A Reflection on Abortion by Sofia D’Amico

Killing is wrong. We learn this simple and straightforward fact from a very young age, whether it comes in the form of seeing the public devastation after a terrorist attack or simply being told to free a spider outside instead of smashing it.  In spiritual terms, many religions also view killing as a wrongdoing.  Morally, America purports to value life and equality.  Why then is abortion acceptable and legal, when the purpose of abortion is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy?  To any moral and thoughtful citizen, this should be provocative and even disturbing.  Abortion is a procedure that has gained significant attention and press within the last decade as America has experienced a strong shift to the preservation and protection of human rights.  People are torn in the case of abortion, because whose rights need protecting: the mother’s, or the baby’s?  American citizens often promote equality and human rights for all, and although many believe it is a woman’s right to have the ability to choose whether to have an abortion, the act of abortion itself is a violation of human rights, as it is the tragic terminating of a human life.

Marching with us were many young women holding signs that made statements like: “I regret my abortion” and  “My only child became medical waste.”

When I was 10 years old my mother and I attended a Walk for Life parade in San Francisco.  We marched with several thousand people to protest abortion and spread pro-life awareness. Marching with us were many young women holding signs that made statements like: “I regret my abortion” and  “My only child became medical waste.” It was after this event that I further looked into the facts surrounding abortion and read many women’s stories online.  I found a common thread among the stories: that the idea of undergoing a medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy is not only about the death of an unborn child, but the negative effects it may have on the woman as well.  Interested in the psychological side of the argument, I asked myself: what makes a miscarriage a tragedy, and an abortion a right?  Both can occur during the same time periods through pregnancy, and both involve death.  The difference is how we perceive them.  Society projects the message that if it is your choice to abort a child, it is your right and you should be granted the ability to do so, while a miscarriage is considered a tragedy because the mother did not want her pregnancy to terminate.  This arbitrary tragedy is refuted by pro-lifers, who believe that both scenarios are death, and both are tragic.

Through recent history, abortions have gained significant attention, especially with our country’s current awareness of rape, preventative measures surrounding it, and survivor care.  Many argue that abortion should remain legal and available for women who have been victims of rape.  However, studies show that most women’s choices to get abortions have involved elective reasoning.  This means that of the women who have undergone abortions, most have done so for reasons other than rape, such as bad timing in their life, influence from family and friends, and emotional unpreparedness.  According to a poll conducted by Lawrence B. Finer et al., 92% of abortions occur electively on healthy women carrying healthy fetuses.  

Feminists for Life, an organization of women who believe that women deserve better than abortion, argue the fact that abortion is not a right, but a demonstration that the rights and needs of women have not been met.  Feminists for Life urge people to look deeper into the global roots of abortions and why women are driven to abortion as a choice.  They pose the question: why must women choose between having a child, or education, or employment, and undergo an invasive and physically and mentally consequential procedure?  According to the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, if you are a garment worker in Cambodia or India at a factory supplying products to stores such as H&M or Forever 21, becoming pregnant can cause you to lose your job.  What we are seeing is that the root of the problem lies in pregnancy being seen as something that will cost a woman her career plan or education.  While not as extreme here in the United States, even here, pregnancy is viewed by many as a hindrance or an inconvenience.  Abortion is often marketed by companies such as Planned Parenthood as something that will save women their futures.  It is important to note that girls as young as 10 are seeing ads like these for Planned Parenthood and the “morning after” pill.  This can plant a seed in their minds early on in life that pregnancy is something that can hurt their future, and that abortion is a healthy and just option to preserve their options.  In order to truly protect women’s rights we must find solutions for this issue so that women, in our country and abroad, don’t have to choose between aborting their child or their future opportunities.

Science plays a large part in exposing the problems with abortion.  According to AbortionFacts.com, which gathers factual information from sources such as John C. Willke, M.D., Barbara H. Willke, R.N., and John Jefferson Davis, Ph.D., new life is formed at the moment of conception when DNA is specific to a fertilized human zygote. This lends credence to the idea that abortion does kill a human being, not simply “cells.”  In addition, AbortionFacts.com argues that abortion is an issue of rights, and that the right to not be pregnant is not equal to the right to live; the latter is a life or death matter, while the former is not.  Paul Stark, a writer for Life News and a member of the staff of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, a state pro-life organization, discusses how fetal development science supports the fact that life begins at the moment of conception.  When a sperm and an egg meet after intercourse, the sperm and egg are not separate beings, but have come together to form a zygote with 46 new chromosomes, 23 from mother and 23 from father.  A zygote develops into an embryo and the embryo develops into a fetus.  As depicted in the graphic included, this progression is much like the one from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, with every stage being just as important, and just as human.  

In fact, the human genetic DNA of the new cell is unique, unlike any other in existence.  It is human DNA that is different from both mother and father. Therefore, an abortion involves much more than just a woman and her body–it most certainly affects another human life.  Science also proves that after just 22 days, a cardiovascular system has begun to form, and the child can circulate his own blood and has his own heartbeat.  The unborn meets the requirements for life: cellular reproduction, metabolism, reaction to stimuli, and growth.  The presence of growth is a good indicator of life, as both born and unborn organisms continue to grow; if they did not, they would be dead.  Science proves to us that legitimate human life in the womb begins at the moment of conception and supports the argument that abortion compromises the human rights of both parties involved.

Clearly, there are two main sides in the abortion debate: pro-life (anti-abortion), and pro-choice (advocating legal abortion).  Pro-choice individuals often argue that it should be a woman’s choice to have an abortion or not, that her privacy is her right, and decisions like abortion are intimate.  While these contentions may have some merit, in the end, abortion can be simplified to a moral dilemma.  With the extensive scientific knowledge about abortion, and what is really occurring, how can one still morally undergo this procedure?  Despite whether or not a woman exercises the right to her fertility, and if the decision was made in private, what makes it an okay decision?  It only appears to support women’s rights and is the terminating of a precious life.  The pro-choice camp promotes abortion insofar as it doesn’t oppose it.  The pro-life position is the one that stands for women, their unborn children, and is based on the concept that all life is precious.  

We need more focus on the issues surrounding abortion.  America is built upon equality and the right to life, yet abortion is still morally acceptable to many and is legal.  

We must stay true to our values as a country–and as moral individuals–to protect all life, whether it be that of an endangered animal, the environment, or an unborn child.

We must stay true to our values as a country–and as moral individuals–to protect all life, whether it be that of an endangered animal, the environment, or an unborn child.  Individuals need to be more educated on the science behind conception.  We need to halt the message that pregnancy can mean no future or career.  If people are educated, open-minded, and proactive, we can end the widespread support of abortion and ultimately end the killing of innocent unborn human beings.

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