GRSJ224/abortion in USA

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What is abortion? According to the definition of merriam-webster online dictionary, it is “a medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus.[1]. Abortion is subject to many discussions. Abortion is a touch subject and as such, it has two major standpoints that stir up much debate over the years. The two standpoints are pro-life, or the belief that the fetus inside the mother's womb is a human life and going through abortion would constitute murder, and pro-choice, the belief that the mother has the right whether to give birth or go through abortion [2]. While this subject ultimately falls to one side or the other, most Americans do not strictly choose one side or the other. For, example, some pro-life supporters believe that if the unborn child is conceived due to rape or incest, then abortion should be allowed. [3] On the other hand, supporters of pro-choice simply wants women to have control of their own reproductive freedom and control of their decision and not necessarily support or advocate abortion. Disregarding one’s biases or view on this topic, as a reader, it is very important to understand the position of both standpoints. The more one knows about this controversy topic, the more prepared you are when choosing a side regarding abortion.

Pro Life vs Pro Choice

This section for all intent and purposes describe and defines the two perspective. This by no means takes into consideration of other contributing variables such as social-economic statues, race, class, environmental resources etc.

Pro Life

There are many supporters for Pro life and for good reasons too. Some argue that abortion is murder as it takes away the life of a human; albeit that has yet to been born. As far as human civilization goes, no lasting society allows the right to take the life of another human without any ramification. Why should abortion be any different? There are currently 1.5 million American families wanting to adopt a child, and therefore, pro-lifers argue that abortion should not happen! In addition, abortion creates health issues later in life; the risk of ectopic pregnancies doubles, and the chance of a miscarriage and pelvic inflammatory disease also increases. Even in the instance of rape and incest, taking the proper medicine will ensure that the unfortunate individual will not be pregnant. To summarize all these points, abortion should be avoided at all cost. It is not the fault of the unborn child; rather, the perpetrator should be the one facing ramification. [4]

Pro Choice

Supporters of Pro Choice point out that most abortions take place in the first trimester where the fetus is not yet fully developed and cannot survive independently of the mother. Fetus at this stage is still connected to the mother by the placenta and the umbilical cord and is therefore not its own separate entity as its health depends on the mother. By this account, abortion is not murder as the fetus is not yet regarded as human life. From a biological standpoint, fertilized eggs used for in vitro fertilization that are not implanted are systematically discarded, how is this different to abortion? As for adoption, few woman are willing to give their child up to other caregivers - less than 3% of white unmarried women and less than 2% of black unmarried women. [5] In addition, serious medical problem is exaggerate by pro-lifers. With advancement in modern medication, safe medical abortions have less than 0.5% risk of serious complications and do not affect a woman's health or future ability to become pregnant or give birth. [6] Forcing pregnancy on a woman can also create psychological harm as well, such as the case in rape and incest. Shaming or berating women over abortion is a violation of their civil rights.

Socio-economic reasons

Pro-Choice supporters thought it would be unethical to have children for whom they were not able to provide for. The main concern for most of these mothers is the future of their child. They do not want their children to grow up in an environment less than ideal.[7]

Bodily integrity

Judith Jarvis Thomson introduced the argument of how bodily integrity justifies abortion. She claims that even if the fetus has a right to live the abortion is morally acceptable since a women has a right to her own body and functions of her life supporting functions.[8]

Sexual Inequality

Depriving the women to the right of an abortion can be viewed as a form of female oppression and showcases sexual inequality between the two sexes. Furthermore, there is also a debate on how much influence does the potential father have in the decision of the potential mother in undergoing a abortion.[9]

Systematic Issues of Abortion in US

Abortion is not simply Pro Life vs. Pro Choice. Aforementioned, there are many other contributing confounding variables that influence the decision made by a pregnant women. This section will examine some of the injustice faced by woman when dealing with abortion.

Gender Issues

Is it proper to shoulder all the responsibilities of abortion upon the mother and the doctor only? When examining the issue of abortion, the father of the unborn child should also be included in the discussion. The father of the child is half the reason why an undesired pregnancy occurred in the first place; therefore, its only natural that the father also plays a role in the decision making of the abortion. He should be there to take responsibility for the pregnancy and offer emotional and financial support to the pregnant mother. This means that it’s not only the mother who needs to take ownership of the situation caused by the pregnancy, it is also the father's duty as well, as the unborn baby is his own. However, the way society works does not enforce such responsibility. The father is being told that the abortion is not his business and is entirely up to the mother and the doctor. Ironically, abortion degrades a woman's reputation while it let men to sexually exploit woman without any fear of taking responsibility for any child conceived. [10] Basically, if a woman gets pregnant, all a man needs to do is basically to pay for the abortions fees and then he is off the hook, whereas the woman is to be blamed for killing the poor innocent baby. The so called "abortion right" is just a way for men to control the reproductive freedom of women. How can gender equality be addressed if abortion is only considered the problem of a woman and not her partner? Abortion is a human issue and it has profound impact on both men and women. Abortion takes life away from an innocent human being and both gender are morally obligated to stand in opposition to abortion. [10]

Politics Issues

See this page:

Race Issues

Largely missing from the debate, though, is discussion of abortion’s racial disparity: Although rates among Hispanic and African-American women have decreased along with the rest of the country, they remain significantly higher than the national average [11].There is a huge discrepancy of abortion rate between rate and some of the reason can be economic reasons, issues related to racism, differences in opportunities, differences in social and historical context.[11] In most cases, financial support is a decisive factor in the decision making of a pregnant woman. According to the Pew research center, the median wealth of white households is 18 times that of Hispanic households and 20 times that of black households but across the board, low-income women have a higher rate of unintended pregnancy and abortion regardless of race. [12]. Given this noticeable difference in wealth in these minority race, they cannot afford health care and or health insurance. [13].Therefore, birth control would be extremely difficult during sexual intercourse. In a separate report, abortion rate is down with the ever increasing popularity of contraceptive intrauterine devices (IUDs) [11]. However, IUD also one of the most expensive methods of birth control and is not an option for woman with lower income.

Religious Issues


The Christian tradition has always emphasized human life. One of the earliest Christian writings, the Didache or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles states: "You shall not kill the child in the womb or murder a new-born infant.” [14]

The Catholic Church

The Catholic Church does not agree with abortion because it believes that all life should be cherished. (17)[15] Pope John Paul II wrote a letter called the Gospel of Life. In this letter he discusses the human life from its very beginning and the conflict between the culture of life and culture of death.


Islam teaches that an unborn child has certain rights such as the right to care, protection and life. In the Islamic holy book Al’Quran. “Do not kill or take a human life which God as declared to be sacred“[16]

See this page:

Social-economic statues Issues

When controlling for income level, it is still the case that minorities have a higher rate of abortion. African-American women at every income level has a consistent higher unintended pregnancy and abortion rates over their white counterpart. [17] Some reasons for this phenomenon can be attribute to the language and cultural barrier that prevent certain immigrants from obtaining birth control or if they are illegal immigrants, a fear of legal ramification. In addition, it is demonstrated in a study that black and Hispanic adolescents have less exposure to the education of birth control as well as reproductive health compared to their white peers. [18] In the same study, the effect of race was also examined. Women of color have reported cases of discrimination where their doctors suggest the usage contraceptives and limit their family size. Facing such discrimination, this study speculates, may discourage these women from seeking out the proper heath care and reproductive counsel at all.

Social Justice and Health Care Issues

Limits on Medication Abortion is a grievous method of tormenting woman. It forces them to give birth disregarding their situations. However, some states have enacted several restrictive legislation that specifically target medication abortion in the recent times. Since April 2014, three US states: Arizona, Ohio, and Texas have a new medication abortion "hew closely to an outdated regimen specified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when medication abortion was first approved" [19] These restrictive legislation now prohibit alternative, evidence-based protocols that were commonly practiced in the past decades. In addition, fourteen states require that medication abortion be provided only by a physician who is in the same room as the patient. [20]

These new restrictions implanted on medication abortion place much unnecessary burden on women and also deny abortions in certain communities; especially the rural areas as there is no adequate physicians presented to ensure proper abortion procedures. As the FDA prohibits it otherwise. Given that only physicians and not other health professionals such as physician assistants and advanced practice nurses is permitted to provide medication abortion [20], access to medical abortion is restricted for woman, as a woman may have to wait a long time for an appointment and travel long distances to visit a clinic attended by a physician. Laws requiring the physical presence of the physician essentially rule out provision by telemedicine. [20]

On top of all that, in another report, twenty-four states have laws essentially banning abortion coverage in plans that are offered through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces, including nine states that ban insurance coverage of abortion more broadly in all private insurance plans regulated by the state. [21] These new implanted legislation enact restriction upon women by anti-abortion politicians, allowing them to gain popularity with voters upon their expense. It takes away their reproductive freedom as it severally affects "poor women’s health decisions by sharply limiting abortion coverage for women who rely on Medicaid". [20] The consequences of these unjust restriction is extremely evident; due to the fact that poor woman cannot use their coverage—they often have to delay their abortion procedure because they require more time to raise funds to pay for their procedure. Moreover, one in four women enrolled in Medicaid and subjected to these restrictions would have had an abortion if coverage was available are forced to carry their pregnancy to term. [20] Evidently, politician manipulate voters’ opinions by limiting the reproductive freedom of woman and the current system allow them to get away with it. This injustice must be address before any rational debate continuous over abortion.

Future Directions

The topic of abortion is still a much controversial topic. There are many issues that must be examined and addressed before any actions can be taken. All the aforementioned issues contribute to the decision a woman is forced to make. We must understand the hardship and discrimination a woman goes through during this turmoil period of their lives. Though both perspectives of abortion has its valid points, there are many different issues that play a role. Given that, there will not be a clear right or wrong between the two sides.

However, is it fair to subject women to such physical and psychological trauma? Women living in states that are against abortion go through much more indignities when trying to go through an abortion. From bogus “informed consent” procedures and waiting periods to unnecessary and costly ultrasound mandates, women seeking an abortion are subjected to restrictions not imposed on any other legal medical procedure [20]. With the increasing anti-abortions movement in the states, more and more clinics are closing in many states and obtaining medical abortion becomes more and more difficult. Simply put, restrictions on abortion make the procedure more costly—financially and in terms of women’s health and safety.


  1. Definition of abortion,
  4. Pro life,
  5. Pro choice,
  6. Pro choice,
  7. Sands, Diane. “Using Oral History to Chart the Course of Illegal Abortions in Montana.” University of Nebraska Press. 7.1 (1983): 32-37. Web 20 Jan. 2015. <http.//>
  8. Judith Jarvis Thomson “A Defence of Abortion” From Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 1, no. 1 (Fall 1971).
  9. Rosemary Goring “Why Gender Inequality is Pushing up Abortion Rate” The Herald <>
  10. 10.0 10.1 Gender,
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 race effect,
  12. Pew,
  13. health,
  14. Nicole Youngman "Justifying Homicide: Christian Terrorists Targets Abortion Providers" Off Our Backs Vol. 25, No. 7 (july 1995), pp. 8-9, 18 <>
  15. Joseph J. Leon and Patricia G. Steinhoff "Catholics' Use of Abortion" Sociological Analysis Vol. 36, No. 2 (Summer, 1975), pp. 125-136 <>
  16. Nicole Youngman "Justifying Homicide: Christian Terrorists Targets Abortion Providers" Off Our Backs Vol. 25, No. 7 (july 1995), pp. 8-9, 18 <>
  18. report,
  19. Guttmacher Institute, Medication abortion,
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 14 states,
  21. report,