“The legalization of abortion violates the right to life of unborn children.”
A Proposition of Value
After becoming very excited about an unplanned pregnancy, a married couple named Marc and Shannon May found out that their unborn son had a very rare genetic disease called partial trisomy 13. The disease encompasses fatal deformities of the heart, brain, and kidneys, along with some potential physical deformities. The mother expressed her wishes that, even though her child would probably only live a few hours after birth (if even carried to term), she did not want to terminate her pregnancy. She stated,
“I dread going into labor, because I know it will be the beginning of the end. So,
knowing how short a time he will be with us, how could I think for a second of
shortening his precious life even further? The time he's in my womb may be all that
we have with him. I'd gladly extend that time indefinitely if I could, so he could be
safe and happy inside me forever. Our son's life is a gift, no matter how long or
short a time he's with us.”
Shannon relates that it is her privilege and job as a mother to meet all the needs of her child to ensure his comfort. Shortly after expressing her concerns about her pregnancy, Shannon lost her son in utero before he was carried to term (May). Despite their tragedy, Marc and Shannon May are confident that their child lived a content and pain-free “life” even though he never left the womb. More importantly, they value the concept that life should be sustained even if one is created with abnormalities.
One may ask why the story of the May family pertains to the general public. While abortion remains to be a highly controversial subject, many still hold strong opinions about the different facets of the topic. Some believe that a life is started at conception while others believe that it begins at birth. Either way, the concept of life and its value is crucial to society because it impacts the world and its future generations. The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (“Declaration of Independence”). The quality of one’s life can never be ensured, but it is undeniable that the life that child would end up leading would be his own. It is the responsibility of the people of the United States to uphold the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and guarantee that everyone is entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The legalization of abortion violates the right to life of unborn children. In this document one will find an exploration of the term “the right to life,” an examination of the misconceptions about when life begins, and a comparison of the legality of abortion to the illegality of euthanasia.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “life” as the “animate existence viewed as dependent on sustenance or favorable physical conditions” (“Life”). From this definition, it can be concluded that from the instant the sperm fertilizes the egg and it attaches to the uterus, life is created. From that point onward, the new life form starts relying on the mother for its growth. Similarly, the “right to life” is “supporting full legal protection of human embryos or fetuses” (“Right to life”). It is the perception that every living being is entitled to the opportunity to exist and prosper; this term can also be considered as “pro-life.” Those who are pro-life believe that “human life begins at conception” (“Legal Abortion: Arguments Pro & Con”). It is important to understand this notion in order to recognize the harm being done to unborn children due to the legality of abortion.
Pro-choice believers affirm that a fetus (or baby) does not hold any human rights while in the womb; they believe that it is just a fertilized egg between man and woman (“Pro-Choice Abortion”). The right to life is jeopardized by those who are pro-choice and believe that it is the right of the mother to choose whether or not she should give birth to her child. Roe v. Wade was a significant case in the United States because it legalized a long-standing controversial issue - abortion. In a direct quotation from the case, “State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality…violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy” (Roe v. Wade). Pro-choice supporters do not look on abortion as killing a human being because they do not see an unborn child as a person; the child is looked upon as a mere fetus, like an organism being manipulated in a laboratory. Therefore, those who support the right to choose acknowledge that a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy is greater than the life of a child. Is the right to life, however, not stronger and more intense than whether or not a woman should decide to carry her baby to full term?
It is important to recognize the difference between pro-life and pro-choice. Both groups acknowledge a different starting point of life for the unborn child. This discrepancy is widely challenged even though a living thing is, indeed, a living thing. In a Congressional address to the President, Senator Dianne Feinstein made the following statement, “In 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decided that a woman's constitutional right to privacy includes her qualified right to terminate her pregnancy” (Feinstein). In essence, it seems that Roe v. Wade was a type of a document that allowed for legal murder. Previous to this “liberating” decision, abortions were only legal if the pregnancy could be fatal for the mother. Since Roe v. Wade over 47 million legal abortions have occurred in the United States which means only one thing – over 47 million innocent children were killed because they were unwanted (47 Million abortions in U.S. since 1973). Apparently Roe v. Wade was a formal document that allowed for legal murder; over 47 million deaths are justified by a piece of paper.
There are a number of reasons why women choose abortion. It has been shown that 95% of all abortions have been done as a method of birth control, meaning that women are just correcting their mistakes. Wanting to postpone childbearing makes up for 25.5% of that 95%, while not being able to afford a baby comes in second at 21.3%. Other reasons to abort that make up this “birth control” majority is not wanting any (more) children, not wanting to disrupt one’s education or job, having a relationship problem or a partner who does not want a pregnancy, being too young, and risking one’s health. What are called “hard reasons” make the 5% category in which rape is included. Rape and incest make up 1%, while another 1% is due to fetal abnormalities and 3% to the mother’s health issues (“Abortion Statistics”). From this information, one can conclude that the majority of abortions are due to an immense lack of responsibility as well as the availability (or right) to terminate a pregnancy without any consequences.
The legality of abortion can be compared to another controversial (and illegal) topic – euthanasia. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “euthanasia” is “the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition” (“Euthanasia”). While abortion is, in most cases, the termination of unborn healthy life, euthanasia deals with the termination of unhealthy life. So why would abortion be legal while euthanasia is not? According to the Journal of Medical Ethics,
“A woman can choose to have her fetus killed but not herself. The euthanasia
patient is already dying and requests death in his own interest. The doctor kills a
healthy fetus in the interest of a third person. The paradox is partly explained by
the lower value which society puts on prenatal – as opposed to postnatal – life” (Shaw 103). It can be assumed, then, that lawmakers do not see termination of life as murder unless the person has already been born.
How is it that terminating the life of a healthy child before it is born is legal, while helping end the life of a terminally ill person is not? Obviously those who are pro-choice are now taking a pro-life stance. Just because a person has not exited the womb yet does not mean that it is not alive. Is this to say that a woman can chose to kill her own child (as long as it is not born yet, of course), but she can not choose to end her own life? Are Americans entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as long as they do not kill anything that is out of the womb, including themselves? Abortion and euthanasia are parallel issues so similar that it is almost impossible to imagine how they do not have analogous rulings.
It is the responsibility of the American people to uphold the values of the Declaration of Independence (and of the United States) and prevent the destruction of innocent life. Supporters of the pro-life movement assert that life begins at conception – an idea that declares an abortion as murder. Those who believe in pro-choice acknowledge that a woman’s right to choose is greater than the rights of her unborn child. Nowhere in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or any other legal document does it acknowledge this “right” that women have except in Roe v. Wade. A right to choose pregnancy or abortion is not encompassed into “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are, however, the right of an unborn child – the right to exist. The very close parallels between abortion and euthanasia are drawn only to the point of legality – abortion terminates new life legally while euthanasia ends life. Marc and Shannon May demonstrated preservation for life and democratic ideals when they chose not to abort their deformed son. Pro-life supporters wish not only to preserve the right to life, but they are upholding the precepts of the American way – valuing life over choice.
More by this Author
Below is a copy of the eulogy that I gave at my grandfather's funeral in June 2009. It was difficult for me to go in front of hundreds of people and say these words at such a sad time, but I felt that it was...