Roe v. Wade and the Indispensable Right of Women’s Choice
I firmly believe that abortion is eternally within the rights of women across the world. If an individual is in agreement with legal abortion, the phrase “pro-choice” is given since it is, indeed, the choice of women. No individual or legislation should have the ability or authority to demand what a woman must do with her physical being. In this argument, I will be discussing the past and present implications of the legality of abortion and why it is so vital for women to have the option to choose. I will also correlate some of the readings performed in class to this argument to support my claim.
Roe v. Wade: Pro-choice Advocacy’s Heart
Pro-choice supporters of abortion believe that undergoing the procedure is a woman’s right. Those favoring the option of Pro-life, which is anti-abortion, quarrel that it is murder and believe that human life starts from conception. Fetuses and embryos are not viable, independent human beings. Abortion is not murder but only the termination of a pregnancy. The age of a person is affected by their date of birth, not their process of formation in gestation. The United States census does not factor in fetuses and does not include those not yet born.
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Daniel Mishell, the Department Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Keek School of Medicine, explains that prior to the legalization of abortion, women would attempt to induce abortions with hangers, needles, or “back-alley” abortionists. As a result, there were an estimated 39 maternal deaths in 1972. The World Health Organization has deemed that hazardous abortions performed create 68,000 worldwide maternal deaths every year. Many of these deaths are in countries where legal and safe abortion services are not easily reachable. This is a significant factor as to why women should have choice. Women should not die enduring a dangerous and non-sterile procedure that should be performed by a licensed professional, as it is a fundamental right.
Psychological Impact of Abortion Choices
Another particularly important factor is to consider the mental well-being of women going through pregnancies or even being forced under regulation to become mothers. A study performed by the American Psychological Association, which was peer-reviewed, compared the mental health of women who endured abortions and women who were denied abortions. This study found that the women who were denied abortions felt “more regret and anger” and less “relief and happiness” than women who received abortions. The same study discovered that 95% of women who withstood abortions were confident in their decision a week after the process.
Women’s ability to have an abortion can absolutely alter their financial, socioeconomic, and safety levels. A study performed at the University of California discovered that women who were denied abortion clinics were three times as likely to fall below the poverty level than women who received abortions. 76% of the women who were denied were on unemployment benefits, in comparison to the 44% of women who had an abortion. It was also discovered in the study that the same women who were denied abortions were more likely to remain in an abusive relationship and were twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence compared to women who were not denied abortions.
Reproductive Choices & Financial Futures
Another major economic factor is that women having reproductive choices protects them from financial and educational shortcomings. Surpluses of women who choose to undergo abortion don’t have the economic resources to care for a child. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health conducted a survey that asked women their reasons for receiving abortions. They discovered that 73% explained they couldn’t afford to have the baby, and 38% said that childbirth and motherhood would restrict their careers and education. American Sociology Review concluded that women at every income level earn significantly less when they are mothers, with low-income workers being the most influenced, with a 15% earnings consequence. Being forced to have a child without the capability to have an abortion can harm a woman’s career and education.
The Risks of Unwanted Pregnancies
If a mother is forced to experience childbirth without wanting to endure childbirth, the child is at a multitude of risk factors. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment explained that pregnancies that are not intentional are typically related to birth defects, low birth weight, post-partum depression, higher risk of child abuse, decreased education, minimal prenatal care, and an increased risk of physical violence during development. In fact, 45% of all pregnancies are unintentional. The safety of children is also at risk when it comes to abortion.
In 1972, in the legendary case of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court came to a decision of 7-2 that abortion is an essential and legal right of women. From the time this monumental case occurred, the Supreme Court of the United States has realized that the right of abortion is not only just inequality but also a right of independence. Arguments regarding equality in sex have noticed that the restriction on abortion denies women autonomy and their choice about motherhood; furthermore, it can degrade any dissimilarities in education, economic status, and politics that would be influenced by childbearing.
The country’s dedication to “protect the lives of unborn babies” doesn’t correlate with the agenda of the United States government. The laws enforce the burden of forcing childbirth onto women who are pregnant and then giving minimal or no support when the babies are born. If legislatures truly wanted to protect lives and provide care, they would go the extra mile to offer nourishment to women who had no choice in childbearing. Most of the time, these women are forced to give birth with little emotional support and have to endure the emotional, physical, mental, and financial costs of the entire duration of motherhood. Restriction upon abortion authenticates normative stereotypes of sex roles and could breach the United States Constitution.
In another famous court case that occurred in 1992, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the topic of abortion was once again highly prevalent. The case involved an argument that if a married woman opted for an abortion, she must provide a mandatory notification to the husband about the matter. The court explained that “the ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” This suggests the government cannot impose gender stereotypes upon women. The court decided that abortion limitations reject women’s equality and enforce infirmity on the basic rights of women to make their own choice to become a mother.
Dworkin & Nussbaum on Women’s Rights
One of the many readings we performed in class, Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin, I felt was applicable to the topic of freedom of choice for abortion. “Reproductive strategies are strengthening male dominance, invigorating it by providing new ways of policing women’s reproductive capacities, bringing them under male scrutiny and control; and the experimental development of these technologies has been sadistic, using human women as if they were sexual laboratory animals- rats, mice, rabbits, cats, with kinky uteri.”
The passage displays how men and other secondary powers have been policing and controlling the reproductive rights of women for quite some time now. If it is not controlled through intercourse, it is controlled through the law. Are women really supposed to be treated as reproductive lab rats? Are women really not supposed to have autonomy when it comes to their own biological comfort and decision to reproduce?
Dworkin speaks about freedom and to “end women’s inferior status because we need not be forced to reproduce, but this is an unlikely social development because there is a hatred of women, unexplained, undiagnosed, mostly unacknowledged.” By limiting the choice of abortion, this is exactly what the option is for women. It is limiting autonomy and truly forcing women to go through with unwanted pregnancies. If a woman is raped and becomes pregnant with the perpetrator’s child, is that woman supposed to give birth to that baby? She should not be forced to.
Roe v. Wade: Women’s Choice vs. Systemic Objectification
“Being female in this world is having been robbed of the potential for human choice by men who love to hate us. One does not make choices in freedom. Instead, one conforms in body type and behavior and values to become an object of male sexual desire, which requires an abandonment of a wide-ranging capacity for choice”. Denying the freedom to choose to have an abortion or not robs every woman of their free will and ability to make decisions.
By denying women their reproductive rights and right to abortion, it is absolutely a recipe for objectification. “Being an object living in the realm of male objectification is abject submission, an abdication of the freedom and integrity of the body, its privacy, its uniqueness, its worth in and of itself because it is the human body of a human being.”
Roe v. Wade: Objectification & Women’s Erased Autonomy
In Objectification by Martha Nussbaum, she describes what exactly entails objectification. One of the factors of objectification is the denial of autonomy. This means that those objectified are treated as if they lack autonomy and self-determination. This is what occurs for women who are unable to make their own decisions regarding abortion. The restriction of abortion also correlates with another factor of objectification, which is the denial of subjectivity. This means that the objectifier treats them as something whose “experience and feelings need not be taken into account.”
Not allowing women to choose for themselves to have an abortion denies their subjectivity tremendously. By restricting abortion, women’s feelings and any emotional disparity are silenced.
Nussbaum’s analysis of MacKinnon and Dworkin about sexuality can absolutely pertain to the idea that women are profoundly within their fundamental rights to have access to legal and safe abortions. “It shows us how a certain sort of instrumental use of persons, negating the autonomy that is proper to them as persons, for the refusal of imagination in the denial of subjectivity, for the denial of individuality in fungibility, and even for bodily and spiritual violation.” It is, indeed, a bodily violation for legislatures and any outside influence to deny women their right to pregnancy termination.
Dworkin explains, “The brilliance of objectification as a strategy of dominance is that it gets the woman to take the initiative in her own degradation (having less freedom is degrading). The woman herself takes one kind of responsibility absolutely and thus commits herself to her own continuing inferiority: she polices her own body, and she internalizes the demands of the dominant class.”
Roe v. Wade and the Fundamental Right to Abortion Worldwide
In conclusion, abortion should forever be within the rights of women across the globe. Having easily accessible, secure, and sterile abortion procedures should be available for every woman. Denying women this option, which is within their basic rights, does nothing but further oppress women. Denying abortion objectifies women without saying, telling women their emotional, financial, socioeconomic, physical, mental, and educational levels do not matter. It denies women their subjectivity. Legislatures who take part in the abortion restraints are only enabling normative sexual stereotypes. Women have come quite far politically and socially in the past few decades; however, we still have much more to work on.
Women having the freedom to do what they please with their bodies is one of the few parts of our freedom that make the oppression of women feel less alienated. Whether it is sex work, pornography, or any other physical freedom we have, abortion is always a woman’s choice and should never be policed by anyone but the woman’s choice. With all the information provided, it is clear that when women do not have these restraints of abortion placed upon them, it is multi-dimensionally empowering and necessary. The term pro-choice is named that because it is eternally a woman’s choice and no one else. Abortion is a fundamental right of women.
- Mishell, D. Implications of Unsafe Abortion Methods Prior to Legalization. Keck School of Medicine.
- World Health Organization. Maternal Deaths due to Hazardous Abortions: An Annual Review.
- American Psychological Association. Comparative Study on Mental Health Outcomes of Abortion Access vs. Denial. American Psychological Association.
- University of California. Economic and Social Outcomes of Abortion Denials. University of California Publications.
- Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Exploring Primary Reasons Women Opt for Abortions.
- American Sociology Review. Income Disparities and Motherhood: A Comprehensive Analysis. American Sociology Review Journal.
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Unintended Pregnancies: Associated Health and Development Risks.