Abortion is a topic that frequents our headlines and newsfeeds. Most recently Ohio’s 20-Week abortion ban is bringing the debate to the forefront of our conversations once more. This topic is extremely important because it involves life, both in terms of the fetus and mother. I’d like to showcase two points of view on the subject in debate style. Laura Jones will be arguing for legal abortions at any point in the pregnancy. Dylan Morgan will argue to make abortion illegal after week 20. Both had up to 650 words to use to defend their view and 300 words to respond to the other’s statement.
By Laura Jones
A woman has a right to bodily autonomy. Always. An unborn fetus cannot survive outside of the womb, essentially making it a parasite. It will not survive without her body, but it is HER choice whether to donate that body to another. If someone dies and they are not an organ donor, their body cannot be used to save another life. A dead person should not have more of a right to their body than a pregnant woman. It doesn’t matter how far along the pregnancy is, what the circumstances of fertilization are, or what the father thinks. It is her body, and always her choice.
In this country, we have freedom of religion. That means that you are free to believe a fetus is a person, in which case you can choose not to abort a fetus. It does not mean you are free to force that belief on other people. You are free to believe that a fetus is a person as soon as the man ejaculates. I am free to believe that it is not a person until it exits the womb. It’s a difficult boundary to tread when it is something that so many people are so passionate about.
I don’t like the idea of using abortion as a form of birth control, but the rights of my fellow women are more important to me than that. Pregnancy is a huge burden on a woman in every way imaginable. It’s a ridiculous commitment to devote your entire life to bringing a person into the world, not just for 9 months, but for the next 18+ years. The average overall cost of having a child and taking care of it is over $300,000.00. There is absolutely no way that a woman should be forced to give this much of her life and fortune to someone else without her consent.
Now that we have established a baseline, I want to dive into reasons and time frames and why they are problematic.
First: Reasons. Many people are in favor of abortion in cases of rape or incest, but not in cases of consensual sex. Problem: Rape and incest are not only incredibly difficult to prove, but bring up difficult memories, family tensions, and cost money to prosecute. It is incredibly financially and emotionally unfair to make this requirement a law.
Second: Time frames. A common argument is that abortions should be allowed before a certain time frame in the pregnancy, but not after. Problem: Many women go a LONG time without knowing they are pregnant. I personally know someone who was not aware she was pregnant until literally the day before she gave birth. Now, in that case, the child would have been viable outside of the womb. No doctor in their right mind would abort that healthy fetus. It would instead just be born alive and if not wanted, would presumably be given up for adoption. Another problem is that it puts incredibly unfair restrictions on women who have late-term complications. Even with those loopholes included, if a fetus dies at 35 weeks, but is not a danger to the mother, she could be forced to live with the dead fetus inside of her until it is at full term, because removing it would be considered an abortion, which would not be legal if these laws were enacted. This is not only incredibly traumatic, but also completely unnecessary.
A man does not have a right to be inside me if I do not consent. Neither does a fetus, whether it is a person or not. My body is my body is MY BODY. It does not belong to a man, a fetus, or the government.
By Dylan Morgan
The time of viability is important even to you as you claimed, “no doctor in their right mind would abort that healthy fetus;” a great conclusion to my opening statements. I question your statement, “an unborn fetus cannot survive outside the womb.” If by unborn you mean it remains in the body outside the womb (ectopic pregnancy) you would be correct and it would necessarily be aborted as should be the case any time the health of the mother is at risk or the fetus is no longer viable i.e. dead. If you are claiming because it is in the womb it is not viable you would be incorrect as nearly 1 in 10 babies are born premature indicating viability occurs before the 38-40-week term. Your entire line of reasoning makes a viable fetus hostage to the mother, contrary to your parasite argument.
Your statement, “many people go a long time without knowing they are pregnant” is misleading. About 1 in 450 women do not know their status until week 20 or later. This is about 0.22%, not what I’d call many. Even still, because you don’t know your status after 20 weeks’ does not give you the right to terminate viable life simply because you do not believe it is so; especially when science has proven it to be. You yourself claimed “person or not;” person meaning personhood meaning bodily autonomy. Why then do your rights supersede those of a viable fetus?
You do have a right to your body, but should you consent to allow a man inside you are also consenting to allow a fetus; even with the necessary precautions. Both consenting adults need to be prepared to take responsibility for their actions. I only propose the decision-making be complete before the time of viability.
By Dylan Morgan
Abortion. Because I am a man some would say I have no right to broach the subject but that’s ok, I don’t mind. Before beginning a discussion on this topic I need to make some acknowledgements. First, scripture is not nor should it ever be the basis of policy. Second, though statistics on the subject vary and data on the matter doesn’t exist in this modern scientific era, if abortion is made illegal at conception it could potentially lead to abortion practices putting the health of the mother at risk. This is unacceptable. Finally, I believe the health of the mother is paramount and takes precedence throughout the pregnancy and there should be no law inhibiting this.
Now down to brass tacks. I believe abortion – except for cases of rape, incest, and health of the mother – is a blemish on any society. The ability to create life is a great responsibility and should be treated as such. The ending of life, starting at conception, should not be justified simply by a lack of desire/ability of the parents. According to a Gallup poll from earlier this year, the country is split with 47% pro-choice and 46% pro-life. This narrow margin and steadiness of the statistic is indicative of the political steepness of the issue. A scientific approach with the knowledge of who is actually affected may go a long way in clarifying the issue.
The argument by pro-choice proponents claims it is the body of the woman and therefore her choice whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. To argue a fetus is not a part of woman’s body to do with as she pleases, a distinction needs to be made. Fortunately, a distinction was made by the Supreme Court in the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
Justice Blackmun stated in the opinion of the Court, “regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications.” The key term is viability, described as the point at which a fetus is capable of living outside the mother’s womb. At this time, logically we can say the fetus and mother are two separate entities as the fetus is no longer dependent on the mother, though modern medical science would then carry what was the mother’s burden. The distinction of viability demonstrates the fetus is not a part of but merely inside the mother’s body.
The traditional time of viability is in the 24th week of gestation however, there have been cases in which a successful birth has been achieved before the 22nd week. This is why I support a 20-week abortion ban similar to those enacted by numerous states. The ban does not conflict with the Roe v. Wade decision allowing regulation at the time of viability and, according to statistics from the CDC for 2013, only 1.3% of abortions took place after that time. Taking into account health of the mother, presumably some of that 1.3% would still be able to legally terminate their pregnancy indicating a low impact of the law while adhering to the time of viability.
Thusly I claim a 20-week abortion ban, taking into account the health of the mother is both legal and logical. Such a ban serves only to protect the viable life inside the mother and therefore is not a “war on women”. Should a person fall into the small percentage who decides after 20 weeks they are not ready for parenthood, pregnancy does not have to lead to child rearing. The child can be put up for adoption and every state has safe haven laws. By informing pregnant women of their options, hopefully we can more easily end the needless termination of viable life in the womb.
By Laura Jones
Making abortion illegal at any point in time is a violation of a woman’s rights to bodily autonomy. At no point in life should a woman be forced to have something inside her body that she does not want there. That is the equivalent of rape, which in my opinion, is the most revolting crime one could commit. I agree with you that bringing life into the world is a gigantic responsibility, and as such, is one that should not be undertaken by those who are not ready for it, under any circumstances. The only person able to determine that is the mother.
If you really want to reduce the number of abortions, illegality is not the way. As you stated in the beginning of your argument, illegality leads to unsafe medical procedures. An arbitrary cutoff when a fetus might be viable outside the womb is yet another obstacle for women’s rights. One that I would argue will not change any abortion statistics.
If only 1.3% of abortions happen after this cutoff, some of which will not be illegal due to danger to the mother’s life anyway, what is the point? The remaining small portion will just turn to unsafe measures. I suggest better policy for sex education, access to birth control, and access to affordable prenatal care. These policies have been proven to reduce abortions by as much as 40%, without violating anyone’s rights.
About the Authors
Laura has a Bachelor of Music Education from Pacific Lutheran University. She is passionate about politics, the rights of the oppressed, and fighting social injustice. She was a teacher in Seattle and Lakewood for three years before deciding that teaching was not for her. She now resides back in her hometown in rural Washington State, living blue in a county that turned red in the last election.
Dylan has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Washington. He now attends the College of Dental Medicine at Roseman University of Health Sciences. In his spare time Dylan enjoys hiking, reading science-fiction and he recently picked up his saxophone again.