The Unending Controversy of Abortion

Posted by Jin Kang
2016.04.07 18:44 EDITORIAL/사회 :: Current Issues


As I was scrolling down the news on my smart phone, an article about Donald Trump caught my eyes. Curious about what Trump had done to offend the citizens this time, I tapped on the link and started reading the article. It was about an interview Donald Trump had with MSNBC, during which he asserted his stance on abortion, igniting a firestorm over the issue. Trump had stated that if abortion is outlawed, “some form of punishment” should be applied to women who illegally have abortion. However, after receiving severe backlash from numerous critics, Trump put forth another explanation which defied what he had previously stated about the issue: "If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman." Trump further claimed against his previous assertion that a woman is a victim as is the fetus in her womb.


After reading this article, what came into my mind was not Trump and his statements, but the general topic of abortion itself. I had completely forgotten that abortion was still a controversial topic. Because abortion is such a sensitive issue to debate about, slipping up on even the smallest word could lead to an enormous amount of criticism - enough to get Donald Trump, who rarely goes back on his often ridiculous words, to take a step back and reverse his statement about abortion.

Abortion, even after the legalization of the procedure in a 1973 Supreme Court decision, has been debated upon incessantly in the nation with two opposing sides - pro-life and pro-choice.


Pro-life advocates oppose abortion unconditionally. They firmly believe that there is absolutely no justification for it and that there should be laws declaring it illegal. Organizations such as the National Right to Life (NRL), Prolife America, and the Pro-Life Action League actively work through legislation to fight against abortion and strive to educate people about its immorality. Abortion poses a great threat to the values of  pro-life activists regarding life and morality. Some arguments that these activists make are: 1) Abortion is no different to murder as it is the action of taking a human life, and no civilized society allows one to intentionally harm and take the life of another without punishment. 2) Abortion can increase the chance of miscarriage and pelvic inflammatory disease. 3) Those who decide to have an abortion are often minors who do not have enough life experience to fully comprehend what they are doing. Many regret their decisions later in life.


The alternative view that people take is pro-choice. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research and policy, a majority of women who go through the process of abortion are in their early twenties. Furthermore, data shows that women from minority groups of low-income backgrounds have a higher tendency to opt for an abortion. What this data may indicate is that women who do so are for the most part financially inept without the ability to rear a child. In addition, groups such as the National Abortion Rights Action League and the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood that buttress this action strongly believe in the constitutional right for a woman to have control over her own body. Other arguments that they make are: 1) Almost all abortions are taken place during the first trimester of a pregnancy, when the fetus exists independently from the mother. The fetus is physically attached to the mother by the placenta and the umbilical cord, so the health of a fetus is dependent on the mother’s health. Because the fetus cannot exist outside of the mother’s womb, it cannot be thought of as a separate human being. 2) In the case of rape, if doctors force a woman to continue with the pregnancy, there would be further psychological harm to the woman. 3) Teenagers who become mothers are more likely to drop out of school in order to look after the baby. Because the parents are young themselves, they do not have adequate parental skills. This could lead to health problems for the baby, and the parents have a high chance of choosing divorce.


Both sides have good arguments supporting their views. I had a difficult time deciding for myself what is truly moral - to keep the fetus alive no matter what or to allow the woman to have control over her body. I grew up with a pretty conservative education and background, which pointed to the immorality of abortion. Although the fetus is dependent of the bearer, it is still an organism on its process of becoming a full-fledged person. Is it really moral to prevent this? On the other hand, I realize there could be exceptions. For example, the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, prohibits Medicaid coverage of abortion except in three cases: pregnancy from incest or rape, and to save the life of the mother. I think these reasons could be valid. Such is the train of my thought at the moment, but I think it is difficult to take one concrete side in this debate. Otherwise, this argument is going to continue to no end.







Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/30/politics/donald-trump-abortion-positions/

http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/30/politics/donald-trump-abortion-town-hall/

http://womensissues.about.com/od/reproductiverights/a/AbortionArgumen.htm

http://www.nyu.edu/classes/jackson/social.issues/papers/AbortGrB.html

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/trump-i-am-exceptions-abortion-rape-incest-life-mother




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