The Abortion Debate: How to Defend the Right to Choose

The abortion debate is predictably polarizing.
The abortion debate is predictably polarizing.

It's not exactly a secret that abortion is a very polarizing issue. Statements made in this essay will undoubtedly offend many people. However, I encourage you to read the essay in full before you pass judgment on any one statement. No matter who you are, I doubt you will finish this essay and think that it is just another typical argument in favor of abortion rights.

I am perpetually disgusted by the way in which abortion rights are attacked in this country and almost equally annoyed by the way in which they are defended. Those who do both with equal amounts of ineptitude are worthy only of contempt. Those who attack the right to choose don't understand the issue and those who defend it incorrectly undermine their own position and their own arguments.

In a nutshell, the moral elitists claim that abortion is the murder of a child and must therefore be outlawed. Leftists claim that women have a right to choose what to do with their bodies and therefore have a right to terminate a pregnancy at any time. Some people stand somewhere in the middle, claiming that abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape and incest.

None of these are legitimate attacks on nor defenses of abortion rights.

The moral question of abortion is irrelevant and has nothing to do with its practical application for U.S. society. The question of whether abortion is murder or killing or whatever is irrelevant. It is only relevant if you live in a fantasy world where abortion is impossible. The moral question is only relevant if you are arguing about an idealized world where every child is loved and every medical procedure is safe and everybody is equal and everything is perfect. That is not our world, unfortunately.

There is only one relevant argument for keeping abortion safe and legal in this country and it is this: outlawing abortion in this country will not prevent abortion. It may reduce them somewhat, but it will certainly not prevent them. Outlawing abortion in this country will only create an undue burden on our legal system and, most importantly of all, condemn poor women to unsafe medical procedures.

If we outlaw abortion in the United States, women with enough money who need an abortion will get a safe abortion from a medical provider in another country. Women who don't have enough money will seek out an unsafe abortion from a back alley specialist in this country or from a medical provider who performs abortions illegally. The bottom line - the absolute bottom line - is that the fight to outlaw abortion is class warfare. It means that poor women who might seek out an abortion will be forced to undergo unsafe medical procedures. How do we know this? Because that's how it was before abortion was legalized. That's why abortion was legalized, so all women could have access to the same standard of medical care. Abortion rights are about access to medical care and to make some other argument is irrelevant.

For argument's sake though, let's carry the anti-abortionist's argument through to its logical and necessary conclusion. The argument of the anti-abortionist is this: abortion is murder. The fetus is a human being and abortion involves killing that fetus. Therefore, abortion is murder. If you are an anti-abortionist, there is simply no way around this conclusion.

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What then, are we to do with abortion providers and women who get abortions against the law, be it in this country or another? What do we do with murderers in this country? Simple, they either get life in prison or we give them the death penalty. Therefore, imagine a country where abortion is illegal and the penalty for abortion is death or life in prison? That would be the penalty for any mother who made the choice to have an abortion. We'd either be electrocuting those women or have prisons full of women who chose to have an abortion or attempted to have one. Abortionists would be convicted of second degree murder. Fathers would have to be accessories in some way. After all, they caused the condition that resulted in the abortion (this is my least cogent point, probably). What would happen to fathers who left after impregnating the mother? Would they not be subject to some serious criminal penalty?

Imagine that world, if you will, because it's the world that anti-abortionists argue for every day. They just don't play out their fantasy all the way.

So how do we get rid of abortion? Easy, educate everyone about birth control and make free birth control readily available. Any abortion opponent who opposes sex education and easy access to, not to mention use of, birth control, is a hypocrite of the highest order. This is a simple fact: the use of birth control reduces abortion. Ironic then, that most people who oppose abortion rights also do not support the use of birth control or the teaching of sex education. Both of these things reduce unwanted pregnancies. What does not reduce unwanted pregnancies is abstinence education. Again, a fact backed up by data. Therefore, most people who oppose abortion do not do so on any practical ground. They oppose abortion because it bothers them. That's it. If anti-abortionists truly wanted to reduce abortions, they'd be following a different path. The problem is that opposing abortion with the argument that "my morals are better than your morals" doesn't sway anyone.

Pro-choicers in this country haven't figured out the above argument and usually argue against outlawing abortion with the contention that women should have the choice to do with their bodies anything they want. This has to mean that abortion should be legal right up until the day the baby is born, which is ludicrous. The problem pro-choicers have when they engage in this argument is that they get pulled into an argument about when a fetus is a human being and when it is not. By even entertaining this argument, they weaken their own pro-choice defense and make it far more difficult on themselves than it has to be. Qualifying the status of the fetus as a human being is irrelevant to a defense of abortion rights. However, it does bring up a good question. Should abortion be allowed under any circumstance?

The answer is no, absolutely not. It is not unreasonable for somebody who opposes abortion (or anybody for that matter) to pose the question: "How is a woman who kills her baby one second after it's born a murderer and another woman who aborts her baby one second before it is born not a murderer?" This is a reasonable question whose only answer is this: they are both murderers. We pro-choicers then get pulled into a debate about when human life begins or have to explain at what point a human fetus is a human being and isn't a human being.

These are hard questions and difficult, emotional arguments, and they have to carry some weight if we are to determine as a society how to regulate abortion, because there does need to be some degree of regulation. The problem is that the two sides won't ever come together or give any ground. There has to be a practical solution.

The solution I propose is that viability be the key to solving the argument (this is obviously not new). Essentially, if a fetus is viable, abortion shouldn't be an option unless the fetus is damaged in some way (disease, retardation, malformation; etc.) or the health of the mother is at risk. Abortion should always be legal during the first trimester. During the second trimester, things get a little trickier. And during the third trimester, abortion would only be allowed under extreme circumstances. Abortion should never be used as a form of birth control either and such action should be criminalized. These, to me, seem like reasonable solutions to a very complex problem.

No matter who you are in the debate, an axiom is worth remembering: complex problems usually have complex solutions. If you think that there is a simple solution to abortion, then you probably haven't thought through the issue. And if there's no middle ground, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Note: I have two children. My views on abortion have not changed. Had either of our children been tested early and it was revealed they had a birth defect or Downs Syndrome, we would have elected to terminate the pregnancy.

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Comments 13 comments

crankalicious profile image

crankalicious 3 years ago from Colorado Author

Your questions are irrelevant to the issue of whether or not abortion should be illegal. I already said I don't agree with the use of abortion as birth control, but that doesn't mean that abortion shouldn't be illegal.

Had my mother decided to terminate her pregnancy just after I was conceived, I would not be around to be aware of my own existence and ask her that question. Your question and emotional connection to the question and answer is a rhetorical fallacy and also irrelevant.

People who believe in abortion don't value human life? That's patently false. A 1-sec old zygote has less value than a 1-day old baby. The former has no consciousness and no awareness of its existence. The human body expels such things regularly. Perhaps we should criminalize miscarriage?

No need to continue this conversation. You are not remotely engaging with the main point of the article.

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thirdcoming 3 years ago

A fetus isn't a baby ? Are you serious ? How can you say that ? A baby or person is a human when the sperm and egg fuse into a zygote. Every single person who ever existed became a person in the same exact way. We start out as a single cell or zygote and we grow over time, even after we are out of the mother's womb. We keep growing until adulthood. No person is a whole baby right at conception ! It has to grow. If you terminate that fetus you just terminated a person who has begun forming like you and me. I am floored that people think like you. That is the most unreasonable thing I've ever heard. So answer me this, if you will ? If your mother terminated you as a fetus, would you be alive right now ? Unless you actually created human beings, what gives you any authority to determine when a life begins ? You can't be a human without being a fetus. You can't be that ignorant. Yes, every innocent fetus is precious. It is a human. That fetus keeps growing. If you terminate it, you just terminated what was going to be, and is,a baby. You're thinking is very dangerous. Can't you see that ? All life is precious, although people's actions aren't. Again a serial killer's life may not be precious, but , again, these are the exception. It's just scary the things you say and believe. Quit saying I didn't read the article, I don't need to. I'm addressing the notion that a fetus isn't a forming baby and women should be allowed to kill it. And you didn't answer my questions. 1. Would it have been okay for your mother to have terminated you once you began becoming a baby human ( a fetus ) if she just decided to because it was her choice ? ... You must be a total atheist who has no morals or regard for life. Only a pure atheist would think like that. That way you can justify it. You do know that whether you are religious or an agnostic scientist, no one knows how we all came into existence, don't you ? The most brilliant people in the world know that no one knows or can know how we all started, how the universe started. Only an atheist would make the claims you do. This is why it is accepted that pure atheists are really ignorant, close minded people. It allows you to have no morals and it lessens the value of life as we know it. That is your CHOICE. But terminating a baby is not your CHOICE. Even if the LAW states it is legal, that doesn't mean it is your choice. It doesn't justify it at all. I will stop commenting after this. If you have any credibility whatsoever, just answer these two related questions..... Would you have thought your mother would have been in the right if she would have terminated you as a fetus ? And if your mother would have terminated you, would you be alive today? PLEASE answer these two questions. Do not add anything else. Just answer these two questions directly, yes or no. Just a one word answer for each question. Yes or no.

crankalicious profile image

crankalicious 3 years ago from Colorado Author

You can answer those questions for me by reading the article. The answers are in there. I did not take a hard line all the way through and drew distinctions between different types of abortion.

You refer to a fetus as a baby. Of course killing a baby is wrong. A fetus is not a baby.

And I'll just say this to get it out of the way, but human life is not precious. We demonstrate that every day all over the world. You're trying to say that innocent life is sacred or precious.

Your arguments are irrelevant to the issue. By banning abortion, we simply make it impossible for poor women to get a safe medical procedure while women who can afford to travel to Canada or wherever go on as usual. I said, quite clearly, that abortion as a form of birth control is wrong.

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thirdcoming 3 years ago


I don't care if abortion is legal or not. Man is very flawed and corrupt, especially governments. Everyone makes excuses and reasons for abortion being legal. You are the one who clearly doesn't understand. And I'm not trying to be argumentative. You say the point is that abortion should be legal because women will do it anyway. Does that make it right then ? So murder should be legal, and all drugs, and all forms of pornography, etc. because humans will do it anyway ? I'm talking strictly about the act of terminating a real baby. Ending the life of a precious human. Besides rape or the mother's life being in danger for unique medical instances , how could you or anyone think that killing a baby is alright? This is so, so sad. Everyone who attempts to justify this never answers my questions directly. That's because there is no justification. There is no argument. Killing a baby is wrong. The term "pro-choice" is a farce. The choice is whether you are going to terminate a life. How is anyone for that legally or morally ? And why is it just the woman's choice ? What about the victim-less baby's choice ? No one can ever answer that with a justifiable, reasonable answer...because it is completely unjustifiable and unreasonable. Again, not in cases of rape or if the mother's life is in danger in an exceptional medical situation....We can go on forever, I guess. But can you at least answer ( directly ) these three questions ? I will answer your questions, also. ...1.) Do you think , in a normal situation ( which is the majority of abortions ) that it is okay to terminate a baby's life ? 2.) Do you think the victim, the baby, has the right to live ? 3.) Would you think ( although you would be deceased ) that your own mother would have been perfectly in the right if she would have terminated you because, like so many women say, they made a" mistake" ? Please answer directly. Don't mention rape and the extreme cases, this isn't my issue. I'm talking about the majority of cases where the woman simply has an abortion because it was a "mistake" or a "burden" or whatever the excuse may be. If you can answer those 3 questions honestly and directly, I promise I will answer any 3 questions you present to me.

Thank you

crankalicious profile image

crankalicious 3 years ago from Colorado Author

Perhaps you read it, but you clearly don't understand it. Abortion is about safe medical procedures for women who will get abortions whether they are legal or not. You can work to eliminate abortions by supporting the use of birth control.

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thirdcoming 3 years ago

I may have missed the article. If it is in reference to the article on this page, then my comments are relevant to that article. The writer says , " abortion should always be legal in the first trimester. " So you can kill a baby in the 3rd month of its existence but not the 4th...that would be immoral. Are you serious ? Who on earth could justify this view ? Terminating the baby when it is a one cell organism is the same as terminating a baby when it is multi-celled organism. There is no difference. A life is an ongoing being that grows until adulthood. If you terminate that one cell, you terminated a baby that was in the process of becoming a fully developed human, just like the way you and I were created and formed. If I am missing the point of the article in reference, please tell me. Whatever articles exist, if they are stating that abortion should be legal and is moral ( except for the extreme cases which are exceptions , as everything has exceptions ), then they are wrong in so many ways. How could any moral, decent, reasonable, compassionate, unselfish individual ever defend abortion as legitimate ? I am open minded, really. I just can't open my mind to terminating babies. I know it may be a difficult experience for people, but that doesn't meet you simply terminate the "problem" when the "problem" is a human life. I thought taking a human life was the worst act you can commit on another human being. This thinking is part of the overall evil and sadness which pervades all of humanity.

crankalicious profile image

crankalicious 3 years ago from Colorado Author

You apparently didn't read the article.

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thirdcoming 3 years ago

There are extreme cases attached to any situation. Those are different. Such as rape, or when the mother's life is at stake due to an extreme situation. Just like murdering someone is wrong, but there are cases when it is justified, like in self-defense. I'm not speaking of these extreme cases. I'm talking about the overwhelming majority of the cases. How is there an argument, first of all, about when a fetus is really a human and all this non-sense. When the sperm and egg combine and form a zygote , life has begun. There is no issue about that. This is a simple , given fact. To say it is not means you have some personal agenda or you just don't have the mental capability to understand. Ask a child, they are more truthful and honest than adults and listen to their instinctive answers. Every human being has been a zygote. If someone terminates the zygote then they just terminated a human because in nine months that zygote transforms and grows to be a human. And then we continue growing all throughout childhood until we are adults. You wouldn't justify terminating a 1 month year old baby, right ? Why ? They aren't fully formed humans yet, they are still growing. Just like the zygote, it is still growing. It will be a human, like you and your family. The fact that anyone would disagree is unfathomable. Where is the responsibility ? Don't have sex if you know an unwanted pregnancy may result. RESPONSIBILITY. Yea having sex is a bigger act than you think, it is how life is formed. Sure accidents happen. But if I get into a car accident and it was my fault, I still have to pay all the consequences. You may have used protection but if an accident ( the pregnancy ) happens, you still have to take care of the consequences ( the child ). And a life is infinitely more precious than a car. Those that believe abortion is okay place zero value on human life. You would have never existed if your parents or mother terminated you while you were becoming a life. Can you look at your mother and say , " Mom, if you would have terminated me when I was a single cell and was becoming a person, I think that you would have been justified choice and I am okay with you making that choice to terminate my existence ?" If you say yes, you are a very scary individual and I wouldn't want to ever meet you. I can't believe people actually try to debate when a life is a life. Are you that ignorant, really ? Or just that evil ? If you don;t think killing the growing baby is wrong, what would prevent you from murdering any person and justifying it ? That is the scary part. The sad part is all of the little babies that are murdered every day when if the mother ( parents ) would have just waited 9 months or less a precious life would have existed. But that little life will never exist because it was killed. Just one last question for the people who support abortions : We call it murder when you terminate a growing baby , what do you call it ?

crankalicious profile image

crankalicious 5 years ago from Colorado Author

Thanks for the kind comments.

Infiniteresearch profile image

Infiniteresearch 5 years ago from Ohio

One of the most sensible views on abortion I've ever read. Definitely one of those subjects where people make up their minds based on very little information regarding the big picture. Glad to see someone providing the real facts behind the debate. Kudos and voted up!

Auntie D profile image

Auntie D 5 years ago from California

Very good and clear writing on this very controversial subject that really makes sense. People who deny sex education should be time-zoned back into the 17th century where having many children was the norm and many were thankfully delivered by mid-wives.

Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 5 years ago from California

Third trimester abortions are rare and are rarely a simple choice. They typically occur due to a health risk to the mother or a serious abnormality in the fetus. So, there really is no reason to restrict them. The last thing a devastated couple needs is dealing with courts to end a pregnancy that involves a child they really wanted. Most women who don't want a baby will have the abortion in the first trimester.

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vinsanity 5 years ago

I personally think that you should have a choice. Also, if the father is still going to around and taking care of the kid if it is born, he should have a say in it also. That is just me though...

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