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Across America, the topic of abortion is still something that is regarded as taboo to speak about. Even in today’s society where it is more commonly brought up, the stigma surrounding the medical procedure has not gone away. There’s a rift between those who are pro-life and pro-choice, and each group has their own reasoning why or why not abortion should or should not be criminalized. The controversy about abortion is mainly rooted in the pro-life group believing that a fetus has the same rights as a born child and the mother. This stems into our government as well, where we have staunch republicans and democrats arguing back and forth over abortion. This also includes people who are incredibly religious and believe that it would go against God’s wishes, as humans are made in his image. Those who are pro-choice believe safe, legal abortions are a right and should be a readily available option to any woman who chooses to have one, no matter the circumstance. Abortion should definitely be an option and that it should be a woman’s right whether or not to get one, and that she should be the only one to make that decision, not the government. There are many reasons why abortions should be an option, and some of those reasons are that they would help end surprise and unwanted pregnancy, end pregnancy that was caused by rape or incest, and help women who are not in a place to be able to support a child financially or otherwise. Abortion should be a viable option for women without having to worry about government involvement, on the state or federal level, or the social stigma surrounding the procedure.
Abortion is able to help end surprise pregnancy safely without going to extreme, dangerous lengths. Based on a survey, the percent of women who got an abortion due to unintended pregnancy in 2008 was incredibly low, at under 5% (Finer, et al. 89). Those who argue While having sex, there’s no guarantee that protection will be effective, as condoms can break and birth control does not promise to work 100% at the time. While the average break rate of condoms while being used in a relationship is a mere 7.4% (Althaus 191), there is still that looming risk of it failing. On the other hand, birth control pills are roughly 91% effective, with just a 9% rate of failure (plannedparenthood.org). In the case of either of these contraceptives not working, the risk of pregnancy is high. When people use contraceptives, they are typically trying to avoid becoming pregnant at all costs, and when the methods of prevention fail and one becomes pregnant, it is going against their overall plan. Especially when thinking about teenagers or young adults, this can cause a problem with their future and goals. In 2014, 249,078 babies were born to women between the ages of 15 and 19 (CDC), and while the number is down compared to previous years, it’s important to acknowledge that teenage pregnancy is still an issue around America. While some would argue that an unplanned pregnancy is a miracle, it should be left up to the woman who is pregnant if she wants to keep the baby or not. In the case that she doesn’t, she should be able to turn to Planned Parenthood or another doctor to help assist her with an abortion without any worry about having to do it illegally. Those who argue that they don’t want their tax dollars going towards abortion don’t really have anything to worry about. While Planned Parenthood receives around $500 million in public funding, none of it can legally go towards funding abortions (Kliff). This is why Planned Parenthood and the idea of safe abortions are such a crucial element of the pro-choice movement. In the state of Florida, health plans cannot cover abortion costs, so if a woman wanted to get one, she would have to purchase a rider at an additional cost (Jerman, et al). While abortions are not covered by health plans, Viagra is and that contributes to the rampant sexism that plagues the United States.
In the most extreme cases, women who are raped or forced into an incestuous relationship should have an option to end the pregnancy. Even if a woman does not get raped and just experiences an unplanned pregnancy, she should have control over her body autonomy (Cohen). Pro-lifers tend to forgo giving the mother any sort of value in regards to her interests and reasons why she would give up her fetus. They give the fetus’ rights precedence over the mother’s (Cohen). If a woman gets raped and it results in an unwanted pregnancy, she should not be forced to carry the baby to full term. Some may argue that she should give birth and then just put the child up for adoption, but in a society where so many children are already part of the adoption system, that would not be the most effective idea. In addition, making a woman carry a baby that is her rapists’ is unethical and detrimental to the woman’s mental, and possibly physical, health. Incestuous relationships are not as common as rape, but should still be considered when discussing safe abortions. Chances are, a woman in an incestuous type of relationship would have been raped, which ties into how unethical it would be to have her give birth to the baby. Not only is there the risk of biological defects, but the woman would endure incredible amounts of stress. Forcing a woman to carry a baby after she was raped, either by a stranger or a family member, is torture. The woman would go through her pregnancy reliving the rape repeatedly, remembering the horrible event which would create extreme emotional trauma.
Some women just are not capable of supporting a child at the time they become pregnant, whether it’s accidental or purposeful. Different factors can contribute to why a woman cannot support a child, including the environment they are in. Over one in seven women are living in poverty in America (NWLC), and if a woman cannot properly support herself, she cannot provide for a child. If a girl is living in an abusive household, it would be unreasonable to bring a child into such an environment. If it’s an unsafe place for a woman, it would definitely be unsuitable for a child, let alone a baby. While the environment is a contributing factor to why a woman cannot support a child, money is a big reason why as well. A woman is financially unstable and can barely support herself, and she gets pregnant. If she can’t support herself, she will not be able to provide for a child. Despite there being an act that was passed to protect abused women, the Violence Against Women Act (Kandaswamy), it, unfortunately, doesn’t put a stop to domestic abuse across the country. It does, however, provide more shelters and services to protect women, which gives them another option aside from abortion if they aren’t comfortable with receiving one. While some would suggest putting the child up for adoption in this scenario as well, most women would not want to go through the process of carrying a child and paying for doctors’ appointments if they’re not going to keep the child in the end. The adoption and foster care system in America has over 400,000 children in it (Argys, et al), and while some children get adopted quickly or even reunited with biological parents, many children are stuck in a never-ending cycle of foster families. Adoption, while a good idea to some, could be detrimental to the child in the long-run. If money is already an issue, the cost of being pregnant would take a toll on the girl throughout the nine months.
Abortion needs to be a safe option for women, no matter the circumstance of their pregnancy. By the government getting involved in a woman’s decision to get an abortion, or other people protesting to try and get Roe vs. Wade overturned, it presents a question of whether women have the right to do what they want with their bodies. In 2010, anti-abortion activists shifted their rhetoric from the federal government to state governments to force restrictions regarding abortion (Hopkins Tanne), even though 22 out of 50 states had some form of restrictions on the procedure. Most abortions that are performed are done within the first trimester, though there are statistics that say that about 13% of abortions in the United States are done during the second trimester (Boland). Interestingly, Florida abortion laws as of 2017 are more restrictive than many other states (Jerman, et al). Women can only receive abortions 24 weeks after their last period, and even then, they may only choose to get an abortion is their life is in danger (Jerman, et al). A woman’s life should not have to be endangered before the option of abortion is presented to her. Those who believe that is unethical and murder should think about repercussions of forcing a woman to carry a baby they do not want. Pro-life organizations believe it is not morally right to abort a baby, but by making a woman carry out a pregnancy against her will is just cruel, and by definition, unethical. Providing options for safe abortions for women should be included in health care in all states, and unfortunately, that’s not how it is. Using healthcare to back up why abortion should be dealt with better in America is a popular argument, and seems to be the root of arguments on both sides of the topic.
While more people are coming around to be accepting of abortion, there are still groups of people vehemently against it for one reason or another. A popular reason for disagreeing with the procedure is based on religious beliefs and support of a traditional family (Johnson, et al. 40). Despite claiming to be religious and in support of all life, their ideas fall short when they oppose abortion, as they could be potentially putting another human life at risk by wanting to deny access to abortion. A good example of claiming to be saving lives, but in the face doing the opposite, rests in a case from Kansas where an anti-abortion activist shot an abortion doctor (Tanne 285). The shooter, Scott Roeder, defended his actions in court by claiming he was really saving lives (Tanne 285). The doctor he shot happened to provide late-term abortions (Tanne 285) for those who needed it, and he was one of the only doctors in the country to provide that service, which creates a new problem of taking away someone who could have saved lives. The idea that killing someone who was an abortion doctor saves lives in the end is nothing sort of ironic An interesting connection to this idea is that those who are at the highest level of moral thinking consider all lives to be special and worth saving, but those who neglect to realize that abortion can save someone’s life fall out from that theory of moral cognitive thinking. That being said, laws restricting abortion are not on a national, federal level but rather on a state by state basis (Tanne 1051), which leaves room for people to protest abortion easier than if it was strictly at a federal level.
For many anti-abortion activists, they prohibit abortion because they hold the belief that a baby starts at conception, and that a fetus can feel pain (Tanne 1051). In order to get their views out there, often anti-abortionists will resort to violence. The type of violent acts committed range from arson to bombings and butyric acid attacks (Jacobson, et al. 189). This violent rhetoric they hold has some irony to it considering they yell about how all lives are important, and then they turn and cause loss of life by committing these terrorist acts (Jacobson, et al. 190). In addition to the loss of some life, the attacks caused property damage, the need for more security around the abortion clinics that were attacked, and increased stress on those who worked at the clinics (Jacobson, et al. 190). While those who participate in the violent acts feel like they’re in the right because they’re fighting for a cause they care about, they are really just causing terror and wrecking havoc around cities.
Anti-abortion in the United States has been an ongoing issue for a long time now, and recently the Trump administration have begun working on cutting back support of the UN and the World Health Organization (Vogel 287). The first and possibly biggest problem that arose with this bill is that it brought back a Reagan-era policy that bans nongovernmental organizations that are funded by the United States from providing abortions, informational, referrals, or even advocating for more liberal abortion laws in whichever country the NGOs are in (Vogel 287). It’s been brought back into action throughout every Republican administration since it was initiated when Reagan was in office, and it’s known as a Global Gag Rule. America deciding to revoke funding means that nongovernmental organizations will lose between 8 and 9 billion dollars worth of their funds (Vogel 287). Despite abortion being left on a state to state basis here in the States, the country will now not help other countries that are in need of help of abortion access. The last time this rule was implemented, more than 20 developing countries lost all access to contraceptives, which in turn led to higher abortion rates (Vogel 287). In addition to losing contraceptives, this rule also causes health care services to be completely shut down and cut off in some areas, meaning all citizens lost their health care (Vogel 287). As of this moment it isn’t known how much the rule will affect other countries now, but over time the effects will be seen, whether in lack of access to contraceptives again or having women turn towards unsafe methods to receive an abortion.
As far as social paradigms go, the abortion conflict aligns most with the ideas of functionalism and symbolic interactionism (Keirns). Abortion and symbolic interactionism go hand in hand, as that social paradigm is viewed on a micro level, and abortion happens to only affect certain groups of people. One way abortion can be looked at through this lens is by looking at the anti-abortion groups, such as the religious ones and general pro-life crusaders, and examining their views. People’s views are shaped by interactions with other, not counting socialization that they may have experienced growing up. Those who are pro-life are passionate and adamant that the fetus developing is a human and deserves rights of its own, while those who are pro-choice argue that the woman who is carrying the fetus’ should have the decision to terminate her pregnancy if she so chooses. The conflict between these two groups of people could also align with the conflict theory, however, it doesn’t happen within all of society, which makes abortion better suited for micro theories as opposed to macro. The idea of people who are against abortion and believe that women should carry the baby whether or not she wants it is rooted in sexism, as it reduces a woman down to a baby-carrying stereotype while also neglecting her opinion on the situation.
From a structural functionalist point of view (Keirns), those who subscribe to that sociological paradigm could view abortion as something that is negative for family, as the family is viewed as the center of society. This theory is a macro-level theory, which differentiates it from the symbolic interactionist view of abortion, as functionalists would look how abortion works throughout the entire society. To some degree, a functionalist could be pro-choice, if only looking at the potential benefits it could have for society, although, as the family is central to this paradigm, this isn’t as likely as a pro-life functionalist. Functionalism and abortion don’t go as well together as symbolic interactionism do, but functionalists could examine abortion as a way of gauging if a family is no longer the center of society or not.
Speaking generally, other sociological ideas that surround the abortion debate include poverty, gender, and culture (Keirns). Poverty is involved when thinking about abortion as it affects so many people, and if someone cannot afford to raise a child, they may turn to abortion as an option or get help from Planned Parenthood. The entire abortion problem is rooted in gender (Keirns), as it is predominantly a woman’s problem, and gender plays a large role in why some are anti-abortion. As stated earlier, many people believe in the notion that a woman should carry a baby no matter the circumstances. In addition to that, women are often shamed for getting abortions and are called derogatory slurs in the process. Whenever that happens, sexism is brought to the forefront of people’s arguments, as calling women by slurs is once again rooted in sexism. When women do get abortions for whatever reason, they could be considered deviant in some eyes, as she is straying away from the norm some people hold about keeping the child. Finally, culture also plays a role in abortions, as culture influences everything around the world. In the United States, there is a divided culture over abortions, and there’s still a taboo surrounding talking about it sometimes. While it is more openly discussed in modern times, the taboo is still there, which is why some people are uncomfortable to talk about such a thing.
While it is still considered controversial to speak about in today’s society, abortion should be a topic that’s freely discussed and improved upon as time goes on. Providing safe abortions for women across the country ensures that they can end surprise pregnancies, not be forced to carry a baby as a result of rape or incest, and give women an option if they are not able to support a child. This debate has gone on for decades now, and there is a very harsh divide between those for and against the medical procedure. Both those who oppose abortion and those who are outspoken advocates of it have strong opinions that frequently clash together. With the current way the country’s politics are, it appears more and more people are being outspoken about their view of it, whether it’s pro-choice or pro-life. In the past few months, there have been marches for and against abortion, and it’s clear that the American people are passionate about this hot topic. From a sociological perspective, the interactions between the pro-life and pro-choice seem to be increasing as new generations emerge and form their own ideas on the topic of abortion. Culture continues to affect abortion, and as time goes on, the abortion fight will continue on with the development of society, whether for worse or for better. However, in the end, it should be a woman to decide on what to do with her body, and not the government, or other Americans.
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