Exploring the Abortion Issue
When it comes to abortion one can not state that there is simply a conflict between a woman’s right to privacy/autonomy of her body (i.e. the right to choose) and the right to life (particularly the right of the fetus to be born). It is also not adequate to claim that the alternating theories of when life is created is at the core of the conflict over abortion, because the definition of the creation of life does not determine when and why the state will protect the right of the life of the fetus. The overlying issue is a combination of both claims. By carefully analyzing the moral and empirical claims surrounding the abortion issue, we believe that the best position for our candidate is one of pro-choice with some restrictions.
In the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, Supreme Court Justice Blackbun upheld the position of a woman’s right to privacy, and that the states’ influence over the future of the fetus is more compelling at the stage of fetus viability (Rosenbaum). In his statement, Justice Blackbun did not define when life is created. The NARAL foundation claims that the state does not have the responsibility to “define one’s own conception of existence [the creation of life]” but exerts that it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that women have the right to make decisions about their bodies. This pro-choice decision can be influenced motivations, circumstances and consequences of abortions; the same is true for pro-life positions.
Abortion was legal in the United States since its conception until the mid-nineteenth century (Staggenborg). At the beginning of the 19th century abortion was legal before “quickening,” which usually falls around the second trimester (Staggenborg). By the 1850’s formally educated doctors were experience competition from “illegitimate” doctors that provided abortion services and thus these legitimate doctors began a successful antiabortion campaign led by the newly formed American Medical Association (Staggenborg). During WWI and the Great Depression illegal abortions saw a significant increase and began to call the attention of social workers and doctors across the country. With the aide of the anti-war and civil rights movements during the 1960’s, the campaign for abortions rights (repeal or reform) was able to gather major support, which lead to the organization of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (Staggenborg).
In 1962 Sherri Finkbine took a drug called thalidomide during her pregnancy and learned that it could cause deformities to her fetus. She wanted to abort the fetus and was refused services and in the United States. Finkbine ended up going to Sweden where she aborted a deformed fetus (Gratz). In 1964 a rubella outbreak, which causes damage to the fetus, influenced attitudes toward abortion rights. Many women--particularly poor women, during this outbreak were denied abortion services (Gratz). The Hyde Amendment,...