A/N: This is my attempt to write an abortion essay free of bias for English - feel free to borrow info as long as you give credit where it's due. Let me know if I messed anything up or if QuickEdit's decided to play with my lines. This paper was helped along by alot of writers and I've cited them at the bottom. Whatever it is fictionpress and ffnet use usually botches up links, so, at the bottom - they're messed up.
According to the online dictionary, an abortion is "a termination of pregnancy and expulsion of an embryo or of a fetus" ("Abortion") – but what exactly does that really mean? To some people, it means murder and to others, it means the freedom of choice. The people who are against the right to abort are known to be pro-life as those who are for abortion are known as pro-choice. Overall, abortion has been a matter of controversy for centuries.
Historically, abortions have always been around. In ancient Rome, abortions were considered normal. These people believed that a baby didn't actually become ensouled until it drew in its first breath. The ancient Grecians, living nearly 2000 years ago, had conflicting opinions on when exactly a baby gained its soul but the practice was never outlawed, just disapproved of. The earliest written law came from Hammurabi in 1300 BC – in this code, abortion was outlawed unless it caused health problems for the mother and fines were imposed ("Abortion Historical Perspective"). In the United States, abortion was a topic usually reserved for a woman's parlor, but in the early 1820's, the combined power of physicians and strong willed lawmakers managed to get the anti-abortion wheel rolling. By 1900, most states had outlawed abortion and by 1965, all 50 states had outlawed it unless the pregnancy harmed the life of the mother or had been the effect of incest or rape ("A Brief history of…"). Yet, most people did not adhere to these laws – instead, they obtained abortions illegally. It was estimated that in 1973 alone, 1.2 million women obtained illegal abortions ("Stats before Roe…").
Illegal abortions were sky high during this time period, but one woman sought to change all that. This woman believed that every woman ought to be entitled to the freedom of choice – her name was Norma McCorvey but she soon became known as Jane Roe. She challenged legislative and under the US Supreme Court, the case now known as Roe vs. Wade was opened. In 1973, the court said that "the Fourteenth Amendment right of personal privacy encompassed a woman's decision whether to carry a pregnancy to term" ("Abortion Rights Outlined…") and ruled "a woman's right to privacy includes the choice of abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy". The court held that after the first trimester, some restrictions are acceptable and that by the third semester, abortions can be blocked altogether unless the mother's psychological or physical health is in danger ("NOW Sponsors Abortion…"). This ruling immediately bought much attention to the abortion issue that had been previously ignored publicly.
Pro-life parties and pro-choice parties were both equally disappointed with the ruling. Pro-life parties were angered that the Supreme Court could rule against the lives of all unborn children while the Pro-Choice party was angered as the court ruled that restrictions on abortion could be made after the first trimester. They began to worry that a woman who might decide to terminate her pregnancy later on might not be able to as a result of the legislatives that would spring up from this ruling. Certain groups such as Planned Parenthood, pro-choice, and Alliance Defense Fund, anti-choice, began to spring up all over the United States – they sought to make their opinions heard.
Today, more then 1,370,000 abortions occur annually in the U.S ("Induced Abortion in…) – yet, the opinionated battle rages on. One of the issues that neither the pro-abortion party nor the pro-life party can agree on is when exactly the fetus becomes an actual being. Pro-life activists define a living organism as "having a heartbeat…a functioning nervous system, hair, toe nails, blinks, spontaneous movement, skin, sex organs, livers…and a twenty percent chance of living outside of the womb" – which can be as soon as six weeks in (Shot). The opposition maintains, "Visuality equals truth" (RealmLost). They say that a fetus is not aware of its surroundings and, thus, cannot be regarded as a living being. Pro-Life supporters say that if this explanation is to be believed, then a fetus could be regarded as nothing "more than just a collection of cells and 46 chromosomes" for nine entire months of a woman's pregnancy - which is what a human being is scientifically defined as anyways.
Another issue that ensnares the attention of many anti-choice groups is the question of morality. Mother Teresa, a well-known speaker, once stated, "By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems." Many anti-abortionists believe that abortion is morally wrong and that it hardens a women's heart to her own child (RealmLost). They say that this woman is actively taking the life of her own child – yet, pro-choice supporters maintain that this is a question not of morality, but of the still unanswered question: when does human life begin? As a fetus or as a newborn child? They say that unless an actual period of humanization for the fetus is pinpointed, the pro-life side cannot maintain that a woman obtaining an abortion is committing murder.
Nearly all polls taken show that Americans are ethically opposed to abortion, yet, millions of pro-choice activists and women fight everyday – not so they themselves can obtain an abortion – but so that they have the right to. Pro-choicers believe that a woman alone has the right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy or to keep it. They say that a woman may choose to terminate her pregnancy for a number of reasons – she might have been raped, may not be financially equipped to care for a child or may not have the time to correctly care for a child.
Yet, the opposition points out, onlytwenty-five percent of all abortions are the result of such cases (RealmLost). They maintain that most abortions are the result of either unprotected sex or of the mother just looking for the easy way out. They also say that in those instances where the child is a result of a rape or when the mother cannot afford to care for her child, adoption is an available option.
Whether the question is of morality or of adoption, twenty-four percent of all pregnancies end in abortion every year ("Induced Abortion in…") and as the years go by, these abortions are predicted to rise. As abortion rates rise, arguments between both sides of the abortion issue will undoubtedly rise as well. Pro-choice activists believe that the right to acquire an abortion is one that cannot constitutionally be taken away as the fourteenth amendment states, "no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States" (Amendment XIV) while pro-life activists believe that no reason is ever truly big enough to abort. The only way this disagreement can ever be solved, is for the question of when a fetus becomes a human to be answered – when this is done, the world will know whether abortion accurately is "a termination of pregnancy and expulsion of an embryo or of a fetus" (Abortion) or cold-blooded murder.
Works Cited Page
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "A brief history of the abortion controversy in the United States".©2006 About, Inc., A part of The New York Times Company. Reproduced Online. About: Woman's History. 23 March 2006 .
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Abortion Historical Perspective". ©2006 About, Inc., A part of The New York Times Company. Reproduced Online. About: Woman's History. 23 March 2006 .
"Stats before Roe V. Wade". Reproduced Online. Georgia Right to Life organization. 23 March 2006 #search'stats2020illegal20abortions.
"Abortion."Electronic Dictionary. The American Heritage Dictionary of the EnglishLanguage, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. Online ed. 23 March 2006 ?qabortion .
"Induced Abortion in the United States". Online. Guttmacher Institute. 18 May 2005. The Guttmacher Instutute. 23 March 2006 .
Amendment XIV. US Constitution. 23 March .
RealmLost. "Life Versus Choice: An Incessant Battle". 2003 FictonPress. Online. 3 March 2003. 23 March 2006 storyid1249636.
"Abortion Rights Outlined in Roe v. Wade, 1973." DISCovering U.S. History. Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center. Thomas Gale. 16 March 2006.
Shot, C. "Let's Legitimize Baby Murder!". 2003 FictonPress. Online. 3 March 2003. 23 March 2006 storyid1524899.
This paper can nowbe found at FictionPress. March 23, 2006.
Reviews are welcome. Flames and anti-whatever-side rants will be laughed at - send them in if you feel like it. If you feel I didn't portray a side correctly, let me know. Anyone who cares, expect a pro-abortion essay sometime at the end of May.