Abortion has been a very sensitive topic in the United States and globally. The idea comes with negative connotations and receives backlash from politicians, religious leaders, and pro-life advocates. There has been a lot of debate surrounding the issue of abortion, with both sides having valid points. The pro-abortion argument is mainly centered on the idea that women have a right to autonomy over their bodies and should be able to make decisions about their pregnancies without interference from the government or any other external entity. On the other hand, the pro-life argument focuses on the idea that abortion is equivalent to murder and should not be allowed under any circumstances. Notably, the fact the rates of abortions have been going up in the U.S. makes it a public health issue.
For example, in 2021, 44% of the pregnancies in the country were unwanted (Augustine et al. 628). Unwanted in this case, meaning that even though the couples might have been planning to have children in the future, they had not prepared for a child during that time. So, 2.8 million out of the 6.2 million recorded pregnancies in 2021 were not planned for. Therefore, 45 out of 1000 women in the United States have unplanned pregnancies every year, equating to roughly 4.5 % of the women in the country (Augustine et al. 630). Concisely, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American household in 2021 had two children under 18 years, decreasing from 3 in 1966 to seven in 1800 (Augustine et al. 635).
According to the same data, on average, women in the United States want to have two children. That means they will spend at least three years of their lives pregnant, postpartum, or attempting to become pregnant. After that, it is a three-decade fight or more than three-quarters of their reproductive life trying not to get pregnant. Even though contraceptives exist, they sometimes fail to work, or people might recklessly use them, resulting in unplanned pregnancies. However, having a child is not like buying a shoe at a Nike store where you can return it does not meet your expectations. Therefore, having a child is a lifelong commitment that takes a lot of planning and preparation, both emotionally and financially; therefore, women need the autonomy to decide whether they want to keep the pregnancy or terminate it (Augustine et al. 640)
Maria de Bruyn (4) mentions that women who have experienced a termination of pregnancy express a myriad of emotions and psychological issues such as sadness, grief, anxiety, and even depression. One of the reasons identified as the causal factor is the lack of proper risk screening during abortions. This is mainly because of the fact that the idea of an abortion is highly stigmatized in society, so women want to go through the process as fast as possible without following the appropriate procedures. In other cases, abortion might be illegal in their state, so there are no available protocols for how abortion should be conducted. Cowan (265) points out conflicts or defects in the decision-making process as another issue facing women who want to abort because they constantly battle government policies, lack of proper abortion safety procedures, conflicting maternal desires, and moral beliefs, and inadequate pre-abortion counseling.
Raifman (780) highlights that every year 42 million pregnancies are terminated worldwide. Around 20 million of those abortions are unsafe. Out of the 20 million, 5 million women experience long time health effects. In the United States, at least 68,000 women die annually from unsafe abortion procedures. Therefore, unsafe abortion is a pressing public health concern. Maria de Bruyn (6) adds that the current methods that exist to prevent safe face social, religious, and political obstacles. With that said, destigmatizing abortions gives women access to educational materials and services about contraception and the availability of legal and safe abortion, and women and postabortion services.
Primitive Abortion Laws
Currently, abortion is legal in most states except Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas, with limited exceptions. Notably, certain restrictions have been placed on abortions by some of the states where abortion is legal. For example, a state might only allow abortion in cases of rape or incest or if the mother’s life is in danger. Some states also require parental consent for minors seeking abortions, while others have a 24-hour waiting period. The Roe v.Wade case set a foundation of abortion law in the United States, codifying, regulating, and limiting whether, when, and under which circumstances a woman should terminate their pregnancy (Raifman 783).
- Physician and Hospital Requirements– 32 states require a pregnancy termination to be performed by a licensed physician, 17 states require that the process involve two physicians, and 19 states require the procedure to only be performed in hospitals after a specific period of the pregnancy (Nih.gov np).
- Time of Termination – 43 of the 50 states prohibit pregnancy termination after a specific time unless in allowed circumstances that protect the mother’s life (Nih.gov np).
- Public Funding – 16 states allocate funds for all of the legally accepted abortion procedures, if not most. On the other hand, other states prohibit using public funds for pregnancy termination unless the mother’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape (Nih.gov np).
- Insurance – 12 states prohibit coverage of pregnancy termination procedures in private insurance plans. However, most other states often limit the coverage to when the mother’s life is in danger (Nih.gov np).
- Counseling – 17 states mandate that people should be provided with counseling services before and after the abortion process, which should include information such as:
- The link between cancer and pregnancy termination
- The ability of the fetus to feel pain after 12 weeks
- The associated psychological issues related to abortions
- Waiting Period – 24 states require a waiting period of 24 hours, between which the mother is counseled, and the procure is performed afterward (Nih.gov np).
Discussion on Primitive Abortion Laws
As seen above, even though most states allow abortion, they have a lot of restrictions on the topic. Currently, even though women have access to information and contraceptives, situations might still arise where they need to terminate their pregnancies. Unsafe abortions, due to tight regulations, come with socio-economic burdens such as death, high medical bills, incarceration, and societal stigmatization. States also incur heavy medical costs trying to save the lives of people who face danger due to unsafe abortions. As highlighted above, only 12 states out of 50 allocate public funds dedicated to safe abortion procedures. Notably, only 17 states provide mandated pre and post-counseling sessions during abortion procedures (Nih.gov np). This means that women in other states considering abortion are exposed to unwanted risk factors such as long-term mental problems (depression). It also leaves people with hefty financial burdens they have to incur in order to terminate their pregnancies. Supporting abortions would save most states a lot of money and allow women to live productive and fulfilling lives. Legal policies are vital for such a controversial idea to be readily accepted nationwide. Notably, anti-abortion and pro-choice lobbyists expend a lot of effort on influencing abortion policies and laws in the country. They usually work on adopting restrictive laws that make it difficult for women to get safe abortions in the country (Thomas et al. 363).
Common Misconceptions About Abortions
One of the most common misconceptions about abortions is that they are always unsafe. However, this is simply not true. While there are some risks associated with any medical procedure, the vast majority of abortions are safe and complication-free. Another common misconception is that abortions are only ever performed on young women. However, this is also not true – abortion procedures are often performed on women of all ages, including older women who may be facing health concerns or difficult life circumstances. Finally, another common misconception is that abortion is always a difficult decision for a woman to make. While it can be challenging for some of them, it is also straightforward for others based on their reason for the procedure. Ideally, such misconceptions about abortion can often lead to judgment and stigma, which can make it harder for women to access safe and legal abortions (Thomas et al. 364). It is important to remember that each woman’s situation is unique and that she should be able to make their decisions about whether or not to have an abortion without interference from others.
The Risks of Illegal Abortions
There are several risks associated with illegal or unsafe abortions. One of the most serious risks is that the procedure may be performed by someone who is not trained or experienced in performing abortions. This can often lead to complications, such as infection, excessive bleeding, or damage to the internal organs. Additionally, illegal abortions often take place in unsanitary conditions, which can also increase the risk of infection or other complications (Koch et al. 4). Finally, because illegal abortions are often performed clandestinely, women may be reluctant to seek medical help if something goes wrong, which can make it difficult to treat any complications that do arise.
Instances Where Abortion Might be Necessary
There are many reasons why a woman might want to terminate her pregnancy. Firstly, some women do not feel ready to be mothers or may already have children they are struggling to care for. Therefore, terminating the pregnancy allows them to focus and dedicate the available resources to their existing children (Koch et al. 2). Others may be in abusive relationships or simply cannot afford to have a child. If, for example, a woman lives with a partner who beats them, it would be unfair to bring a child into such a treacherous environment. Thirdly, some women may have health problems such as fibroids and high blood pressure that make it dangerous for them to carry a pregnancy to term. Lastly, some pregnancies are the result of rape or incest, and the woman may not want to go through with the pregnancy for psychological reasons. Sometimes people are sexually abused by strangers or family members, and bearing the resultant child might be a reminder of a traumatic experience (Koch et al. 4).
Factors Affecting Access to Safe Abortions
There are a number of factors that can affect a woman’s ability to access safe and legal abortions. One of the most important factors is whether or not abortion is legal in individual states where these women live. If abortion is illegal, women often have to travel long distances to get to a clinic where they can receive a safe and legal procedure. This can be expensive, time-consuming, and difficult, particularly for women who live in rural areas or who have limited financial resources. Another factor affecting access to safe abortions is the availability of trained medical professionals. In some states, only a handful of clinics offer abortion services, and these clinics may not always have the staff or resources necessary to provide safe and high-quality care. Finally, stigma and judgment can also make it difficult for women to access safe abortions (Vilda, Dovile, et al. 1702). If a woman feels like she will be judged or stigmatized for having an abortion, she may be less likely to seek out the procedure, even if it is legal and available.
Positive Impacts of Making Abortion Legal
Abortion, even though highly controversial, has a positive impact on women’s lives. Firstly, it allows them to control their bodies and make decisions about their own lives without fear of being stigmatized. Additionally, it enables them to finish their education or pursue their careers without worrying about raising an unplanned child. For the longest time throughout history, women across the world have had limited rights regarding what they can do and say. Only recently have women started getting equal treatment after years of advocacy. Therefore, just like their male counterparts, women also need time for personal growth, which unplanned or unwanted pregnancies can hinder. Importantly, this statement does not condone reckless sexual behaviors but rather an alternative in case mistakes happen. Abortion also allows women to escape abusive relationships and unhealthy situations. In some cases, it may even save a woman’s life if the pregnancy is putting her health at risk. Legalizing abortion would allow more women to get safe, legal abortions, ultimately improving their lives (Vilda, Dovile, et al. 1696).
Demerits of Supporting Abortions
While abortion may have some positive impacts, it would be naïve to neglect the other side of the story. It is important to consider the potential negative consequences as well.
One of the biggest concerns is that legalizing abortion could lead to more women seeking abortions as a form of contraception. According to (Vilda, Dovile, et al. 1698), half of the women who opt for termination of pregnancies have already had one or more abortions before. This, therefore, creates a scenario where people might view it as a form of family planning. Additionally, there is always the risk of complications when undergoing an abortion, which could lead to serious health problems or even death in some cases. It is also worth noting that abortions can have a significant emotional impact on the woman involved – in some cases, it can lead to feelings of guilt, sadness, and regret.
The need to control one’s own body is a human rights principle that contravenes dominant patriarchal attitudes and practices. In some cases, however, it may be difficult for women who are faced with an unwanted pregnancy because of cultural beliefs or financial constraints to obtain abortion services. This leads them into denied care situations where they can experience health problems such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, etcetera. Whatever the reason, it is ultimately up to the woman to decide whether or not she wants to have an abortion. The decision to have an abortion is personal and should be made by the woman without interference from the government or anyone else. Abortions should be legal in all 50 states without primitive restrictions so that women can make this decision without worrying about breaking the law. Additionally, making abortion illegal does not stop women from getting them; it just makes them more dangerous. Safe, legal abortion should be available to all women in the United States.
Augustine, Grace L., and Alessandro Piazza. “Category evolution under conditions of stigma: The segregation of abortion provision into specialist clinics in the United States.” Organization Science 33.2 (2022): 624-649.
Beckman, Linda J. “Abortion in the United States: The continuing controversy.” Feminism & Psychology 27.1 (2017): 101-113.
Cowan, Sarah K. “Enacted abortion stigma in the United States.” Social science & medicine 177 (2017): 259-268.
Koch, Valerie Gutmann. “Norms Reborn: Controversies and Challenges for the Future of Reproductive Technologies.” Houston Journal of Health Law & Policy 22.1 (2022): 1-6.
Maria de Bruyn. “The Acceptability and Accessibility of Safe Abortion. A Literature Review.” ResearchGate, unknown, Mar. 2015, www.researchgate.net/publication/274082829_The_acceptability_and_accessibility_of_safe_abortion_A_literature_review.
Raifman, Sarah, et al. “Exploring attitudes about the legality of self-managed abortion in the U.S.: Results from a nationally representative survey.” Sexuality Research and Social Policy 19.2 (2022): 574-587.
Thomas, Rachel G., Alison H. Norris, and Maria F. Gallo. “Anti-legal attitude toward abortion among abortion patients in the United States.” Contraception 96.5 (2017): 357-364.
Vilda, Dovile, et al. “State abortion policies and maternal death in the United States, 2015‒2018.” American Journal of Public Health 111.9 (2021): 1696-1704.
“What Are Some Common Complications of Pregnancy?” Https://Www.nichd.nih.gov/, 20 Apr. 2021, www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/complications