The Conflict of Abortion, pro life and pro choice

The conflict of abortion has been an ongoing conflict since the early 1800’s. An abortion is a procedure a woman can choose to undergo to end her pregnancy. Usually a woman chooses to do this if the pregnancy is unplanned, if the woman is too young or can’t financially afford the baby, and in some cases if there is a problem in the pregnancy which puts the mother or baby at risk. On average, there are around six million pregnancies that occur each year in the United States. Shockingly, more than half of those are unplanned. “Data indicates that more than 40% of all women will end a pregnancy by abortion at some time in their reproductive lives." [1] Many people believe that abortion is the same as murder and that it should be illegal, while others believe it is the woman’s choice and no one else should have a say. It is obvious that abortion will continue to be an ongoing conflict for centuries to come.

There are five different types of procedures used for abortion—medical abortions, vacuum aspiration and dilation and curettage, dilation and evacuation, induction abortion and intact dilation and extraction. “Typically, once a pregnancy is past 7 weeks, only surgical abortion methods can be used. Second-trimester abortions tend to carry higher risks than first-trimester ones." [2] A medical abortion uses medication to end the pregnancy. The woman takes either a single pill or a series of pills to abort the baby. This method is 92% to 98% effective which makes it so the woman does not need to go through surgery. However, medical abortions can only be used up to seven weeks into the pregnancy. Also, it is not FDA approved if it has been longer than seven weeks.

Vacuum aspiration and dilation and curettage is another abortion method that removes all of the pregnancy tissue through a gentle sucking process. This method is performed in just one visit to the doctor and is nearly 100% effective. It is an option for women until fourteen weeks have passed in their pregnancy. Once a woman has passed fourteen weeks, surgery is necessary. Dilation and evacuation is a common method for women who are in the second trimester of their pregnancy. This method is also nearly 100% effective.

As women progress in their pregnancies, different measures need to be taken. Induction abortion is used to end a second or third trimester pregnancy. The woman fakes medication that triggers the start of contractions. This procedure must be done in a hospital because the woman will undergo all the usual steps of delivery and child birth. This method is usually only performed if there is a serious medical problem or illness present in the fetus or the mother. “Induction abortions represent less than 1% of all abortions obtained in the United States." [3] However, the final and the most controversial of all abortion procedures is intact dilation and extraction. The procedure takes about two to three days and is performed for the safety of the woman. “The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act makes certain circumstances of the intact dilation and extraction method illegal in the United States." [4] 

With so many options, women can get abortions in the first, second, or third trimester of their pregnancy. As far as statistics go “52% of all abortions occur before the 9th week of pregnancy, 25% happen between the 9th and 10th week, 12% happen between the 11th and 12th week, 6% happen between the 13th and 15th week, 4% happen between the 16th and 20th week, and 1% of all abortions (16,450/yr.) happen after the 20th week of pregnancy." [5] As surprising as it sounds, it is estimated that 43% of all women will have at least one abortion by the time they are forty five years old. The fact that so many people are against abortion, makes these statistics shocking. Also, “47% of all abortions are performed on women who have had at least one previous abortion." [6] 

There are approximately 42 million abortions per year in the world and around 115,000 per day. In the United States there were 1.37 million abortions in 1996, and approximately 3,700 per day. 52% of women who get abortions in the United States are younger than 25 years old. Many women feel they are too young to have a child and they are not ready for that responsibility. Women between the ages of 20 and 24 obtain 32% of all abortions while teenagers account for 20%. Girls under the age of 15 make up 1.2% of these abortions. In terms of race “while white women obtain 60% of all abortions, their abortion rate is well below that of minority women. Black women are more than 3 times as likely as white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are roughly 2 times as likely." [7] Also, only 18.4% of abortions are from married women while 64.4% are never married and 9.4% are from divorced women. With that being said, why do women have abortions? “1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or the child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient." [8] Many people don’t agree that this is a good enough reason for a woman to make the decision to get an abortion and it causes many conflicts.

Abortion laws began to appear in the 1820’s. it was forbidden to get an abortion after the fourth month of pregnancy. “Through the efforts primarily of physicians, the American Medical Association, and legislators, most abortions in the US had been outlawed by 1900." [9] Susan B. Anthony was one of the many feminists who wrote against abortion. Back then, the procedure was very unsafe for the women and put their health and life in danger. Feminists said that prevention was more important than punishment. They blamed the laws, the circumstances, and the men for women choosing abortion. “By 1965, all fifty states banned abortion, with some exceptions which varied by state: to save the life of the mother, in cases of rape or incest, or if the fetus was deformed." [10] 

Roe vs. Wade was the biggest court case debating abortion. It took place in 1973. Roe was defending women having the choice to end their pregnancy. Roe believed it was “improper for a state to deny individuals the personal, marital, familial, and sexual right to privacy." [11] Also, the court had never declared that a fetus is a person. She claimed that therefore, the fetus does not “have any legal ‘right to life.’" [12] However, Wade argued that life is present at the moment of conception. Wade also claimed that “the unborn are people, and as such are entitled to protection under the Constitution." [13] The court voted and Roe won seven to two. The court agreed with Roe and gave her the right to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester.

Since then, the argument against abortion has become quite violent. “On Christmas Day, 1984, three abortion clinics were bombed, and those convicted called the bombings ‘a birthday gift for Jesus.’" [14] Many people who oppose abortion have chosen to separate themselves from those who choose violence as an answer. The most common restrictions on abortions are parental involvement requirement, mandatory waiting periods and counseling, and limitations on public funding. There are currently thirty-two states that enforce parental consent or notification laws for minors thinking about abortion. “45% of minors who have abortions tell their parents, and 61% undergo the procedure with at least one parent’s knowledge." [15] 

There are two sides to abortion—pro-life and pro-choice. Pro-life is usually represented by the conservative republicans. These people fight against abortion every single day in hope that they will be able to make it illegal finally. They claim that it is murder because a human is technically alive at the moment of conception. The “Human Life Bill" said that “physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being-a being that is alive and a member of the human species." [16] About 18 to 25 days after conception, the heart of this being will begin beating. Then, at just 43 days, electrical brainwaves have been recorded. Only eight weeks after conception, all body systems are present and functioning just one month later. Also at eight weeks the babe will wake and sleep, get hiccups, make a fist, and even suck his thumb. After only nine weeks, the baby has unique fingerprints of his own. And at eleven to twelve weeks, all body systems are working, the baby is sensitive to heat, noise, light, and touch. That being said, a baby is fully developed before his mother’s pregnancy is even noticeable. These people who are against abortion say that this new person conceived is just as deserving of the full protection of the law as any other person.

One of the major arguments that this group makes is the cost of abortions. Abortion undermines future growth of our economy. “It is still too early for us to see the effects now, but the disastrous consequences are going to be visible very soon. A recent study shows that abortion is going to be an economic disaster. The report calculates that for every European and American who is aborted, it costs their economy $15,000,000." [17] In America alone, the cost of abortion is well over $41 trillion! When looking at the total deficit for the United States, the total comes to around $4 trillion. Therefore, abortions will cost ten times more than our countries entire debt.

Another argument made by the pro-life community is that if abortion is illegal, more people will do it. “In carious surveys 40-85% of the women said they would not have aborted their babies if it had been illegal." [18] It is true that there are sometimes complications with the procedures, and the people against abortion do not feel that it is right to legalize procedures that kill the innocent just to make the killing process less dangerous—it’s still murder. Some of the complications that could happen during an abortion are, “ectopic pregnancies, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (reported in up to 30% of all cases), subsequent infertility and miscarriages, future premature births (often because of a cervix that was damaged during the previous abortion), small-for-dates babies and placenta praevia, which is 7-15 times more common among women who have had abortions than among those who have not. An abortion can also result in a perforated uterus requiring an emergency hysterectomy. The reported immediate complication rate is no less than 10%. Studies of long-term complications frequently report complication rates between 25-40%." [19] There are way too many complications that could happen from getting an abortion and some people are determined to stop it once in for all.

One of the scariest arguments that the pro-life group makes against abortion is that it increases a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer. Dr. Joel Brind, professor of endocrinology at Baruch College claims that “every study of induced abortions performed before the first live birth is consistent with an initial increase in risk of at least 50 percent." [20] During a woman’s first pregnancy the breast cells divide and become mature as they are becoming capable of secreting milk. During this cell division process, they are more susceptible to carcinogens which cause cancer. If the woman’s pregnancy goes to full term, the woman’s breasts have time to fully mature and the cells stop dividing. However, if the woman has an abortion, the breast cells remain immature and are much more susceptible to breast cancer. This risk has been proven all over the world. “The risk among Italian women with one or more legal abortions before a first live birth was increased by 42 percent. Among Chinese women who developed breast cancer before the age of 40, abortion before first full-term pregnancy led to an increased risk of 140 percent." [21] These statistics are shocking and very scary for women who have gotten an abortion or are considering getting an abortion.

Many people believe that this world is overpopulated and that this causes oppression and poverty. They say that the way to solve these major issues it to control the population. Jim Peron wrote a book called “Exploding Population Myths" which proves that the poverty and oppression is not caused by overpopulation. He states that “in most of the world, food production is easily outstripping population growth, and on a world-wide basis the problem of overpopulation no longer exists. It is true, of course, that some nations still cannot feed themselves, but the reasons for this tend to be political." [22] This quotation shows that overpopulation is not the world’s biggest issue. The pro-life community is speaking out against this matter because they believe it is wrong for people to kill unborn babies just to help a nonexistent problem. One of the reasons that pro-choice believers do not get along with the pro-life believers is because the pro-life community is normally very religious and stands by God. They use many quotations from the bible to defend their pro-life ideas. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…defend the rights of the poor and needy."(cf Ps 82:3-4). [23] This quotation shows why religious people are mostly against abortions because they believe that God is right in everything he claims in the bible and they will not look past that. These two groups will probably never be able to come to an agreement and they both will keep fighting for their ideas.

The pro-choice community argues that abortion is a valid and positive reproductive choice. Everyone wants to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies but it is vital not to give in to the pressure to label abortion as the one invalid reproductive choice among all the options facing a pregnant woman. A woman can choose adoption, childbirth, abortion, or many other reproductive choices and the public is constantly criticizing these women for that one choice—abortion. Pro-choice believers say that abortion is a valid personal decision within the continuum of health care. The fact that abortion is portrayed as such a negative problem in our society actually forces it to become a bigger problem. Although some women do get depression or emotional feelings after having an abortion, there are many that believe it to be a good solution to the problem of an unplanned pregnancy.

Another argument made by the pro-choice community is that if abortions are legal than they are much safer and with the research done, that safety only increases overtime. These believers say that abortion has actually become one of the safest medical procedures of all time. Many portray the surgery as very unsafe but both surgical and medical abortion have extremely high rates of safety. “97% of women obtaining surgical abortion before 13 weeks report no complications; 2.5% have minor complications that can be handled at the medical office or abortion facility; and less than 0.5% have more serious complications that require some additional surgical procedure and/or hospitalization." [24] This argument is one of the best to back up the idea of keeping abortions legal. Also, if abortions are illegal then women will begin killing their babies in harmful ways that could even harm themselves. Before the Roe vs. Wade case, “the estimates of illegal abortions ranged as high as 1.2 million per year, although, of course, no accurate records could be kept of illegal procedures. What is known is that between the 1880’s and 1973, many thousands of women died or suffered serious medical problems after attempting to self-induce their abortions or going to untrained practitioners who performed abortions with primitive methods or in unsanitary conditions." [25] This quotation proves that women would harm themselves if abortion was not legal. Abortion is not legal in every country and there are approximately 68,000 women who die worldwide each year from unsafe abortions. Making this procedure illegal would raise that number substantially.

Many people who believe that abortion should be the woman’s choice feel that they are alone in this argument. However, national polls have been taken year after year and they prove that there are more people claiming to be pro-choice than pro-life. “A strong majority (60%) of Americans have consistently and strongly voiced support of Roe v. Wade and keeping abortion legal over the past decade." [26] This number may surprise many people but the ones who support abortion actually understand the importance of not only protecting, but also respecting the lives of women.

People who are identified as pro-choice believe that abortion is a valid personal decision which ultimately belongs to each woman. All women have the right to access every reproductive health option that we have. They deserve to be honored and recognized for their strength in making this decision.

Each of these groups makes valid points on whether or not abortion is right. I understand why people see it as murder and want to protect the rights of the unborn babies. However, on this particular issue I stand with the right of women to choose whatever option they believe is right for their life. The fact that these women are constantly put down and disrespected for their decisions is heartbreaking because it is a tough decision for them to make as it is. They do not deserve to be treated the way they currently are by the pro-life group. It is one thing to express your opinion about an issue but when violence gets involved, it has crossed the line. The fact that these people could bomb an abortion clinic on Christmas claiming that it was a present for Jesus on his birthday is horrifying. They could have killed many people which goes completely against their idea that abortion is murder. I stand by my decision to be a pro-choice advocate and believe that abortion should be legal in every country to decrease the rate of unsafe abortions and children born into poverty.