For and Against Abortion

This author tries to shows both sides of the issue in balance.

Is This Article Unbiased? You Decide.


For And Against Abortion

By Elaheh Jarrahi



It goes without saying that abortion is one of the controversial issues in the American society. The word “abortion” refers to any deliberate or accidental miscarriage. There have been a lot of debates about whether the concept of having an abortion is morally and legally right or not.

Abortion debates, all concerning abortion laws, are often used by two interest groups: pro-life and pro-choice. The first supporting the right of the unborn child and the second supporting the right of the pregnant mother. Pro-life arguments are mainly based upon this question: “Is the fetus a human being with a fundamental right to life?”, while pro-choice is mainly focusing on: “Does a woman have the right to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy?”


Anti-choice, also known as pro-life, not only disagrees with the idea of having abortions but also is opposed to euthanasia, human cloning, research involving human embryonic stem cells and death penalty. They support for fetal rights. The contemporary pro-life movement is rooted in Christian beliefs.

South Dakota is one of the most politically pro-life states in U.S. In 2004, a law to completely ban abortion failed to pass. The state’s Legislature passed five laws to restrict abortion in 2005. In March 2006, the state passed a ban on all abortions, except on the case that the pregnant woman’s health is in danger, sending the measure to the voters. However, in the 2006 midterm elections, the ban was defeated through a popular referendum vote.

The U.S. Republican Party supports a pro-life position, though some Republicans are not pro-life. A Republican group named, The Wish List, supports pro-choice Republican women, like EMILY’s List which supports pro-choice Democratic women. The Democrats for life of America are a group of pro-life Democrats on the political left who support a pro-life policy in the Democratic Party’s and for pro-life Democratic candidates. Robert Casey, a former two term governor of Pennsylvania, is among the most well-known pro-life Democrats. There are also Republicans who have taken positions in favor of allowing abortion, such as Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, current Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City and the late former President Gerald Ford.


Pro-choice describes the view that a woman should have complete control over her fertility and pregnancy. This includes the guarantee of reproductive rights, which includes consists of sexual education; access to safe and legal abortion, contraception, and fertility treatments; and legal protection from forced abortion.

People who are pro-choice believe that women should have access to safe and legal abortion and, at the same time, that women should be protected from forced abortions. Some talk about a number of situations where they feel abortion is a necessary option. Among these situations are those where the woman was raped, her health or life (or that of the fetus) is at risk, contraception was used but failed, or she feels that she is unable to raise a child.

Before 1973, abortion was simply a matter for the individual states. The first legal restrictions happened in the 1820s, forbidding abortion after the fourth month of pregnancy. By 1900, legislators had passed anti-abortion laws in most U.S. states. 1973 was the year in which Roe vs. Wade happened: During the second half of the 19th century American physicians began adopting severely restrictive laws about abortion, allowing the procedure only in cases of medical danger to the mother. With the arrival of 20th-century feminism and other reform movements, demand grew for the relaxation of abortion laws. In 1970 an unmarried woman in Dallas, Texas, wanted an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy. Having been refused under a state law that prohibited abortion unless the mother’s health was at risk, Jane Roe (her pseudonym) claimed that the state denied her right to privacy which was guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Although the Supreme Court knocked down state laws against abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973, the debate did not end with its decision. Now after Roe vs. Wade, The US Supreme Court reached two important conclusions.

1. That abortion law was a federal constitutional law issue, not a state one, and was therefore to do the Constitution of the United States and federal law.

2. That the affording of an abortion was a constitutional right during the first and second trimesters (a period of three months) of a pregnancy based on the constitutional right to privacy, but that the state’s interest in protecting “potential life” continued in the third trimester unless the mother’s health was in danger. In subsequent verdicts, the Court rejected the trimester framework altogether in favor of a date at the point of fetal viability.

The major pro-choice advocacy and lobbying groups in the United States are Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Organization of Women, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Most of the leading feminist organizations also support pro-choice positions, although there are also pro-life feminist organizations, such as Feminists for Life.

In the United States, the Democratic Party supports the pro-choice position, stating that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”. Not all Democrats agree with this position, however, and there is a small pro-life section within the party, expressed in such groups as Democrats for Life of America. Although the 2004 Republican position is pro-life, advocating a Human Life Amendment to the constitution banning abortion, there are several nationally prominent Republicans who classify themselves as pro-choice, including former New York Governor George Pataki and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Two polls were carried out in May 2007 asking Americans “With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?” A CNN poll result was that 45% said pro-choice and 50% said pro-life. Within the next week, a Gallup poll declared that 49% were pro-choice and 45% were pro-life.

Advocacy Groups in Between

After more than forty years of debate, the abortion issue still remains one of the most controversial issues in American society. A broad range of positions exists on this issue: On one hand there are those who advocate abortion-on-demand (100% pro-choice), to those who oppose every form of abortion on the other hand (100% pro-life). Between these two there is a significant range of positions. Some disagree with abortion, but are willing to work at reducing the number of abortions through prevention of unwanted pregnancies, a task they pursue through targeted sex education and/or increased availability of contraception. Current legislation in United States Congress, the Pregnant Women Support Act, is after reducing the abortion rate in the U.S. without making any procedure illegal and with paying attention to Roe v. Wade. There are also some who support legal abortion within the first two trimesters but do not agree with late-term abortions. Some oppose most abortions but make exception for cases where the mother’s life is in great danger. In this category, some also make an exception for severe deformities of the unborn child. Others make exceptions when the pregnancy was not caused by consent of the mother on sexual activity or may violate social taboos, as in cases of rape and incest. Some allow for all these exceptions, but do not agree with abortion-on-demand.


Pro-life supports are those who are in favor of traditional and family values such as monogamy, marriage and motherhood while pro-choicers regard these traditional values with suspicion and instead promote promiscuity, polygamy and homosexuality. Pro-choicers believe that the traditional values are designed in a way to oppress women and their individuality and freedom.

Therefore part of the conflict between these two extreme ideas is not about abortion at all, it is about ideology. The role of abortion here is that of a battlefield; a battlefield on which a “civil war” is fought between left and right or better to say between conservatives and liberals. The war is about what kind of America people want to live in and what kind of country America should be. So, again and again, abortion is only one of the battlefields.

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