The Enduring Abortion Debate

President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Feb. 1 foreshadows a conservative swing. Even though Gorsuch has not been confirmed by the Senate, he will likely get through due to a Republican majority in the Senate. Although Gorsuch has not written a direct opinion on abortion, he commented in 1992 in response to the “Planned Parenthood v. Casey” Supreme Court case where he reaffirmed abortion outside of undue burden as a constitutional right but that ‘reasoned judgement’ was critical when assessing if abortion should remain a constitutional right.

Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, two judges considered part of the liberal wings of the Court, are 83 and 78 years old respectively. Ginsburg has been in poor health in recent years and will likely retire within eight years. Should either liberal seat be available within Trump’s presidency, Trump could fill it in with a conservative judge. Should this happen, abortion laws could be significantly changed for decades.

Oxford Living Dictionary defines “abortion” as “the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 21 weeks”. In other words, this is an induced abortion that the woman chooses to end. Second, “life” is defined as “the existence of an individual human being or animal”. I will take that to mean that life does not start at birth, but when a child is conceived. This is important because if life begins prior to birth and if people agree that a human life is valuable, then they cannot make an exception for an embryo or fetus just because they are unborn.

Texas, where Norma L. McConvey, known by the pseudonym Jane Roe was from, has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country. In this state, there is a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion takes place. Counseling must be done in person, by mail, or by phone. If a woman is a minor, she must receive the consent of one parent prior to performing the abortion, and she must receive an ultrasound that displays an image.

Since “Roe,” fetal viability has been pushed back much earlier. The earliest recorded surviving baby, named Amillia Taylor, was born at 28 weeks. For this reason, fetal viability should be considered at no older than 20 weeks and should continue to decline with the advancement of medical technology.

One common argument frequently used by pro-choice supporters is that a woman has the right to choose when it comes to her body. It is a valid point as society should not force upon a woman what clothes she should wear, her friends and acquaintances, the diet she chooses, or be forced to conform to a patriarchal standard. But what about the life of a fetus or an embryo? An unborn baby is not the mother’s life, but her heir’s. If she aborts, the child is killed. Killing a person after birth would be called a murder, so should the same thing not be said about ending an unborn child’s life? I believe that an unborn fetus has “a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” stated in the Declaration of Independence. Unless under a dire situation, murder is considered unacceptable in Western culture. The same standards should be applied to unborn children. That said, there are a few cases where abortion is acceptable.

One exception that should be permitted is if the child has been reported during a pregnancy to have a severe birth defect such as microcephaly (a smaller head that causes intellectual disability). Society can only function if the people can work and reproduce a new generation. People with such severe birth defects that renders them unable to work or reproduce are not going to be a productive member of society. Furthermore, many parents cannot take on the lifelong task of handling a severely intellectually disabled child. If parents are informed beforehand that a child will be dysfunctional in society because of a serious birth defect or diagnoses, the choice to abort the pregnancy should be an option. That is not to say that people under this circumstances must do abortion for parents can make the choice to complete a pregnancy to term nonetheless, just that the choice should be present. Other cases where abortion must be permitted is if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or health.

Another argument for supporting abortion is that when legalized, they are much safer. Legalized abortions are trained by licensed professional who understand the risk of proceeding towards an abortion and can make sure that any tools used during it are safe.

Most abortions are unnecessary. China’s infamous one-child policy (recently changed to a two-child policy) was put in place to encourage population control. While this worked, significant problems came because of the rigid law. There were tens of millions of “missing children” in the country who were aborted or given away because they were an unplanned second child or the “wrong” gender. Chinese culture value males while women are mostly confined to the role of childbirth. The problem is, if the one child was detected to be a female, it was frequently aborted since most parents wanted a male. While India has no limits on how many children one can bear, the culture is also selective towards preferring males, creating a similar situation of millions of “missing girls”. Since selective abortion based on government’s limit on how many children parents can have and sex preference leads to sex ratio imbalance in two of the world’s most populous country, it highlights a phenomenon that affects not only the individual’s family, but also an entire nation.

Most of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of abortions that occurs every year in the United States are because of consensual sex with unplanned pregnancy that has no indication of birth defects, rape, incest, or the mother’s life in question. If parents cannot handle the potential consequences of intercourse, they should wait until later. Otherwise, they need to consistently use contraceptives. A defenseless child should not be killed because the parents feel as they cannot raise a child.

Fortunately, abortion has been on a decline. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had the nominal values in 1990 at 1,429.247 abortions. Flash forward to twenty-three years later and abortion is only at 664,435, the lowest since “Roe” legalized abortion.

This is not to say that abortion should be outlawed. The United States should have a system South Korea in that abortion is allowed for mental health, maternal life & health, rape, and fetal defects. That way, not just anyone can terminate a pregnancy but the option is there for people who need it. Doing so will allow abortions to be rare yet safe, which is the best outcome one can hope for.

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