Problem of Woman’s Right to an Abortion
Today in America, over 630,000 fetuses are aborted every year. This puts abortion as the leading cause of death in America, more than heart disease or cancer. Although many support the woman’s right to an abortion, most also recognize this right as debatable at best and immoral at worst based on the personhood status of the fetus. Women should not have the right an abortion because a fetus is a human being and has a right to life, adoption is a better alternative to abortion, and abortion can lead to physical and psychological health complications for women.
“Leaked documents” surrounding new Republican Supreme court nominee “Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing suggest” that the women’s right to an abortion may be repealed within the coming years. While democrats and republicans alike are unsure of a quick pro-life decision being passed, the new majority Republican seating within the judicial branch may bring such a decision to a head. The more conservative abortion stance of Trump era Republicans does however call into question the longevity of the Roe v. Wade ruling (Hasselbacher). The information age has given way to new avenues for information to flow through the political sphere. The millennial generation in particular has become increasingly influential in the sense that they often determine “whether a policy had the cultural support needed to convince politicians to implement it.” Although it has become clear that millennials lean more liberal on topics such as gay marriage and climate change,” their presence on the internet has revealed how they have rejected the liberal stance on abortion. This may reflect a near future where both ends of the political spectrum may eventually become more conservative in regards to abortion (Kurtinitis). Scientists analyzed the prenatal development of the human zygote and compared it to the development of other mammalian species. They found that the genetic material of the human zygote is programmed to uniquely develop only in the human somatic cell by observing how the “human cell halted at the morula stage” . In contrast other species such as mice can have their genome inserted to somatic cells of other species, including a human’s, and is “able to reprogram to a pluripotent state”.
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This uniquely human trait strongly supports the idea that zygotes are distinctly human because they demonstrate human exclusive traits from the moment of conception (Flauman, Janez, Miklavcic). The human zygote “has an individual human nature encoded in its DNA” at the moment of conception that distinctly makes it a human. It is clearly defined scientifically as a human being by its genetic code. Even pro-choice activists realize that a zygote has a human qualities at conception such as prominent figure Bernard Nathanson who admits that “There is simply no doubt that even the early embryo is a human being” (Wilcox). Beyond just a scientific perspective on human status at birth, there are also logical and argumentative issues that must be addressed. Pope John Paul II touches on these issues by explaining that there should not be “mere probability that a human person is involved” when there is intention to end the life of an embryo. Because a fertilized human egg displays all the genetic traits of a human (eg. complete genome) the burden of proof lies in the hands of abortion activists to show why it is not a human or an individual (Miklavcic, Janez, Flauman).
Abortions are often touted as safe procedures but even in America with a an expansive health care system there are many risks in an abortion procedure. Some potential risks include infection of the pelvis and uterus, damage to the cervix and uterus wall, and anesthesia related complications all of which require “further medical procedures.” (Louisiana Department of Health). Women seeking abortions often face severe and often dangerous mental health risks. Women who have an abortion procedure are more likely than women who have miscarriages “to have one or more mental health disorders.” Women were much more likely to have depression, suicidal thoughts, and drug dependency if they underwent an abortion compared to all other pregnancy outcomes (Wilcox). Women who have an abortion with an infection or have multiple abortions are more likely to have pregnancy complications. Women are all unique in their psychology so mental impacts of abortion are all unique depending on the individual. That said, abortion may lead to negative emotions associated with “a sense of emptiness or guilt, wondering whether or not her decision was right.” Outside circumstances may also increase the risk of negative emotions such as existing emotional tension or they “may be related to past events in her life” (Louisiana Department of Health).
Although pregnancy is often inconvenient for women, abortion is not the only alternative to it. Adoption allows for women who are not fully “mature, emotionally [or] financially stable parents” to give their child to another family who want a child of their own. Adoption also allows for women to avoid the negative physical and mental health problems associated with abortion. Various groups also provide “counseling and financial assistance to adoption services” in order to give women greater access to adoption centers (Wilcox). For women considering abortion there may seem to be very few option besides such a procedure, however there are thousands of families across the country who face infertility problems and want a child they can never have. “Approximately 7% of married couples” in America have experienced difficulty in achieving pregnancy.
This figure accounts for approximately 2 million couples nationwide and additionally “more than six million women” have trouble conceiving . Furthermore as college admission rates rise and people spend more of their time in education or working, the infertility rate will likely increase with time. As such, it becomes an increasingly better solution for women to give their children to adoption facilities rather than have abortions in order to fill the demand for young children in this time of rising infertility (Fiddler Bernstein). Adoption is a great alternative to abortion because it also allows for children to reach their innate potential. Though it is impossible to tell whether the lost children would have gone on to be world leaders, some would have “surely enriched society, growing up to be teachers, doctors, first responders, conservationists, or simply loving parents, raising and nurturing the next generation.” For example, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was adopted and was able to achieve many things during his life. He was quoted as saying that he was “glad [he] didn’t end up as an abortion.” Adoption gives children the chance to achieve great thing while abortion cuts their lives short (Wilcox).
While conservatives claim that personhood begins at conception, this statement is misleading at best. While it is true that the zygote has a new unique DNA sequence, the DNA does not necessarily mean that it is a human. “It is merely the instructions to create a person” rather than the person itself. Furthermore the zygote is also unstable in its development in that it often splits and combines to form ‘new’ identical twins. Pro-life advocates forget that “many millions more have been aborted by women’s bodies” (Wilcox). While the zygote itself may seem very far from a fully developed human outside the wound, it is an even worse, and potentially dangerous, decision to judge personhood based on appearances. Creating arbitrary lines between a human and nonhuman is a “dangerous practice that has had horrific consequences” similar to movements where appearances were used to take advantage of African slaves. Dehumanizing fetuses based on its appearance is a wrongful judgement echoed throughout history (Wilcox).
When a female egg cell is fertilized, it becomes a zygote and is set on “a series of divisions called cleavage” that will allow it to eventually develop into a human if it is not inhibited. During fertilization a zygote gains a new, unique genetic code that explicitly differentiates it from the mother or father. The fact that the zygote is not yet complete does not make it any less of an individual or any less of a human (Miklavcic). While there are other proposals to the origins of human life besides life beginning at fertilization, the inconsistencies and scientific evidence shows that life does indeed begin at conception and thus qualifies a zygote as a human being. Not only does the zygote have a unique genetic code, but it also has unique human qualities such as its somatic cells that can be observed at conception. Other logical discrepancies in theories that the beginning of personhood is after fertilization further refute such claims (Miklavcic).