The Other Side: Abortion

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The Other Side: Abortion

graphic by Yasmin Haq

graphic by Yasmin Haq

graphic by Yasmin Haq

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Abortion is one of today’s most controversial topics – split opinions differ based on political party, religion, ethics, gender and more. Democrats file abortion under the untouchable label of women’s rights while Republicans see the baby as its own person who is deserving of constitutional rights, causing legislative and emotional tension. Discussing only the concept of abortion itself and not including exceptions like rape and harm to the mother, the Republican viewpoint is pretty consistent. 

The Republican Party believes above all that the baby has individual rights just like every other person in the country, guaranteed by the constitution and by the 14th Amendment. They believe it should not be some lawmaker’s decision to decide exactly when that baby gets to earn the rights of being a human. They don’t believe that the woman’s rights should be ruled higher than the baby’s, but believe they should have equal rights (which isn’t definitionally a contradiction to feminism, which is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes). 

The Roe v. Wade decision was made in 1973 under the 14th Amendment, ironically. It allowed abortions that aligned with its definition of viability – that a baby could survive on its own once in the third trimester of the pregnancy, which is about 24-28 weeks along. This means all abortions that take place before the third trimester are technically permitted by the federal government. However, this stipulation does not allow for the growth and advancement of medical care. Even in 1987, a baby boy named James Elgin Gill was born at 21 weeks and five days old and lived to grow into a healthy adult. Even without the created term of legal ‘viability,’ all conceived babies grow into people one day if there’s no complication with the pregnancy. Babies have their own DNA, blood type and heartbeat and are separate individuals from their mothers. This is why many Republicans stand by the protection of their lives from conception.

Republicans also emphasize the choice of adoption over abortion. The adoption system does have flaws – the average wait for an infant is typically two to seven years and the amount of paperwork alone deters many families from pursuing it. However, according to the Adoption Network, between one and two million couples are currently waiting for a child, every year there are about 1.3 million abortions and only 4% of women with unwanted pregnancies place their children through adoption. Many of these problems could be alleviated if adoption was used more widely as an alternative option regarding unwanted pregnancies. 

Despite flaws with the adoption system, there are still countless organizations that facilitate the process and even financially support a mother until birth. The Catholic Church runs many of these and provides services for pregnant women from full prenatal care to collecting maternity clothing donations. There’s a widespread mindset among the Republican Party that abortion is selfish: an act of literally putting your life above someone else’s and taking away the opportunity of life from them, especially because of the option of adoption and the fact that a large majority of American women are able to work up until their due date. 

Republicans hope to pass legislation that states unborn children are protected by the 14th Amendment, but with no punishment against women who have abortions. According to republicanviews.org, the party wishes to provide resources and support to women with unwanted pregnancies and that Republicans are not against women’s rights. The official 1984 platform claims abortion is a matter of the “fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” and this is reflected in the overarching belief that unborn children should have the same rights as women and men, equally protected by law. 

Republicans widely support recent state-created abortion laws because they are created by state rather than the federal government, but also because these state laws vary from the Human Life Protection Act in Alabama to the Reproductive Health Act in New York. This variance creates opportunities for women who really want abortions to get them in certain states, but allows areas that are adamantly against the practice to outlaw it. Balance is important. Republicans dislike the notion of the federal government interfering with states’ rights, especially regarding this issue, because it disrupts this balance and also forces the entire nation to bend to one law when there are major ideological differences spanning the country. 

Abortion is a hot topic in today’s political climate, and just like gun control, there are thousands and thousands of lives on the line. It’s an emotional issue and has caused excessive tension, political activism and violence. It is a subject that people are passionate about, but in this case, I believe it’s important to put emotion and politics aside. Decisions regarding abortion should be made scientifically and ethically because it is truly a matter of human rights. 

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