Abortion has been a very controversial issue in the United States. It was made a legal practice by the landmark Roe v. Wade case in which the Supreme Court ruled that women have the right to make medical decisions about themselves including abortions. However, many states have formulated laws, which might hinder one’s access to abortion. The abortion controversy in the USA has divided its supporters and opponents into two groups: the pro-choice and the pro-life. Most of the Americans categorize themselves as somewhere between the pro-choice and pro-life. According to various poll surveys, 28% people believe that the right to abortion should be legal under all circumstances while 48% state that abortion should only be legal under few circumstances (Dworkin, 2011).
Many other states ask women seeking abortion, to receive counselling before the abortion is performed. If pregnancy becomes a risk for the life of the mother or there is a fetal anomaly, then abortion has to be performed for ensuring the life of the mother. Abortion can also be performed in case of social or economic reasons. If the birth of a child denotes a strain on the economic resources of a family, abortion can be performed. In most serious cases, abortion must be conducted in case of any act of sexual harassment which leaves the victim impregnated.
However, pro-choice advocates state that irrespective of any circumstance, abortion must be allowed, as it is a woman’s right to her body. The abortion policy is not free from flaws itself. Many opponents of this policy state that the act of abortion poses an unfair discrimination against the unborn child. They state that those who deny the fetus the right to life do not value any life at all. At the same time, every religion has its own views on abortion and puts this procedure under a moral dilemma. In Islam, the practice is deemed as strictly forbidden and an equivalent to murder. It states that no fetus or child should be aborted out of fear of poverty. In Christianity, the killing of a fetus is also considered immoral until the continuance of the pregnancy harms the life of the mother in any way.
According to some studies, an abortion can also increase the risk of breast cancer among women. This hypothesis is based on the study that hormone levels increase in early pregnancy and leads to the growth of breasts. However, if this process is disturbed by an induced abortion, then undeveloped cells left behind in the body can lead to breast cancer. Although there is no concrete scientific evidence for this hypothesis, anti-abortion advocates link the likelihood of abortion and breast cancer. This theory has also been advocated by many politicians who have, over the time, included in state legislation that health care providers present abortion as one of the causes of breast cancer.
These above-related problems and the conservation attitude of not only the general masses but some politicians as well have always hindered the implementation of the policy goals. Despite these issues, the right to abort a fetus has been regarded as a woman’s reproductive right. Reproductive rights are those legal rights which are concerned with the reproduction process and reproductive health of individuals. Women claim that they, before anyone else, have the right to their bodies. If they don’t want to give birth to a child, then there should not be any compulsion for them to go through pregnancy. Pregnancy, in the male-dominated world, is seen as a method to control and bound a woman. Many steps have been taken to hinder the progressive acts of women from controlling their own bodies.
However, pro-choice activists claim that it is up to a woman to decide whether she wants to continue her pregnancy or to terminate it. They also state that access to legal abortions can also minimize the chances of women seeking illegal abortions and the risk factors associated with them. Their basic argument is that all individuals have a right to body rights and sexual freedom, and how one wishes to express that freedom.
If one evaluates the abortion policy, then one would come to know of a cost and benefit analysis of that policy. Abortion may come with many benefits for those seeking it such as a reduction in unwanted pregnancies, fewer health risks, less strain on economic responsibilities and more(Sedgh et al., 2012). At the same time, since abortion is a polarizing issue in the States, it also comes with a hefty cost. Not only is the procedure costly in terms of money, it is also not supported by the authorities in power. US policymakers have failed to realize that abortion is an important aspect of one reproductive health care and stands among the fundamental human rights. Secondly, the US leadership have also failed to contemplate that abortion should be available in all situations.
The leadership also seems adamant to not make abortion legal for everyone and everywhere. US lawmakers only approve one’s access to abortion when it is not against the law. What the policymakers need to realize is that abortion is a right of every woman, who plans to take charge of her own life. If the highest judicial body has legalized the procedure of abortion in the Roe v. Wade case, there is no point for some policymakers to make access to abortion difficult for women who see it as one of their fundamental rights.
Sedgh, G., Singh, S., Shah, I. H., Åhman, E., Henshaw, S. K., & Bankole, A. (2012). Induced abortion: incidence and trends worldwide from 1995 to 2008. The Lance