The topic of abortion is a hot one indeed. As with any good argument, there are two sides, both with valid points. In this case, the two sides are labeled “pro-life” and pro-choice” though alternative classifications are often used as an attempt to discredit the opposing opinion. For example, “Pro-Lifers” often refer to a pro-choice stance as a “pro-death” or “pro-abortion” as a means of demoralizing those who believe in a woman’s right to choose. Alternatively, those who identify with the “pro-choice” position may find themselves referring to their opposition as “anti-choice” due to the fact that they feel it is not only okay for the government to deny access to abortions, but often demand criminalizing it from their governmental representatives. But what does it really mean to be Pro-Life or Pro-Choice? Is there more to the position than moral obligations to uphold individual (a woman or a fetus’) rights? In this essay, I will address both sides of the issue and look at implications regarding the over-all well-being of women who have chosen to have elective abortions.
First, let’s take a look at the Pro-Life stance. Those who identify with this position believe that abortion is murder and should not be available as a form of contraception. They feel that a person, whether born or not, has a God given right to life which we should not challenge. The article After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? raises the question of when it is right to assume a fetus is morally comparable to an infant by proposing that killing a new born infant (for instance one born with a disability) should be able to be terminated just as it might have been done pre-birth (Giubilini & Minerva, 2011).
Many pro-lifers have even gone so far as to attempt to shut down all facilities which perform the procedure through protests, heckling, and in extreme cases bombing clinics or attempting to murder doctors who practice regular abortions (“Abortion” 2012). It is important to note that, though the idea of murdering a doctor who performs abortions may seem hypocritical, it is often justified through the idea that this one murder will end up saving millions of children from enduring this fate (Crooks & Baur, 2011). Pro-Life advocates are often highly religious and feel that the conception of a child is God’s work and we should not interfere with His plan.
Contrary to what Pro-Lifers may think about the Pro-Choice position, those who identify with the Pro-Choice stance are not heartless murderers. They do not want to kill babies, they do not condone infanticide, and rarely view abortion as a simple way to deal with their perceived problem of bearing and potentially raising a child. Instead, Pro-Choicers feel that the woman who becomes pregnant should be free to make this very personal decision of whether to carry and raise the baby, carry out the pregnancy then give the baby up for adoption, or to abort the fetus without the government intervening. A woman’s body is her property and bearing children is her life-long responsibility. As the label states, Pro-Choicers believe that a woman should be able to make this choice and the government should allow it lest illegal (sometimes self-inflicted and very dangerous) abortions become the alternative.
Some have speculated that abortion not only kills the fetus, but also creates life-long mental problems for the women who have had them. They claim severe anxiety and depression will result from choosing to have an elective abortion. But scientists and psychologists do not accept mere speculations and have sought to prove this theory either true or false. As stated in the article “Psychological Factors in Abortion”, the occurrences in which anxiety levels are high following an abortion are usually due to other factors, such as the woman’s mental health prior to the pregnancy. A direct correlation on poor mental health and stability as a result from abortion has not been confirmed. Often, in fact, the mental health of the woman improves, such as when a woman experiences anxiety over raising a child alone or the inability to afford another child (Adler, David, Major, Roth, Russo & Wyatt, 1992).
Needless to say, the subject of abortion creates many different feelings in many different people. Though there are some who refuse to take sides about this controversial topic, most people find themselves clinging closely to one viewpoint or the other and will often defend their position with a passion. Many lives hang in jeopardy in reference to the matter – lives of both women and children – and it is no wonder so many politicians have such a difficult time sorting through the issue. Policy makers will continue to make decisions about abortion based on what they, and the people who rely on them, feel about the issue. And, no matter what laws may or may not pass, there will always be the opposing side fighting for what they believe to be morally right.
- Adler, N., David, H., Major, B., Roth, S., Russo, N., & Wyatt, G. (1992). Psychological factors in abortion. American psychologist.
- Crooks, R., & Baur, K. (2011). Our sexuality. (eleventh ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
- Giubilini, A., & Minerva, F. (2011). After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?. Retrieved from http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/03/01/medethics-2011-100411.full