Abortion – A Matter Of Choice Abortion A MATTER OF CHOICE The topic of abortion is one of the most controversial of our times. It has caused countless deaths and several violent confrontations between the two separate parties of opinion. The fight between pro-life and pro-choice supporters has been long and brutal. This is because, despite what several people may believe, abortion is neither right nor wrong. It is a matter of personal opinion.
In this way, each side can say with certainty that the other is wrong. Therefore the question remains; should abortion be legal? Though some may disagree on this point, the fact is that legalized abortion is the only option that will protect the lives of American citizens. One only needs to look into American history to see the results of prohibiting abortions to women. The violence which occurs today because the of pro-choice/pro-life conflicts is minimal in comparison to the thousands of hopeless women who turned to the illegal abortions –either self-inflicted or preformed by the backroom professionals– which resulted in infection, massive blood loss, and death. It is better now that they have a place to go where abortions can be performed cleanly and with minimal risk. Legalization of abortion is the only choice no matter what side one takes in the debate. Women will try to do what they think is necessary to live as they wish, no matter what the risk. In order to live as she chooses a woman may give up her freedom, her morals, her beliefs, her family, or even her life. Abortion has been around for thousands of years in every inhabited corner of the globe.
It has always been accepted as a means to prevent the suffering of both woman and potential child. It has been practiced widely in every society for many reasons including famine, war, poverty, overpopulation, or simply because a woman felt she was not ready for a child (Whitney 40). No one ever questioned a woman’s right to this procedure. After all, who but God had the right to judge what a woman did with her own body? This thought process lasted till the 1800’s. During this era of change people began to turn their attention in a new direction, the fetus. They began to protest abortion as cruel, inhumane, and murderous. Filled with a new sense of purpose and the glory of a fresh, righteous cause to uphold this new morality swept the countryside enveloping everyone in its wake.
Abortionists who were once revered and depended upon were now scorned and threatened. Though abortions still happened with regularity, they were kept silent and seen as a matter of shame. Over the next hundred years, public sentiment for the fetus continued to rise until the inevitable happened in America during the early 40’s; Abortion was made illegal. (Cohen 17). There was much back patting and congratulations among the pro-life supporters. And why not? They had succeeded in saving the lives of the hundreds of innocent babies who would have been senselessly slaughtered for the convenience of selfish, ignorant, and irresponsible women.
Because of this new law, women would settle down and raise families or give these beautiful children over into the hands of the hundreds of loving couples who were just waiting for a baby to call their own. It seemed that the perfect law had just been passed. Or had it? It has been proven time and time again throughout history that the human spirit will not allow prohibition. Something inside us feels the need to strike out at that which restrains us and holds us from the life we want. Just as prohibition of alcohol made a black market for liquor (a virtual underworld was immediately erected to fulfill the new need for abortions). Government, through regulation, had once again created a need that would be fulfilled by the lawless.
Most doctors, fearing incarceration, refused to treat the women who so desperately wanted abortions. Women, seeing no other solution to their problems, were often desperate enough to turn to these Back Room clinics. These clinics were located in poverty-ridden sections of the city and their conditions were deplorable. The places themselves were layered in filth and disease. Inexperienced butchers using dirty and crude equipment treated the girls.
As if these backroom clinics were not bad enough, there was an even more appalling decision a woman might face. If a she were unable to pay the exorbitant price for the illegal surgery, she would often perform the act herself. Knitting needles, coat hangers, antiseptic douches and poisons were used most often (Welton 123). Emergency rooms primarily in the more urban areas were reporting higher numbers of intractable bleeding to the point of death. Pelvic inflammatory disease and other forms of life threatening sepsis were on the rise. Self induced poisoning was another complication. (Boyer, 98). Partial abortions were also commonplace.
One thing most people do not think about is the fetus. If, as some say, life and the sense of self begins at conception, how many atrocities have been caused by the incompetence shown during this time? Some may wonder what drove these women to such extremes just to have and abortion. Why didn’t they just have the baby? The answer lies in our most basic human instinct: to survive as best we can. These women want to live their lives as they choose, not as it is chosen that they live it. Being forced to bear a child could mean having to support and give up dreams of a better life.
Also they might be pressured into a shotgun wedding to save their reputations. In the book Back Rooms, by Ellen Messer, a woman named Liz, explains her reasons for receiving an abortion. People have said to me, How can you be in favor of abortion? If you’d had one, you wouldn’t have these beautiful children.’ But I would have had them. It just would have been later when I was better prepared to care for them. And maybe they would have a nicer man for their father.
I would have been more prepared and all our lives would have been so much easier. Even though I love my children dearly, I regret that I did not have an abortion when I was given the option. I should never have let others influence my decision. (29) For other women, being forced to bear a child would mean placing it into the system. It is commonly thought that every orphan is just temporary.
That there is a family out there just waiting for it with open arms. The truth of the matter is that many families did not want children unless they were white and healthy. Most of the others were either shifted through the system until they were 18 or sent to live with foster families who were sometimes uncaring or even abusive (187). Women were aware of these realities and many refused to bring a child into the world and have it live in such a manner. Also was the fact that many women wanted to hide their present state from families or employers. They knew that they could be disowned or fired for their shameful state.
They were desperate to keep their secrets, so desperate in fact that they were willing to risk their lives. This was a risk they should not have had to take. In the book Abortion: A Positive Decision, Mrs. Lunneborg states that The desire not to have a child is by far the best reason for an abortion. There are enough unwanted children in the world already.
(18) And so these women risked, and often lost, their lives in th …