According to the Guttmacher Institute, around 51-percent of pregnancies in the United States are unintended (Finer & Zolna, 2014). Some of these are people in families who are planning their birthing in a specific way. Others are people outside of the marital structure who do not intend to have children at all with their partner. What unites these cases is that the people having intercourse did not want or intend to have a child. With so many of these pregnancies taking place in the US, an emphasis has been placed on the process of abortion. Just less than half of unintended pregnancies end in abortion, meaning that the availability of a safe means to an abortion is a very important right currently available to Americans. Yet a debate still rages on about abortion and its future legality. While there are arguments against abortion that demand attention, abortion should remain legal because a woman should have the right to choose what happens with her body, because the process is one of the safer procedures available, and because outside of the woman’s body, a fetus would not be viable.
Abortion should remain legal because of the important American principle that all people should have the right and ability to control what happens medically to their bodies. There is a long-standing legal tradition in America of allowing people to make their own health decisions. The fourteenth amendment of the constitution protects the rights of individuals, and looking at the constitution as a whole, there is an expectation of personal privacy that pervades the document. This ability to control one’s body is important for a number of different reasons. For one, women who have their right to a legal abortion take away often tend to resort to illegal abortions in order to get the job done. The basic right to choose what happens to one’s body allows women to select a medical option that is both safer and more comfortable. Likewise, there are negative effects associated with unwanted pregnancies. Unwanted pregnancies tend to have poor effects on both the mother and child, and it is linked to higher incidences of child abuse, poverty, and the like. When the woman has the right to choose what happens to her body, she is able to determine whether she is ready to support a child, and some of the negative choices are mitigated.
Abortion should also remain legal because abortion ranks as one of the safer medical procedures available today, and it is a very safe way to terminate a pregnancy. The odds of a woman dying during a normal abortion are less than one in every 100,000 (Kara et al, 2013). By comparison, a woman is roughly fourteen times more likely to die while giving birth than she is to die while having an abortion. The earlier an abortion is performed, the less risk a woman has. While no abortion can be perfectly safe, and no medical procedure is without risk, abortion’s legality allows women to choose a health option that is safe for their bodies and secure overall. The alternative is worse for women and society at large.
Abortion should remain legal, as well, because a fetus would not be able to live outside of the mother until around the middle part of a pregnancy (Elliot, 2013). During the first few months of a pregnancy, a child is said to be unviable. An unviable fetus is one that has no capacity to live outside of the womb of a mother. When discussing whether a fetus has rights, one must determine at what point that fetus receives the protection of a person. While there are many ways to determine this, one of the best is to determine that point in which a fetus would have the capacity to live outside of the mother’s womb without the direct support of the mother’s body. Arguments about rights that apply to human beings under the constitution’s fourteenth amendment should not apply to fetuses when they would have no ability to live life independent of their mother in the first place. While the fetus may come to acquire rights down the line, it should not have them at the point in which it is still entirely dependent upon the mother for its life, and for this reason, its “personhood” is limited and should not confer upon it the protections of the constitution.
Ultimately, abortion should continue to be legal in the United States for a number of different reasons. Abortion is the embodiment of a person’s right to choose what happens to his or her body, and in the case of women, it is the embodiment of the right to plan when one is ready to support a child in the living world. In addition, abortion is one of the safest procedures that a person can go through, and without abortion being legal, women would be forced to seek alternatives that are riskier and could lead to complications in the mother’s health. Lastly, abortion should be legal because the fourteenth amendment and its protections do not apply to fetuses, which would not yet be viable outside of the womb of the mother at the time of the abortion. Because the fourteenth amendment does not confer personhood protections onto a fetus, because it is a safe procedure, and because a woman should have the right to choose, abortion should remain legal for all women today.
- Elliott, H. (2013). Damages For the Wrongful Death of a Fetus-Proof of Fetal Viability. Chicago-Kent Law Review, 51(1), 11.
- Finer, L. B., & Zolna, M. R. (2014). Shifts in intended and unintended pregnancies in the United States, 2001–2008. American journal of public health, 104(S1), S43-S48.
- Kara, F., Dogan, N. U., Bati, S., Demir, S., Durduran, Y., & Celik, C. (2013). Early surgical abortion: Safe and effective. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, 18(2), 120-126.