Why Legal Abortion is Vital for the Safety, Health & Freedom of Women

What is this ban on abortion? It is a survival of the veiled face, of the barred window and the locked door, burning, branding, mutilation, stoning, of all the grip of ownership and superstition come down on woman, thousands of years ago.” – Stella Browne

Does person-hood begin in the womb or after birth? Is abortion the murdering of an innocent human child or is it simply terminating a mass of cells? What do abortion rights have to do with women’s equality? Why even talk about abortion in the first place?

Why we need to talk about abortion.

I know you may be wondering why I would even want to discuss abortion when it appears as though most people have made up their minds on this debate, and there’s no turning back for them. However, this notion is wrong. Change is possible. Opinions and moral convictions are not stable. Remember the good old days when society condemned premarital sex and divorce?

Our views on abortion are evolving rapidly, just like the topics that people have debated over in the past, such as child labour, the voting rights of women, and slavery. All of these issues are now universally agreed upon. It’s vital that we discuss abortion so that awareness can be brought about.

A woman is a person. So…?

“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” Margaret Sanger

To begin, I give you the basic premise that women are indeed persons, and therefore deserve equal rights, respect and dignity as do all other persons. There is no longer a question about the person-hood of women. Although the reality of equality has not completely been attained, we can agree that women are people. Therefore, I believe that women should have the ability to make decisions about what is and isn’t good for themselves. It is without a doubt that women have the right to autonomy and one cannot have true autonomy if they do not have it over their own physical bodies.

What is in debate here is at what point does person-hood begin? Some say it starts at conception, others when the zygote becomes a fetus and some say it begins when the baby is born. It’s a question which is disputed by many.

What is person-hood anyway? And how does one define it?

When deciding if one is a person or not, there are a few key questions to ask.

1. Can the entity act in the world and respond to its environment?

2. Is the entity aware of its own existence?

3. Does the entity possess rights and duties?

4. If it can claim the right to live, does it live independently?

I will now examine these questions and provide answers as to whether or not a prenatal organism should be considered a person.

      1. A fetus cannot act in the world nor respond to the environment except in response to it’s provider’s body, its mother.
      2. A fetus and even newborn babies do not yet have awareness of their own state, emotions or motivations. It is not self aware and therefore cannot acknowledge it’s own existence. We also cannot disregard the state in which the fetus exists within it’s mother’s womb; the fetus is asleep, surrounded by darkness and connected to a placenta which provides the nutrients and blood necessary for growth. The fetus is actually in a sedated state due to the low oxygen pressure and substances provided by the placenta which cause sleep; such as steroidal anesthetics.
      3. A fetus cannot possess rights or duties unless it is sentient and self-aware.
      4. Let’s say that the fetus should have a right to life. If this is true, it should also be living independently. A fetus cannot do this because it can only live while being attached to and being nourished by it’s mother. It requires it’s mother’s life to live.

Based on the answers to the questions listed above, a fetus does not have true person-hood.

What a fetus looks like at 12 weeks, contrary to some misinformed beliefs of pro-life advocates:

When abortion is illegal, women are not safe.

Women are not dying because of diseases we cannot treat. They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving.” Prof. Mahmoud Fathalla,MD, PhD

Whenever a country has tried to outlaw abortion, it has only lead to dangerous consequences for women. Many women have died or have been injured when abortion was illegal due to unsafe practices. This is why people have fought so hard to have the right to choose. Why would we go back in time knowing that it will cause harm towards all women?

If we seriously honor and respect the individual rights of people, then we cannot possibly return to the horrifying idea of laws that will both force women to bear children against their will and force women into getting dangerous abortions.

Not all women who get pregnant can have safe pregnancies.

Many women who suffer with heart disease, sickle-cell anemia, kidney disease, severe diabetes and other illnesses require that they have an abortion because of the potential life-threatening consequences a pregnancy or childbirth could have on them and/or the fetus.

An accidental pregnancy or a rape can destroy a woman’s life if she does not have access to abortion.

It is a horrendous idea that some people are trying to push, that even if a woman is raped she should not have an abortion. It could bring her economic, emotional and personal freedom to an absolute halt. Even a consensual but accidental pregnancy could have a devastating effect on a woman’s life. Forcing someone to have a child they did not want takes away all of her personal choice.

Therefore, I believe it is vital that women have the right to choose what happens to their own body and that abortion be legal. It is vital for their safety, health, and for their freedom and autonomy as an individual human being.

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16 thoughts on “Why Legal Abortion is Vital for the Safety, Health & Freedom of Women

  1. Wow, this article is so extremely biased and just simply ridiculous in so many ways. I can’t believe a link to this blog showed up on my Facebook.

    This is also quite offensive to me. You’re basically trying to tell me that it would have been perfectly okay if I were aborted for no reason when I was in the womb. You’re telling me that biologically, my existence has no value unless and/or until I posses your “standards”.

    • D, I’m sorry but you missed the entire purpose of this article. The purpose is that a woman has the right to chose whether she keeps the embryo or not. You happened to be lucky because your parents were (I’m assuming) in a loving relationship and had the capability of bringing you up in a healthy and nurturing environment. Unfortunately not all parents have that ability.

      Medically speaking a fetus is not a person at the stages in which abortion takes place. If you were aborted, you wouldn’t have existed at that point, so your argument is moot. This is not a case of a woman saying “I think I will go out and get an abortion today”, this is done because some women feel it is necessary as they don’t have the means or mental capability. As with freedom of speech, we don’t protect peoples right to say what we agree with but instead protect their right to say anything. Those are the principles our that our nation has been built on, and those are the principles we need to protect. Whether we agree with them or not. This article is not promoting or encouraging abortion but it is simply all about an individuals right to choose.

    • it would have been alright. it would have been alright if my mom aborted before i was born. motherhood by choice not chance. i wouldnt want to be born against my mothers wishes

  2. I don’t see how whether a child is a product of rape or not has anything to do with whether or not it should be aborted. From the perspective of someone who believes in rights for the unborn, the actions of its father are irrelevant. If your father went and raped someone, it would be ridiculous to advocate punishing you for his crime. Similarly, a child that is the product of rape should not be killed because it’s father is a rapist.

    As for “what qualifies as a person” in this article, you seem to set a very high standard for “personhood”.

    People who are incarcerated or severely disabled may lack the ability to interact with their world – a prisoner is stuck behind four walls; a quadriplegic cannot eat, bathe, use the bathroom, etc. without assistance.

    Some people who are severely mentally disabled may also be “unaware of their existance”. At the very least, it would be difficult to assess whether they are or not.

    The severely handicapped also do not have any duties in society – for criminal actions, they can be ruled not criminally responsible due to mental defect. Are they not entitled to rights and protections? Should the disabled be euthanised?

    The fourth point is once again one of “living independently”, something that the severely mentally or physically disabled, as well as young children, are incapable of doing.

    By your measure, many living, breathing human beings are not “persons”.

    What I am suggesting is not a slippery slope fallacy – some abortion advocates ARE advocating infanticide.

    http://www.bioedge.org/index.php/bioethics/bioethics_article/9950

    http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2012/02/22/medethics-2011-100411.abstract

    As an atheist and free-thinker, it I am appalled by the all-too-commonplace belief among atheists that human life, particularly for the most vulnerable members of society, has no value. The argument of many religious people that atheists are amoral is, unfortunately, often correct.

  3. Pingback: Response to Pro-Choice Blogger: You’re Begging the Question

    • uncloseyourmind? i know you. my friend maya and i made a response video to you about rape. you false dmcd us. you act cowardly. forced motherhood helps no one. until there is a full proof contraceptive, abortion will be a necessary backup

  4. “An accidental pregnancy or a rape can destroy a woman’s life IF SHE DOES NOT HAVE ACCESS TO ABORTION.”

    Excuse me!?!?! Do you mean to say that getting raped won’t cause unimaginable pain and lasting grief for the woman unless she gets pregnant? That argument makes it sound like having an abortion will somehow just make it all better! It completely trivializes everything that woman has gone through. I’m not saying that carrying a baby to term that was conceived in rape would be easy or would somehow make the situation better, but neither would having an abortion! No matter if the woman gets pregnant or not and has an abortion or not she will never be able to forget and it might very well shatter her life. That argument makes it sound like you are saying the problem will magically disappear with an abortion.

  5. As long as men are free to commit adultery and fornicate with women, as long as men can walk free of marital and financial responsibility, women will be fighting for the rights to early abortions. There is a tendency to put it all on the woman, to make the ‘sperm donor’ ‘water under the bridge’, the taxpayers’ liability. The BIBLE never refers to abortions, but much about male responsibility and sex sin. There is a reason for that- abortions are ‘results’ not causes.

  6. I think this is an extremely well written and educated article. Its amazing how people are so backwards in their thinking they have actually convinced themselves that women should not even have THE RIGHT to choose weather or not they want to concieve. There are a thousand reasons a woman may want an abortion. Some may be rape or incest others may be medical. I do think it is 100% okay for any woman to abort a baby that she does not want because no woman on this earth has an abortion “for fun” or because “it is easy” because abortion is anything but easy, fun or non painful. I think society needs to give women space and privacy to make these decisions on their own. Basically its no ones place to judge these women, they have their own issues they’re battling without the judgement and arguments and critisism of others who have never been in their shoes.

  7. Pingback: Response to Pro-Choice Blogger: You’re Begging the Question « Life Report

  8. Though I agree that abortion should be a decision of the parents I am simply shocked by your queries of PERSONHOOD. The way you put your questions reminded me of some patriarchs. For instant, you say if a it cannot live independently in this world, it’s not a person. HELLLO!!!! Does a newly born child live on its own? No! Even according to old patrarchial thinking, women were not able to live independently.
    Ridiculous arguments to a grave issue.

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