Ongoing Debate Around Abortion: Pro-Life Perception
Our great country, the sought after, ever-growing, United States of America. A country bound by laws founded upon morality, justice, and the Holy Bible. Our morality is established in law, famously scribed in the United States Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution states, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Law Cornell). The debate between Pro-life and Pro-choice has long been a contentious one. The severity of belief on both sides of the aisle, has been divisibly separating our great nation in two. Yes, women’s reproductive choices empower them by awarding them control over their own bodies. However, is it justifiable that one human gets to choose life or death for another human? As you continue to read, you will be enlightened by arguments from all angles. But, by the conclusion, you will undoubtedly realize that “abortion is not a matter of choice, it’s a matter of life and how we value it” (Illinois: Right to life).
In 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of recognizing a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling legalized abortion nationwide. Since then, pro-choice advocates have had to defend the ruling time and time again. Pro-choice supporters rest heavily on the mentality that the right to abortion is embedded in the equality of men and women. They believe, “When the right to abortion is endangered, the fundamental equality of women is threatened. A woman can never be equal if she is denied the basic right to make decisions for herself and her family”. This argument corresponds with the thought process that women should be able to decide when or if they want a child, even after they become pregnant. Many women simply do not want children. Many women want to focus on their careers and relationships, rather than children.
If you believe in pro-choice, you believe that a woman can make the decision to kill her unborn baby without any reasoning other than she didn’t want it. The problem with this thinking, is that she isn’t deciding about buying a sweater. This is a human life, and “our value as humans isn’t derived from an external circumstance such as desire. We are valuable because of our intrinsic nature as human beings”. Additionally, pro-choice laws do not legally demand the father of the baby be given a decision. How is it lawful to allow one “parent” to make a decision about the life or death of their child without involving the other parent, especially since it takes two “parents” to make the child? The reality is, most of our culture “legitimately devalues life in the womb — whether we’re conscious of it or not” (Human Coalition). We must not allow this thought process to continue. We most correct the view of the unborn child and equal his/her value to that of a child that has been given life.
Abortions are performed at variety of gestational weeks. Since “seventy-two percent of clinics offer abortions up to twelve weeks, twenty-five percent up to twenty weeks and ten percent up to twenty-four weeks” (Gutter), it is only logical to wonder when fetuses feel pain. When the Charlotte Lozier Institute discussed “The Science of Fetal pain”, they established, “Embryological development shows presence of pain sensory mechanisms and neurophysiology. The basic anatomical organization of the human nervous system is established by six weeks. The earliest neurons in the cortical brain (the part responsible for thinking, memory, and other higher functions) are established starting at six weeks. Nerve synapses for spinal reflex are in place by ten weeks. Sensory receptors for pain (nociception) develop first around the mouth at seven weeks and are present throughout the skin and mucosal surfaces by twenty weeks. Connections between the spinal cord and the thalamus (which functions in pain perception in fetuses as well as in adults) are relatively complete by twenty weeks” (Lozier Instistute). According to statistics listed by the Center for Disease control, about eight percent of abortions are carried out between fourteen- and twenty-weeks’ gestation. Anatomically, pain receptors are present and flawlessly functioning during this popular abortion time period. “Dr. Paul Ranalli, a neurologist at the University of Toronto, states twenty weeks is a “uniquely vulnerable time, since the pain system is fully established, yet the higher-level pain-modifying system has barely begun to develop. As a result, unborn babies at this age probably feel pain more intensely than adults”.
Then comes the people who hover in the middle of pro-choice and pro-life. For some, there seems to be this unclear area as to how to handle a pregnancy if the mother falls pregnant from a rape or incest. Unfortunately, most pro-lifers come to a difficult standstill with this type of challenging situation. The reason being that sexual assault and pregnancies is vastly misconstrued. “Typically, both sides of the debate accept the presumption that women with sexual assault pregnancies would want an abortion and that the abortion would in some way help them to recover from the assault. Thus, the pro-lifer is left in the uncomfortable position of arguing that the sanctity of life is more important than the needs of the sexual assault victim with whom everyone should rightly sympathize” (After Abortion). However, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found in the biggest study of pregnant rape victims ever done, that 75 to 85 percent chose against abortion and in favor the sanctity of life. This testimony alone should cause people to pause and reflect on the presumption that abortion is wanted or even best for sexual assault victims.
Pro-Choice advocates frequently use this rhetoric to pull at the heartstrings of the recipients on the other end. In actuality, “It’s interesting to note that rape and incest are arguably the most common objections used in support of the legalization of abortion, yet abortions due to rape and incest account for less than 1 percent of all abortions in the United States” (Human Coilation). In harsh reality, abortion will not take away the incestuous violation of any woman. In fact, in the case of incest, abortion actually helps protect the abuser by helping to hide his crime. By eliminating an unborn baby who was conceived by rape or incest only pushes the child, and not the abuser or rapist. What type of society lawfully punishes an unborn baby with death due to actions of its parents? Allowing abortions at any gestation, regardless or the circumstance of conception is responding to violence with violence, and that is profoundly immoral.
The attitude towards abortion is so flippant in our current society. As if abortion is as easy of a choice as what entrée should be ordered at a restaurant. Instead of owning up to actions and taking responsibility for the sexual choices that were made, abortion has become an “easy out”. In fact, abortion pills are not even under a prescription any longer, they are simply over the counter. As easily attainable as buying vitamins or Tylenol. Should the choice of killing an unborn child be so easily accessible? Planned Parenthood, an organization that prides itself on giving access to sexual and reproductive health, gives its readers links and resources to find the most affordable abortion option that fits their desires. Their website states, “Your local Planned Parenthood can give you more information about coverage in your state, or other funds that can help you pay for an abortion. Planned Parenthood works to give the services you need, whether or not you have insurance. If you’re worried about cost, call your local Planned Parenthood health center to see if they can connect you with health care that fits your budget” (Planned Parenthood).
Abortion may be a word that Planned Parenthood and multiple other sources just casually throws around. But, nowhere does the reader find the truth about the what the word abortion really means. “Abortion is when a pregnancy is ended so that it doesn’t result in the birth of a child. Sometimes it is called ‘termination of pregnancy’” (British Advisory Service). There are a few different types of abortions, and the graphic details should be plastered on every website and advertisement. There should be a realistic knowledge to what actually takes place during these various types of abortions.
First, there is what’s known as a “Medical Abortion” or the “abortion pill”. This is typically done during the early stages of pregnancy, up to ten weeks’ gestation. Taking this medication causes the woman to have an early miscarriage which has physical side effects involving heavy cramping, bleeding, pain, and large clotting. The second type of abortion is a surgical abortion. A surgical abortion can be done by Vacuum aspiration or a Dilation and Evacuation (D&E). The Vacuum aspiration is typically done up to fifteen weeks’ gestation. This procedure starts by the doctor Inject a numbing medicine (local anesthetic) in the cervix. Medicine for pain or sedation, in addition to the local anesthetic, may be given by mouth or through a vein (intravenously). Vasopressin, or a similar medicine that slows uterine bleeding, may be mixed with the local anesthetic to reduce blood loss. Then a tube that is pushed into the cervical canal, suctions the unborn baby from the uterus. As the unborn baby is being removed, the uterus begins to contract. This will make the woman feel heavy cramping, nausea, sweating and lightheaded. The tissue removed from the uterus during a vacuum aspiration procedure is examined to make sure that all of the tissue has been removed and the abortion is complete. In most cases, dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure (where a sharp surgical instrument clears tissue from the uterus) is needed after a vacuum aspiration if all of the unborn baby has not been removed. Thirdly, despite the fetus’s advanced development, the most common abortion used at twenty weeks’ gestation is the Dilation and Evacuation (D&E). “Sharp-edged instruments are used to grasp, twist, and tear the baby’s body into pieces. This continues until the child’s entire body is removed from the womb. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy describes the procedure saying, “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb.” (aaplog). A fourth option is called a Digoxin abortion. During this option, “a drug called digoxin is injected directly into the baby’s heart, giving the fetus a fatal heart attack. The dead baby is then removed from his or her mother by dismemberment” (aaplog).
After reading the actual meaning behind the overused word, it is still mind-blowing to comprehend how many women still choose to have abortions. According to World Health Organization, “every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day” (world of meters). In addition to those staggering numbers, in America, “where nearly half of pregnancies are unintended and four in ten of these are terminated by abortion, there are over 3,000 abortions per day. That means that twenty-two percent of all pregnancies in America end by the decision of abortion” (world of meters).
These numbers illicit the question, “Why?”. Why are so many women choosing abortion over options that could preserve life, such as adoption? Well, here are some disturbing facts that may lead us to an answer. According to the Center for Disease Control, “more than twenty-five percent of abortions are chemical, leaving seventy-five of abortions surgically completed. Of the women who chose abortion, forty-four percent have had at least one previous abortion. Eighty-six percent of these women were unmarried, while forty-one percent were younger than twenty-four years old. If these choices continue, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that by the age of forty- five, one fourth of American women will have had an abortion (focus on the family). The Guttmacher Institute further researched the reasoning behind these women’s choice. They found a few main reasons consistently that consistently came up. Women stated that “having a baby would dramatically interfere with their education, work or ability to care for their dependents, or they could not afford a baby at the time” (Guttmacher).
Although these reasons may have an ounce of validity, is there any reason valid enough to end a life? Pro-life advocates understand that every woman does not want to be a mother or raise a child. They even understand the fears, worries, and hardships that go along with having a family. But, the argument always finds its way back to the question, “Why not put the baby up for adoption?”. Dr. Brad Imler, President of America’s Pregnancy Helpline, confirms that in America, “there are approximately two million infertile couples waiting to adopt, many times regardless of the child’s medical problems such as Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, HIV infection or terminally ill” (Lifenews). There are a multitude of families who have trouble or are unable to conceive. There are families that want to expand and do so by way of adoption. Perhaps the best way to advocate for life, is to promote adoption. Because, “the inability to care for a baby is no excuse to kill her – just as the inability to care for a five-year-old is no excuse to kill him – we should work harder to paint an accurate picture of adoption for pregnant mothers” (Lifenews).
The next common argument for pro-choice believers encompasses the validity of when life begins. They believe that the fetus is just a “bunch of tissues”, lacking the resemblance of an infant, and isn’t alive until the baby is birthed from its mother. For instance, a popular Pro-Choice website states, “There is no scientific consensus as to when human life begins. It is a matter of philosophic opinion or religious belief. Human life is a continuum — sperm and eggs are also alive, and represent potential human beings, but virtually all sperm and eggs are wasted. Also, two-thirds of human conceptions are spontaneously aborted by nature” (The Prochoice Action Network).
Realistically, science cannot be manipulated by belief. The process in which a human is created doesn’t change simply because they believe women should have the right to decide if they want to kill their baby. In fact, science proves the process of human life begins like this: “About six days after fertilization of the egg, and multiple cell divisions later, the zygote has become a cluster of cells (now called a morula). It has traversed the mother’s fallopian tube and made its way into her uterus, where the process of implantation will then occur over the next four to five days. The various stages of development will continue to unfold until birth. Uterine implantation provides the ideal environmental mix for human development” (cite national review). The only ways to prevent a pregnancy from progressing is if drug or a device disrupts implantation, or the natural miscarriage process takes place.
Seemingly, Pro-abortionists decided a valid argument states a woman is pregnant with a bunch of tissue, and that tissue doesn’t even look like a baby until it is born, therefore life shouldn’t be acknowledged until then, either. Nevertheless, a Wisconsin Law professor thought it was essential to realize, “Admittedly, zygotes don’t look like humans. However, at the time of my grandfather’s death, he didn’t look much like his childhood pictures, and if we could have seen him as an embryo, he would have looked even less like the man he developed into. But his DNA was intact at fertilization and remained intact throughout his life. My ability to recognize him at various stages of his life did not determine whether or not he was alive. The same is true for prenatal life and postnatal life”.
As we dive further into the contentions of Pro-choice advocates, we find that they believe an unborn baby is simply part of the mother, therefore it has no individual rights of its own. “Embryos and fetuses are not independent, self-determining beings, and abortion is the termination of a pregnancy, not a baby” (Procon). Further details distinguish “a person’s age is calculated from birth date, not conception, and fetuses are not counted in the US Census”. The majority opinion in Roe v. Wade states that ‘the word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment [of the US Constitution], does not include the unborn.’ Because the baby is using the mother as its sole source of survival, that makes it unreasonable to consider its life valid until birth.
Therein lies the debate. At what point does life begin? When is it morally sound to refer to an embryo as a human? When does science state that life is viable? Dr. M. Matthew Roth, of Harvard University, said, “Life begins at conception. Each individual has a very neat beginning at conception. This is not a metaphysical contention; it is plain experimental evidence. If a fertilized egg is not by itself a full human being it could not become one, because nothing is added to it. That is, life begins when the sperm and egg get together at conception to form a full set of DNA, without which human life would not begin and progress, therefore, it is scientifically correct to say that individual human life begins at conception.’ He goes on to state that the unborn baby is physically different from the mother and a distinctly separate part forming in her body. Also, an unborn child often has a blood type different from that of the mother. If the differing blood types were to mix, one or both mother and child could die, further proving the separation of the two humans.
What about the sex of the baby? Half of all babies are male. Does this mean that during the pregnancy the mother becomes half male? While pregnant, should the mother now refer to herself as him along with her? There isn’t a gray area when it comes to the facts. Yes, the baby is living inside the mother and solely survives off the mother’s body. In fact, if the unborn child did not have the protection provided by the amniotic sac, he/she would be expelled from the mother’s body considered as a foreign object. Clearly, the baby and mother are two completely separate humans, entitling them both to the right of life.
As generations evolve, we can only hope that society’s value of life with resurface along with it. As we launch forward with technology and medical interventions to aid the staggering number of women who face infertility, we can counteract the choice of abortions by education of unborn babies’ life-saving options. Thankfully, there is still a stronghold of politicians who value the sanctity of life, and will continue to fight not only for the right of every woman and man, but every human, as well. Although there will continue to be divisiveness, our Nation’s leader, plows any thought that allows murder. Recently, he made one of the most powerful statements of all, “I signed a letter to Congress to make clear that if they send any legislation to my desk that weakens the protection of human life, I will issue a veto. Every child is a sacred gift from God. Every life is worth protecting. When we look into the eyes of a newborn child we see the beauty and the human soul and the majesty of God’s creation. We know that every life has meaning and that every life is worth protecting”.
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