Should Abortion Be Legal Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Abortion

The question of whether or not abortion should be legal depends entirely on who is asked, and what type of moral reasoning is being used. Likewise, the question of whether abortion should be legal or not depends on the definition of abortion -- which stage the abortion can or should take place. Perhaps more importantly, the answer to the abortion question relates to one's definition of a fetus. The answer to the question also depends whether abortion legality is maintained at the state as well as the federal level. These are some of the many factors influencing the abortion debate in the United States. Abortion has become a central political topic, not just in the United States, but in other countries as well. In the United States is the added dimension of states' rights, and whether states should be allowed to determine their own abortion policies. The arguments presented in the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1973 Roe v. Wade defined abortion and "personhood," and determined that a fetus does not qualify as a "person." More importantly from a legal standpoint, the Supreme Court ruled against states' rights and for the rights of women -- indeed all human beings. Abortion should absolutely be and remain legal for a host of reasons including the fact that unwanted children are a worse scourge to society than abortion; the fact that the state can never force a woman to bear a child against her will; and the fact that maintaining continuity among all states in the union ensures safe access to abortions.

Part Two: Argument

One of the easiest and most straightforward methods of approaching the abortion issue is to begin by eliminating the question of whether states should be allowed to determine their own abortion laws. Anti-federalists eschew government intervention at the federal level, and yet ironically embrace government intervention at the state and local levels. Clinging to states' rights is fine, but not when states' rights trump the rights of the individual. In this case, states should not and cannot have the right to infringe on the rights of a woman by forcing her to bear a child. Essentially, criminalizing abortion forces women to have babies when they are not willing or able to carry out the duties of pregnancy and childbirth, let alone parenthood.

Recently, the state of Texas found a way to weasel around Roe v. Wade, by requiring that abortion clinics staff at least one doctor with admitting privileges to a hospital within thirty miles of the clinic (Savage, 2013). The Supreme Court denied an appeal by Planned Parenthood, with the dissenting opinions predictably delivered by the three female Justices. The problem with the Texas law is that it systematically disenfranchises rural residents by restricting their access to an abortion. The matter should have been framed as an equal protection under the law issue, rather than simply as falling under the rubric of Roe v. Wade. Central to the abortion issue is the fact that each citizen of the United States should have equal access to the same legal protections as any other citizen. Roe v. Wade made it so that Texan women have the same access to safe and legal abortions as Massachusetts women. The recent Supreme Court decision took America a step backwards by basically asserting that rural women do not matter as much under the law as urban and suburban dwellers. Abortion must not only be and remain legal; abortion must be available for all Americans regardless of their race, religion, socio-economic class, or geographical proximity to a hospital. Women who have to travel long distances or overcome too many hurdles to having an abortion are not receiving equal protection. They are instead risking their lives. The same would be true in cases where states want to mandate parent approval for a teenager's abortion. Teenagers are precisely the females who need abortions the most. Abortion needs to remain legal across all fifty states because it ensures equal protection under the law, and it also ensures equal access to safe abortions. In Roe v. Wade, the majority decision found that abortion will be legal across all fifty states because abortion falls under the province of a woman's body. Thus, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to privacy (Roe v. Wade, 1973).

Women have the right to choose whether or not to carry a child to term. This is the most fundamental of all pro-choice arguments. The women's rights issue should also be framed as a basic human rights issue. Women have the right to choose because their rights are the universal human rights to dignity and self-determination. The fetus has no rights, contrary to what anti-abortionists believe. No one has been able to prove why a fetus's rights should trump the rights of a living human being. A fetus is a cluster of cells with the potential to become a human being. A woman is a human being. Anti-abortionists who cannot make this core distinction are practically sociopathic in their misogynistic attitudes. It is far more immoral to discount the rights of a woman than it is to champion the rights of a cluster of cells.

Arguments against abortion are always emotional in nature, rather than logical. More importantly from a legal standpoint, anti-abortion arguments are often, but not always, based on religious viewpoints. Religion belongs in a church, and in the hearts of human beings. There is no place for religion in government. Government is about practical matters, and maintaining law and order. The laws related to abortion in the United States cannot and should not be based on any reference to the Bible or any other religious text. Individuals who are fundamentally opposed to abortion on religious grounds have every right to avoid having an abortion themselves. However, those individuals have no right to infringe on the lives of those whose belief systems (religious or not) do not conflict with abortion.

Counter-Thesis

Anti-abortionists use several arguments to wage war on women who want access to a safe medical procedure. The most common argument used for making abortion a criminal act is that fetuses are people, and therefore, fetuses have rights. Linked with this argument is the argument that women who get pregnant should literally bear the full burden of responsibility for their pregnancy, regardless of whether the condom broke or they were raped. There are, however, some anti-abortionists who will concede that rape is an exception to the rule and that raped women might be able to have an abortion if they concede to having counseling and then only if they really want to kill the fetus. Some anti-abortionists have tried to reach beyond the confines of religion to show that fetuses have "feelings," ("Should Abortion Be Legal?" 2013). The anti-abortion argument has a certain internal consistency, in that the fundamental belief is that abortion is an immoral act because it kills something that has feelings and inherent life. Moreover, the law is presented as a social and political institution that exists precisely to ensure a moral society. Therefore, abortion should be illegal because the law is designed to create a more moral society.

Response to Counter-Thesis

First, the United States Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that the Constitution of the United States ensures not only equal protection under the law but also due process of the law and the right to privacy. Granted, Supreme Courts overturn decisions made by previous Supreme Courts due to the changing moral and normative tides in the culture. The Supreme Court of 2025 might suddenly reverse Roe v. Wade. To make sure that does not happen, it is important to show why the anti-abortionist argument is legally, morally, and indeed logically wrong.

To respond to the assertion that fetuses are people: fetuses are not people. Fetuses are fetuses. Many abortions occur prior to the stage at which the embryo becomes a fully-fledged fetus, making it even more absurd to call the small cluster of cells a "person." If the fetus were to emerge from the mother at the first 24 weeks of pregnancy (which is around the maximum duration where a doctor can administer the procedure), it could not survive (British Pregnancy Advisory Service, 2013). The embryo or fetus cannot be called a "person" at this stage, because it simply is not a person. It is a developing cluster of cells which, if it were to remain inside the mother's womb, would eventually become a person. A woman who waits too long to have an abortion must in fact face up to her indecision and carry that child to term. Abortion is not about hurting human beings; it is about helping every child that is born become a welcomed and loved child. It is also about every woman in the country being a healthy, happy woman who is independent and self-determined. No court of law, no doctor, and no man should ever force a woman to carry a child to term…

Sources Used in Document:

References

British Pregnancy Advisory Service (2013). What is an abortion? Retrieved online: http://www.bpas.org/bpasyoungpeople/what-is-abortion

Faux, M. (2000). Roe v. Wade. Cooper Square Press.

Roe v. Wade, 1973. Retrieved online: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0410_0113_ZS.html

Savage, D.G. (2013). Supreme Court vote upholds Texas abortion law. Los Angeles Times. 19 Nov, 2013. Retrieved online: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-scotus-abortion-texas-20131120,0,3988621.story#axzz2lcd6QVfk

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