On a crisp December morning, a young child is walking down the sidewalk in Germantown, Maryland with her mother. On their way to the shopping center the Germantown Reproductive Health Services clinic came into view. The child had never devoted much attention to this building before, as there was no reason to. Today, however, was different. There were hundreds of people crowded around outside the building. Some of them shouted slogans that were muffled by the voices of the others. Some of them were silent with stickers that said “life” over their mouths. Others even had megaphones and signs with disturbing images that the child did not understand.
“Mom, what are all those people doing over there?” The child asked with innocent curiosity.
The mother answered with one simple word. “Protesting.” She left it at that and avoided the other questions from her daughter.
You can probably deduce from the name of the clinic what the people were protesting. Around three hundred people at Germantown, Maryland were protesting the late term abortions performed by Doctor LeRoy Carhart. (Many were simply protesting abortion in general, late or early.) The protestors are part of a group of people who label themselves as pro-life. They believe that abortions should not occur regardless of the circumstances. On the other side of the spectrum there are the supporters of people having the choice to have an abortion. These people label themselves as “pro-choice.” These people are not seen protesting quite as often and are known to be the majority in the United States. Both sides have compelling arguments, yet they both have common ground that is otherwise overlooked.
Pro-life advocates believe that an embryo or fetus of a human counts as a complete homo sapien and that they should be given the same rights as one. Their common belief is that the embryo or fetus, given nutrition and stable environment, will someday become a fully self aware person and thus should be treated as one before this happens. They liken this to a child not being able to vote during his younger years then later when he becomes 18 he shall obtain the right to vote. Patrick Lee, author of the massive 19 page argument for pro-life “The Wrong of Abortion” continues to make points for this side of the debate. He goes on in his work to counter the argument that the woman has a right to her body and does not need to support the fetus with life support. Patrick states that if this were the case then the abortions would not use “an extraction that usually rips him or her to pieces” (Lee 10).
Mr. Lee also mentions that it is morally permissible in some situations to have an abortion. He likens these situations to killing an assailant who would otherwise kill you. Some of the examples he gave where uterus cancer, ectopic pregnancies, or other situations which would put the mother’s life at risk. These situations would likely kill the mother if the fetus is not aborted and therefore the fetus would be killed by proxy. This shows that Lee is not completely closed minded when debating for his side, as even he-a staunch pro-life advocate-would be willing to state that abortion can be justified in certain situations.
Lee also claims that the trials of pregnancy are not equitable to death. The child would undergo death simply so the mother or father could have an easier life. This is viewed as unfair for the unborn fetus. He also claims that babies can easily be put up for adoption and babies do not need to be raised by the parents. This is his response to the financial worries made by some pro-choice supporters. In conclusion, he believes-along with the majority of pro-life supporters-that the abortion causes more damage than having the pregnancy. They are also seen as immoral as the fetus is regarded as a person.
There is also a religious factor in many pro-life arguments, as many pro-life supports have deep religious ties. Christians are more likely to be pro-life while atheists are more likely to be pro-choice. The Vatican has already stated that it does not approve abortions. This is the reasoning behind the Catholic leaning toward being pro-life. It is bad to generalize however, as many religious people are pro-choice as well.
The other side of the debate focuses more on the mother. The pro-choice debaters believe that the fetus is “not an actual human being” (Arthur) and they make their arguments based off of that belief. Joyce Arthur explains in her article that the fetus is recognized as life. However, she does not give it nearly the same amount of value as Lee does. Just as ants and humans have different values, so do fetuses and fully formed humans. A stance that pro-choice supporters hold is that the fetus cannot sustain life on its own and is therefore not a human but more of a parasite inside the womb. Another argument Joyce makes is that if you consider a fetus human life, then where does it end? Will sperm be deemed as possible life? If so, that will cause very many complications in our society. Each month females automatically abort an egg, is that wrong?
Pro-choice debaters also focus on an other issue, the wellbeing of the parents and the child after birth. Many times abortions prevent families from undergoing situations they cannot handle financially or emotionally. This helps the already fully formed human (of which nobody doubts is a full person) in their life they are living. Abortions can also help reduce the rapidly growing population.
In order to find a solution to this problem, one must find some common ground. Both sides value human life. Pro-life advocates place more value on the life of the fetus while the pro-choice advocates focus on the life of the parents. (The mother in particular) Both sides have very good motives and neither of them want abortions to happen. There is a reason the pro-choice side is not called the pro-abortion side.
With this in mind, we can see the best way to end all of this controversy is to simply prevent unwanted children. Of course there are some exceptions such as rape pregnancies that will always be steeped in controversy but I will focus on the majority of cases rather than the exceptions that can be dealt with after the main problem is solved. So how are the majority of abortions solved? Safe sex. Contraception. By following that one simple word, abortions would not have to happen. (Again, for the majority) Both sides (except for the extremist religious side of the pro-choice advocates) agree that contraception is a very good thing. Not only does it prevent many STI’s from spreading, it prevents pregnancy. By preventing pregnancy, abortions will not occur.
The two sides have the right to disagree on abortion. This arguing however is causing them not to see the problem they should be focusing on. If both parties agreed upon their common ground and decided to fight unwanted pregnancies from occurring, the world would be a better place and less terrible situations would occur. Both sides agree the financial and emotional stress when you discover you or a loved one is pregnant is not a desirable thing. Therefore both sides should focus on how to remove the problem instead of arguing how to treat its symptoms.