Description: Abortion is the argument over whether or not a woman should be allowed to prematurely terminate a pregnancy before birth occurs. The result is that the pregnancy no longer produces a viable life. Instead, the fetus is removed from the woman’s body and medically discarded. In 1973, the court case Roe v. Wade established abortion as a protected right for women. There has been much debate over what conditions an abortion is considered moral and ethical. Individuals who wish to outlaw or restrict access to abortions are called Pro-Life, named that way with for the focus on the life of the fetus in the womb. Individuals who support the right of a woman to have an abortion are called Pro-Choice, named for the ability of the woman to choose the outcome of the pregnancy.
The Pro-Life Argument: According to the Pro-Life Community, life begins at the moment of conception. Once the sperm meets the egg inside a woman’s body, life has begun and therefore must be protected. Each human life is sacred, and even though we cannot hear the fetus’ wishes, it should be assumed that they would not like to be killed. Pro-Lifers argue that even though a fetus might not necessarily have a consciousness (or personality, for example) that does not justify killing it freely. A comatose or even sleeping person also loses consciousness for periods of time, yet is protected under the law. The extent to which Pro-Lifers would like to prohibit abortions varies, but there are many cases where the goal is to make abortion entirely illegal, even in cases of rape. Pro-Lifers argue that abortions are used irresponsibly, and that normalizing the behavior is a dangerous message for society to embrace. The Pro-Life Community strongly asserts that the most effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies is abstinance and that those who engage in sexual activity need to weigh the consequences of their actions first. The act of sex is simply not worth the weight of a human being’s life, so self control (or at the very least proper protection) is encouraged. A strong and resonant Pro-Life message is that we “must protect the defenseless.”
The Pro-Choice Argument: According to the Pro-Choice Community, life doesn’t necessarily begin after conception but instead once a viable humanesque form is taken by the zygote. It is not argued that it is OK to kill a fetus. Instead, emphasis is typically placed upon the woman and her well-being. Pro-Choice does not require all individuals to have an abortion, it simply provides resources to those who wish to get one safely. The Pro-Choice camp is especially adamant in cases of rape, where the woman does not intend to have sex with the male let alone father his children. Such pregnancies can carry high health risks in addition to legal and financial risks, none of which were brought about by the woman’s actions. Again, the spectrum of when an abortion is considered OK ranges, with some people considering it an “Emergency Only” situation (like in rape) and others being more casual about it. When considering the option of whether to abort or not, how far a woman is into the pregnancy is a strong consideration. In fact, 88% of all abortions are performed before 12 weeks into the pregnancy. Another Pro-Choice argument is that, were abortions outlawed, many women would be forced to get them in less-than-desirable ways, further risking their health. Generally, Pro-Choice people are in favor of reducing the number of abortions performed; they simply prefer to leave the choice up to the woman on a case-by-case basis.
If you are Pro-Lifer, perhaps you can answer some of the following questions:
- To what extent is it OK to impress your opinions upon others? Essentially, Pro-Life accepts only 1 answer to a pregnancy while Pro-Choice allows the individual to decide the outcome.
- Are there any circumstances under which you might consider an abortion acceptable? What are they?
- Why do you feel that the existence of abortion clinics is an infringement upon your beliefs?
If you are Pro-Choice, perhaps you can answer some of the following questions:
- How can we ensure (from a policy perspective) that people use abortions responsibly and sparingly?
- Where and how do you draw the line on what makes an abortion acceptable vs. unacceptable?
- What factors might you consider when deciding whether or not to have an abortion?
- Can you think of a way that we as a society can work together to reduce the number of abortions performed (without affecting the legality)?
- Is it really safe to assume that many women would use back-alley abortion clinics if the legal ones were to disappear? To what extent should we consider these actions legitimate and defensible?