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Abortion must be a legal and attainable procedure for women throughout the United States. Abortion has been legal in the United States for over twenty-three years. Abortion challenges the civil rights of the mother and the fetus which she bears. To deny abortion is denying the mother certain civil rights. Abortion is a safe procedure for women, and because abortion is their choice they will not be stuck with a hindrance on their life. During the past twenty-five years abortion has become one of the most debated controversies in the Unite States’ history.
There are pro-life people and pro-choice people. People who are pro-choice believe that women hold the right to abort a pregnancy, but people who are pro-life believe that abortion is wrong and unjust to the fetus. There are many reasons why women decide to have abortions. Some women have abortions because of health complications, some have marital problems, and some lack responsibility. Whatever the reasons a woman decides to have an abortion, it seems only justified that she should be able to make decisions in regards to her life and body. When pondering issues surrounding abortion, many questions come to mind. Is a fetus a human being? Is abortion physically and mentally safe for women? And finally, should abortion be legal? It is only after exploring these questions can a person justify their position on abortion.
Abortion is defined by a decidedly objective source (the dictionary) as “a fatally premature expulsion of a fetus from the womb” (Webster 2). Abortions are performed in a variety of ways. It dates back to BC times. Ancient abortions usually consisted of mildly poisoning a pregnant mother. The poison was hoped to be just strong enough to kill the fetus, yet mild enough to keep the woman alive. Also, sometimes women would receive physical blows to their abdomen an effort to kill the fetus. Since both of these methods were very dangerous for women, infanticide was a much more popular form of abortion. Infanticide is grossly just the killing of the baby directly after birth (3 Gilbert). J. Gilbert, the author of an informative Texas state web-page, states that some time after 1750, a new procedure was introduced to abortion. The new procedure consisted of probing objects through the cervix and into the uterus of the women to accomplish the abortion (4 Gilbert). Laurence Tribe, author of Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes, states that the court case Roe v. Wade revolutionized the legality of abortion. The case set boundaries and regulations illustrating how much power the mother and state possess in deciding whether to abort a pregnancy (12 Tribe).
A major question that strikes at the heart of abortion legality is “When is an embryo considered a life or human being?” Many people argue that life begins at the point of conception. Bonnie Steinbock, an author who considers herself an expert on fetuses and their legal rights, says, “Conception is the joining of the male and female sex cells which have twenty-three chromosomes each.” The process of conception takes twelve hours, at which time the egg is completely fertilized and becomes known as a zygote. Distinct and unique characteristics of a person are determined at the time of conception. After the time of conception, until death, nothing will be added or removed from the genetic make-up of an individual (200 Steinbock). In other words, everything physically and chemically is determined shortly after the point of conception. Being alive means that an object grows, develops, and matures. A zygote, from the time of conception grows, develops parts of its body, and replaces its own dying cells. The heart of the zygote begins beating just eighteen days after conception (198 Steinbock). This is often well before the mother even realizes that she is pregnant. After three months, all of the fetus’s organs are formed and all of the bodily systems are working. The fetus can swim, grasp a pointer, move freely in the womb, and excrete urine. If a doctor injects a sweet solution into the fluid surrounding the fetus, the fetus will swallow it because it likes the taste. If a bitter solution is injected, the fetus will realize the taste and quit swallowing (196 Steinbock). The previous examples are evidence enough that life begins at conception, or at the time the fetus’s heart begins to beat.
Others believe that the life of the fetus is just merely the life of the woman until the fetus is born. Those people who believe that life does not start until birth believe that, without the life-style and habits of the mother, the fetus would not survive. In 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled over a case called Roe v. Wade. This case described the legality of a fetus and the conditions that apply to the mother’s rights as well. The ruling stated that the fetus is merely a living appendage of the mother until the completion of the second trimester. But once the third trimester begins, the fetus gains civil rights which guarantee life, liberty, and property. A woman can only abort a fetus in the third trimester if it poses a direct threat to the health and well being of the woman (189 Tribe). In conclusion, the Roe v. Wade case developed the needed boundaries to determine the legal rights of the mother and fetus. Should abortion be legal? According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1973.