a woman’s right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy (recognized in Griswold v. Connecticut) protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision gave a woman total autonomy over the pregnancy during the first trimester and defined different levels of state interest for the second and third trimesters. As a result, the laws of 46 states were affected by the Court’s ruling.”
The reasoning behind the decision relied heavily on an idea known as “substantive due process” and has drawn heavy criticism from legal thinkers such at the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The reason it draws so much criticism from thinkers such as Scalia is that it is ultimately rooted in “living constitutionalism”. Living constitutionalism is a legal idea that treats the Constitution as if it is a living document that changes with the times. It stands in direct opposition to originalism and textualism, but that is another topic. The point is, Roe v Wade either stands or falls depending on Constitutional philosophy.
For those reasons, I support the overturning of Roe v Wade. This is not because I believe abortion is immoral, but because the argument does not stand when viewed from the perspective of an originalist. Should it be overturned, the issue of abortion will go back to the states, where I believe it should be.
Now that we have summarized the issue of abortion from a legal and judicial standpoint, we must discuss it from a moral standpoint. Is abortion moral? Is it justifiable to terminate a pregnancy regardless of circumstance? Is it okay to have an abortion if the child will be born into a less than ideal situation?
To answer those questions, we must first ask another question. When does life begin? Some say it begins at conception, some say it begins at implantation, some say it begins when the brain develops enough to generate a recognizable pattern on an EEG, some say it begins when the child could survive outside the womb, and some believe it begins at birth. With such differing views, how can we possibly know when life really begins?
Let me give a quick anecdote. I live near a park where a few swans have settled, so people are always there admiring the animals. One night a vandal broke in and smashed all the swan eggs. The public was outraged. People were disturbed and demanded justice. Why were they outraged? The answer is simple. The vandal may not have killed swans, but he killed the start of them. People do not agree on when life starts, but when an abortion occurs either a life or the start of one is ended.
Another fact that is crucial to the understanding of this issue is the fact that “Pain receptors are present throughout the unborn child’s entire body by no later than 16 weeks after fertilization, and nerves link these receptors to the brain’s thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks.” Evidence also shows that, “unborn babies at this age probably feel pain more intensely than adults”. Additional studies have also been done that show fetuses begin reacting to touch at eight weeks. If the fetus even has a chance of being pain capable, why do people subject them to abortion procedures? In the documentary 180, Ray Comfort compares abortion at any stage to demolishing a building without being 100% confident that there was no one inside.
At this point, many abortion supporters will be reciting their mantra, “My body! My choice!” While this four word phrase may sound catchy and appear to make sense, there are no facts to support it. First off, the unborn child has a different genetic code than the mother. Your body does not have a different genetic code. Second, the unborn child, in many cases, has a different blood type than the mother. Your body does not have different blood types. In fifty percent of pregnancies, the child is male. Your body does not have a different gender. In 2004, the United States passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. This Act made it possible to charge those who kill pregnant federal employees with double homicide. 38 individual states have similar laws. Killing your body alone will not lead to charges of double homicide. Randy Alcorn has pointed out, “A Chinese zygote implanted in a Swedish woman will always be Chinese, not Swedish, because his identity is based on his genetic code, not on that of the body in which he resides.” Your body does not have a different race. We could go on and on, because the facts continue to show that the unborn child is not a part of the body in which it resides. It is its own body.
Another question that always comes up concerns the issue of rape. What if a woman did not choose to conceive the child? Is that a justifiable reason to abort it? Many pro-life and sincere people disagree on this issue, and I do not wish to guilt or incriminate them. I respect their opinion, but I must ask the question, “Is it right to punish the child for the crime of the father?” I would also like to point out that only 0.3% of abortions in the United States are performed because the child was conceived as a result of rape. That statistic may be surprising, considering how disproportionately this argument is used.
I have also heard the objection, “What if the child grows up to have a bad life? What if he is neglected? Or what if he is disabled?” If logic like that is used, then why do we not look at it the other way? What if the child grows up to make a difference in society? It cannot be completely ruled out. What if the child is put up for adoption and is adopted by kind and loving parents? It is a strong possibility. What if the child is disabled, yet lives a happy and fulfilling life? Disability does not equal a miserable life. The contrary is actually true, most disabled people are joyful and bring joy to those around them, so why is it that many people insist on aborting them? These “what if” questions are simply based on emotion and a pessimistic outlook on life.
By far, one of the biggest arguments for the morality of abortion is the question, “What if the life of the mother is in jeopardy?” I would like to point out that these cases are extremely rare. Only 0.1% of abortions are performed because the life of the mother is at risk, while 98.3% are performed simply by choice. That being said, the 0.1% who do choose to terminate the pregnancy because their life is at risk would have been allowed to do so under the old state by state laws anyway.
In summation, we have seen both the legal and moral issues with abortion. We have seen that the main Supreme Court decision on abortion is based highly on legal philosophy, not fact. We have seen that abortion ends either a life or the start of one, often painfully. We have seen that the unborn child is not a part of the woman’s body, but merely resides in it and depends on it for life. Finally, we have seen that the percentages of abortions performed because of rape or risk of death are very small. I extremely recommend that the reader research the issue for himself or herself and come to his or her own conclusions. It is an issue that requires a lot of thought, because the stakes could not be higher.
All that being said, I would like to mention that I believe I am pro-choice as well as pro-life. Women have the right to choose whether to become pregnant or not (see the above statistics on what percentage of abortions are performed due to rape). Women have a choice right up until that child is conceived, then I believe the child should get a chance to make his or her own decisions in life. I believe that every being should have a chance at life, no matter how they came into existence. I believe in choice, and that is why I am pro-life.