Should a Woman Have the Right to Choose Abortion?
One of the most unfortunate aspects of women's issues, such as abortion, is that they are considered women's issues instead of social issues that immediately affect women and directly involve women's needs; these issues broadly affect society, and so, they must be a concern to both women and men. When considering the right to have an abortion, little has been done to define what the rights to abortion are. Roe v. Wade and like cases established that there are rights and helped addressed the problem of "home abortions."
On the other hand, the Courts refused to establish an absolute right to abortion. Furthermore, there has been little successfully legislation that defines the extent of those rights as the Courts have been the only government branch to properly address the issue of abortion; however, they cannot lawfully legislate from the bench. The Constitution only allows the Courts to decide if a freedom, whether enumerated in the Constitution or not, has been violated by the passage or unfair application of legislation.
Moreover, the challenge that comes with issues, like abortion, is that Legislators have not been able to successful create legislation which defines these rights without violating the Constitutional rights of individuals. The difficulty lies in the fact that there is no true debate between those who are pro-abortion and those who are anti-abortion. Instead, the Nation is caught in a power struggle between those who are "pro-life" and those who are "pro-choice," thus preventing a coherent legal solution, for a very serious social issue, from being reached.
The pro-life stance is truly a moral position which frames the issue of abortion in terms of belief and ethics. Although I would prefer laws be based on solid scientific reasoning and quantifiable data, there are often unanswered questions in the world of science that require a legal answer immediately. Meanwhile, it is important to remember that the Constitution does not require legislators to aspire to a burden of proof or reason as legislation may simply be created out of moral standards that our society espouses, i.e. the Eighteenth Amendment and the sodomy laws involved in the US Supreme Court case Bowers v. Hardwick of 1986. Quite frankly, the US is a democracy and the majority opinion rules so long as it does not infringe upon the freedoms and rights of the people. Moreover, even this requirement can be circumvented if there is a compelling State interest to create narrowly tailored legislation that limits an individual's freedom.
On the other hand, moral quarrels tend to be unsurpassable as people's beliefs are almost impossible to change through argument. Additionally, moral based legislation will fail to protect those who are raped or in need of medical treatment; therefore, a law based on a weak moral argument is likely to be ruled as infringing upon someone's rights without a clear state interest. Frankly, previous cases have already revealed this fault of moral legislation. Furthermore, the state may choose to give unborn fetuses legal rights as murders can be charged for the death of a fetus, but legislation focusing on defining the beginning of viable human life is weak as a clear concise definition does not exist. Legislators must move away moral reasoning and deal with abortion in terms of balancing legal rights; otherwise, the Nation will be stuck in a conflict that cannot be resolved.
The pro-choice stance is a position that argues an individual should be given the opportunity to undergo an abortion procedure without restriction. This view frames the issue more as a conflict of individual rights versus state interests, which makes it a better legal question as law revolves around the balance of freedoms and protections. Therefore, a debate on choice provides for a stronger legal argument; however, it must be a debate on pro-abortion versus anti-abortion as the negative connotation of anti-choice pushes individuals toward the stance of pro-life. Under such a debate, a victim of rape would retain the right to choose an abortion as their pregnancy was not a choice and the Law must protect such individuals' rights. On the other hand, a woman who engages in consensual sexual intercourse may not have the same protections.
In many respects, the debate needs to be on what types of abortions should be lawful and on whether or not women who choose to engage in consensual sexual intercourse have the right to terminate a pregnancy. Furthermore, this debate becomes complicated when a pregnant female is under the age of eighteen as her rights are under special restrictions, yet a pregnancy is most likely to impact her life more negatively. Moreover, when a woman's life is endangered by a pregnancy, the woman, father of the child, and doctors must be able to make a decision on a necessary medical procedure. This means that abortion, as a life saving medical procedure, is an ethical concern of medical professionals that must stand apart from the general abortion debate as it is an entirely different debate only involving what options should be available. As for cases of birth defects, the debate must on the available options and the ethical conditions under which an abortion is legitimate. In deed, the abortion issue is not simply one debate but rather a string of debates. Therefore, the abortion debate must move on from its current polarized stalemate to a series of discussions that address each aspect of the abortion issue.
Government indirectly must concern itself with the debate on ethics and what procedures should be available while focusing on the rights of those who engage in consensual sex. Some individuals might argue that if abortion is not widely available, rape victims, those with medical needs, and those with other legitimate claims for abortion will not have the procedure available to them. Although the Constitution requires the Law protect the rights of all, many politicians, both liberals and conservatives, do not respect balance in law and push agendas that seek to destroy rights, because of personal beliefs, even after such rights have been firmly established. There will likely be a continuous struggle, which focuses on stopping unconstitutional laws that will block legitimate rights to abortion, but Law cannot silence the will of the majority simply out of conveyance as guarding legitimate rights to abortion without granting an absolute right to abortion will be challenging but not impossible. Frankly, a patient may not be able to go to an abortion clinic, but they will be able to go to a qualified physician who will ethically and legally be bound to perform a legitimate abortion.
Furthermore, the equal protection of law extends to another issue that may seem strange and appear to be a paradox when considering women's rights. The Constitution requires the Law to equally protect maternal and paternal rights to an abortion. When a man and a woman choose to engage in consensual sex and the woman is guaranteed the right to have or not to have an abortion, then an equal protection of the law must apply to the male. Avoiding the debate over whether or not a male has the right to stop an abortion, force an abortion, or sue a partner for having an abortion, the male's right might be limited to the ability to disown an unborn child, thus absolving the male of any paternal responsibility.
On the other hand, our society understands that the existence of fatherless children creates a whole host of social problems including financial disenfranchisement of mothers and offspring. The state has a clear social interest in ensuring both fathers and mothers, at the very least, remain financially responsible for their offspring with the hope that they will be further involved in their children's lives. Therefore, paternal rights to abortion probably should not be guaranteed for those engaging in consensual sex, and thus, maternal abortion rights should probably not be guaranteed either.
The abortion debate must be about what abortion options should be available and when it is ethical to abort a fetus suffering from medical defect. Moreover, it must be on whether or not the Court system can timely and accurately determine if an abortion is legitimate; I am certain there are many people who believe this might not be the case. Furthermore, abortions appear to be a band-aid issue that takes the focus away from deeper social issues. Our society needs to work on the issues that create the need for abortion while we are debating the issue of abortion. Poverty, unstable living conditions, lack of access to birth control for adults, poor relationships, and social pressure leading individuals to view pregnancy as a negative condition need to be addressed.
Furthermore, young adults and teens are engaging in sexual behavior that negatively affects their lives not only with pregnancy but with sexually transmitted diseases and emotional stress that should not exist in their lives. Granted hormone levels drive young adults and teens to seek out sex, but social pressures strongly shape their behaviors and views on when and what type of sex is appropriate. Our society needs to clarify when sexual behavior is appropriate and responsible. I am not necessarily suggesting this be when a condom is used or under the condition of marriage, though a condition marriage-like might be ideal. Our society's attitude on sex needs to be open and responsible. Frankly, our society equates love with sex while young adults and teens are often left feeling emotionally detached from the world. Above all, there are many issues that connect to abortion, but abortion will not solve these issues for many individuals nor will it necessarily help resolve these problems in the long term for our society.