Where Life and Choice Collide
The essential question in regards to abortion is not whether or not it is a good procedure, but whether it should be a legal procedure. Quite popularly recognized as different from contraception in that it terminates a pregnancy rather than preventing it. Whilst the society at large varies at the logistics and lengths of the procedure, fundamentally it falls into two caps. Those known as “pro-life” advocate that abortion should be illegal, while those known as “pro-choice” argue that a woman should have the right to choose whilst the developing fetus is in her womb.
Such an argument seems to be one where there may be no definitive answer. Certainly it seems a bit callous to say that pregnancy is no more than the development of cells. For what is a human, or any creature for that matter, anything but the development of cells. Yet such an argument would be discarded on why the removal of a life is appropriate or tolerable.
However to say that a developing fetus is equal to that of a birthed human seems an exaggeration. For one, a human generally speaking can experience pain and consciousness. Is it not so that a person who is considered brain dead and surviving via life support can be taken off without the charge of murder being placed on those who make the decision?
One must acutely recognize both the significance of potential human life. While the specific origin of becoming a human can be widely disputed, it should not be disputed that a pregnancy will lead to the birth of a member of the human species. If given the proper nourishment, with time said fetus will be birthed and grow up to be an adult. That is to say that it will not grow up to be a bird or lizard.
While the point may seem frivolous, it should be enough to demonstrate that the term ‘potential human life’ holds merit. Therefore it seems an issue which is not just up for public discussion but more importantly, up for public scrutiny. It should be the goal of any interested party in the matter of abortion to attempt to limit such a procedure to the smallest amount possible. In a utopian society one could say that there would be no need for abortion, though clearly the human race does not live in such a society.
On this point there should be a slight clarification, because many would say that there is no need for abortion now. When I say need, I mean to say that there would be no reason for it, that no one would get pregnant through the volatile means of rape, teenagers would not risk the possibility of a child when being promiscuous, being pregnant would never cause a problem of health for the mother, or any of the other reasons that one might opt for such termination.
So on this subject, it seems that in a sense both sides have it right while also having it slightly wrong. Those who claim “pro-life” and advocate for the removal of abortion from society do have a worthwhile goal which is worth pursuing. On the other hand those on the other side of the aisle recognize that there are situations in which a pregnancy should be terminated.
However neither quite hit the nail on the head so to speak. It comes down to the question of quality (pro-choice) versus quantity (pro-life) where both seem to hit on one point and miss on the other.
As one can see once they step outside of our tiny floating rock, life is exceedingly rare. Therefore it should not be taken with such a lightness as to be frivolous with that which can potentially become life, whether human or not. At the same time though, it seems cruel to bring life into the world without the intention of giving it some quality.
Furthermore it seems that if the way to ensure that quality has a chance while also not dismissing the simple quantity of the potential life as well is to do the best to ensure that the pregnancies that happen are not unintended. Experience has shown us two things that help abortions occur less often and incidentally help make pregnancies that do happen more often intended.
The first of those two things is sexual education and understanding. It can be said that the better one understands something the easier it is to manipulate. Therefore the better one understands the human reproduction system and means by which it reproduces, the better equipped one is to manipulate it in such a way as to avoid unwanted consequences such as accidental pregnancy and STDs.
Going hand in hand with the first point is the second which globally can be called the empowerment of women, but more centrally to the United States can be called contraception. Being educated on the correct use of contraception, whether that be a la carte such as condoms or over an extended period such as birth control pills, increases the chances of not only being knowledgeable about how to avoid the consequences of sex but also the opportunity to avoid said consequences. It is through responsibly dealing with the highly sensitive and personal subject of sex that the effects of wide spread, and quite easy, access that adverse results such as abortion can be stunted.
With the exception of some faiths, like that of the Roman Catholic Church, neither of these solutions should be controversial in the slightest. In such cases I suppose one can ask themselves if they feel that contraception and avoiding a pregnancy through such methods is the equivalent of terminating a pregnancy in progress. In the political realm, those who say that by teaching and having access to such means is to encourage them to indulge in sexual behavior do seem to be neglecting a major factor.
Regardless of whether they are taught explicitly about sex or just grow up in a culture as saturated with it as the American one is, it is human nature to be curious. It seems that those who have sex for the first time do it for at least one of two reasons, if not both. They do it because they are curious about how it feels, how it works, and other such aspects that are directly related to the prolonging of both the species and their own genetics. The other being that of compassion and a desire for a physical connection unlike any other with another person whom they feel very strongly about. This may be once they’re married or it may be in a relationship in which they feel wholly committed to.
Needless to say, neither of these impulses can truly be controlled or done away with. The alternative then seems to be that if the impulses and natural gravitation cannot be taken away then those who are in the process of growing up should at least learn to indulge in curiosity and compassion in responsible means.
With the exponential growth of the human population, such methods of being selective about the timing and advancement of reproduction becomes all the more crucial. For once the ecological and environmental capacity of a population has been reached or exceeded, that population will start to stagnate and die from simple lack of resources in which to provide for the population. It therefore seems that the burden of a child should not be pushed on to those who either cannot support it or do not want it. Thus the way to avoid this burden is to be proactive and prevent rather than reactive and terminate. So while we should ultimately hope to do away with the procedure of abortion, we should hope to do away with it because there is no longer a use, desire, or need for it, not because of the attempt to do away by force.
Developmental Week of Abortion
Age(D) / Week(A)
Up to 8 weeks
9 weeks to 13 weeks
14 weeks to 17 weeks
18 weeks to 20 weeks
After 21 weeks
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