One of the most contentious socio-political issues in the United States today, is that of abortion. There is really no reason why it should be a political issue, but proponents of abortion have averred that there needs to be a constitutional amendment that protects the right to abortion, despite the fact that the precedence for legal abortion was already set up through the Supreme Court's ruling on the case Roe vs. Wade. The issue of abortion has often been used as litmus-test when justices of higher courts in the land are being vetted at Congressional hearings. This essay will explore the issue of abortion in the United States for America, raising the arguments on both side of the issue, and coming out in support of life. Protecting the life of the unborn is paramount. The unborn need to be protected, simply because none else will protect them. A life is sacrosanct and there is no need to take a life of an individual for convenience. This essay will also be premised on the fact that life begins at conception. Once the fertilization of an egg takes place by a sperm, a human being begins to be formed -- there isn't, or shouldn't be, any ambivalence about it.
Though not directly related to the issue of abortion, mention of a recent event would be important to give people a little perspective. Michael Vick was arrested, and is currently in jail for animal abuse. He ran a dog-fighting business, where in addition to the abuse of these animals, they were euthanized when their utility ran out. The popular and athletic quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons has (justifiably) seen his burgeoning and promising career go away. What perspective one has to get in this issue is that several hundred thousand babies are aborted every year, which not so much as anybody raising their eyebrows.
One of the most salient Supreme Court Decisions in the history of jurisprudence in the United States was the landmark -- Roe vs. Wade. The Pro-Life and Pro-Choice lobbies are so powerful and passionate, that they have play major roles in the election of America's decision makers, including the President and the Justices of the Supreme Court. The momentous verdict that legalized abortion in the U.S.A. came on January 22, 1973. It was called the Roe vs. Wade decision. (Tourolaw.edu 2003) Jane Roe (real name -- Norma McCovey), a pregnant woman in Texas, challenged the constitutionality of the law that criminalized abortion unless the life of the mother was at risk. Another unnamed couple (who were not pregnant) also sued parallelly against future conditions like unpreparedness or contraceptive failure. The Ninth
Constitutional Amendments were called into question.
Justice Harry Blackmum delivered the opinion of the Court. Current Chief Justice William Rehnquist delivered the dissenting opinion. Concluded Blackmum, "We, therefore, agree with the District Court that Jane Roe had standing to undertake this litigation, that she presented a justifiable controversy, and that the termination of her 1970 pregnancy has not rendered her case moot." Justice Rehnquist's dissent basically stated that the Federal Government had to be judicious before it removed rights from the States.
The outcome from this landmark decision was that, in Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protects a woman's right to decide to have an abortion prior to "viability." Viability means up to the point where the fetus is capable of survival outside the womb. Thus, abortion became legal in all fifty states of the U.S.A. In the ensuing years, Roe has been at the center of the political struggle for control of the Court. A judge's opinion on the matter is sought as a litmus test before appointment to the bench. Recently, Norma McCovey was stated to have made an about face. She stated that she regretted that her name was associated with the deaths of babies and she has become pro-life. (White 2003) Recently, another contentious issue -- partial birth abortion -- was banned in the United States.
The issue of abortion will continue to become a point of discussion and argument in this country for years to come.
Consider the following: The U.S. Senate recently passed by a majority vote to ban partial birth abortions. Two Democratic Presidential frontrunners: Senators John Edwards (D- NC) and John Kerry (D- MA) abstained from voting with a view what the voters might consider when they ran for the presidential elections in 2004.
As a rule (with a few exceptions), Republicans and conservatives are pro-life; Democrats and liberals are pro-choice. Pro-lifers are naturally interested in saving the life of fetuses whom they consider living humans. Pro-choice supporters are interested in a woman's right to choose. The point of attrition is at what point life begins -- conception or birth. Discussions involving embryonic stem-cell research raise fears that embryos would be harvested for stem cell research.
This is the most common secular argument made by pro-life writers concerning the rights of unborn children. So does John Noonan, Jr. In his paper, "An Almost Absolute Value in History." (Noonan 1970) Noonan makes the argument that even in the most incipient stages -- the beginning of the metamorphosis of a fertilized embryo is living. The genetic make up contains the entire DNA that the person will carry until the end of his or her life. This DNA also carries the entire concept of humanization. This genetic information determines a person's characteristics. Even at this stage, the embryo is the biological carrier of the possibility of human wisdom, which makes a person a self-evolving being. Noonan avers that a person with such a viable genetic code is a Man.
Moral analysts have spent considerable effort weighing the humanity of a fetus and fetal rights against those of human rights. From a Christian standpoint, the eschatological (following in the footsteps of Christ) significance comes from loving one's neighbor as oneself. In this case, according to Noonan, the fetus is this "neighbor" with inherent life of its own. John Noonan feels that this should be obvious. Christ's all-abiding commandment rationalizes this self-evident truth.
The natural corollary therefore is: If one loves one neighbor, one does not harm one's neighbor. This could be put in humanistic and theological terms. Ergo, Noonan believes, once the humanity of the fetus is perceived, abortion is never right except in self-defense. When life must be taken to save life, reason alone cannot say that a mother must prefer a child's life to her own. Abortion violates the rational humanist tenet of the equality of human lives.
Joan Callahan in "The Fetus and Fundamental Rights" (Callahan 1993) summarizes that the issue is confused when people get mired in the question: "When does life actually begin?" Removing abortion from the as an almost recreational choice is a moral issue and not a biological one. Ms. Callahan declares that human fetuses are alive from the beginning. Of that there is no question. Noonan agrees that the fetus is the bearer of fundamental moral rights with the right not to be killed without very good reason. To summarize: it is a moral issue not a biological one.
There is not much to argue with John Noonan's premise that abortion is immoral. A fetus carries the genetic blueprint of a person. Indeed, even the embryo carries it. This blueprint encapsulates all the information required to carry a man or woman through out his or her life. All of wisdom and humanity are in that group of cells.
While this essay is about the notion of abortion being morally wrong, it would make sense to point about the economic ramifications of abortion. The Christian Action of Africa group has listed ten reasons against abortion. The aver that the average human who lives in the United States or West Europe, contributes more than a million and a half dollars into the economy -- given the consumerist societies of the richer nations of the world. This includes money spent on homes, cars, consumer goods, food, electronics etc. The average human also, over a lifetime, pays a little less than half a million dollars in taxes. Considering the number of abortions that are performed each year, even if the individual who is killed is an average human being, the total financial shortfall for a year is $41 trillion, per person. (ChristianAction 2009) This puts the current wrangling related to the economic woes of the world with (relatively speaking) the U.S. suffering from a four trillion dollar deficit into perspective.
The free availability of abortions also puts another issue into perspective: the severe under population of the planet. It is said that average number of children in households that are more likely to produce stable children, who are Christian, within democratic countries is decreasing, whereas countries that are Islamic or belonging to kingdoms or run by despots of kakistocracies is increasing significantly. (Steyn 2006) Given the socio-cultural issues that currently plague the world, one might make of that what one…