The Never-Ending Debate on Abortion
Why the debate on abortion doesn't have a conclusive solution
Ever since Roe vs Wade landmark judgement was overturned by the SCOTUS on June 24, the entire world has been talking about abortions. Although most people think they get this issue right, they are wrong as a lot of misinformation and misconceptions are spread on the issue.
At the same time, people of both the extreme sides of this issue are head on the head thus giving rise to extreme positions and ignoring other factors thus making the "debate" on "abortion" never-ending or something which will never have a concrete solution.
I look into two big sets of people, and their arguments, look into their flaws and explain why this debate will continue.
This argument stands roots in Christian theology which adopts its arguments from Bible. Although in general with respect to abortion most religions are anti-abortion. Pro-lifers believe that each and every life is valued, which includes unborn babies and foetus.
Even though their arguments are rooted in religious beliefs, it is obvious that their arguments have become more secular in nature and have kept evolving. Pro-lifers argue that abortion is murder and that killing a foetus is both a sin and against the law.
Given that unborn babies cannot have their own voice, terminating their life without their consent should not be permitted. Also, given that religious supporters are so protective of their religion and culture have more people added to their fold is what is best and is a good reason for them to oppose abortion which is bringing down the fertility rate.
Pro-life has been successful in talking to the world about the dangers of abortion, the risks involved, the danger to the life of the mother and also highlights the health issues. They also highlight the regrets of abortion which many people might encounter in people's lives and that was not the best option they had.
One big flaw in the pro-life argument is "Does Foetus have rights?" If yes then what all, if no then why not. The baby is part of the mother before birth, even after the birth majority of decisions are taken then how can the life of mother and baby be separated.
Pro-Lifers, in general, have a hard time balancing the life of the mother and the baby and hence, even allowing the slightest concession on abortion has been controversial. Most people do recognise abortion to be permitted during incest, rape and cases when the mother's life is in danger.
Pro-lifers are conservatives who have for a very long time opposed the role of government in an individual's life. When it comes to the issue of abortion, they want the government to intervene and make legislation which restricts abortion.
The question of whether mothers or families should be prosecuted for their actions, then it's controversial, and then that burden is put on prosecuting doctors, health workers, abortion clinics etc. Abortion cannot be equated to murder under any circumstance.
Abortion is quite a safe procedure and hyping its dangers is not helpful. Chances of pregnancy despite the use of contraception and contraception failure are real. In that case, there is no choice left in hand. Most importantly the choice of mother has been conveniently ignored by pro-lifers who themselves have the decision whether to bring their child into this world or not.
Allowing society or the government to make that decision has not been acceptable to many. In a secular country, why should religion or church have any role in people's lives?
The most outrageous fact is that pro-lifers haven't made universal healthcare, maternity care, and child rights their main priority. Their support for life ends after the baby is born. Most of the conservatives in the US who are pro-lifers are pro-choice on everything else including guns. The argument for pro-life is highly selective and flawed.
There is no scope to understand the social standing of the mother, the family, the economic status and even what all things are required for the better life of a baby when he/she becomes a child and later an adult.
Most pro-lifers even had taken a stance against wearing masks and taking vaccines such as "My body, My right" but now in the case of abortion, they want the government's intervention.
These are counters and flawed sides of the pro-life side of the debate.
This philosophy believes in the right to an individual's choice of abortion primarily the choice of the woman and her body. The protection of bodily autonomy and choice is the central argument. This idea is favourable in feminist and liberal circles. Many countries today have legalised abortion taking into account the bodily autonomy and freedom of individuals.
Pro-Choice people believe that allowing government and society to decide about abortion, something that affects a woman's body and health and even something that is private between the woman and doctor is outrageous.
Understanding pro-choice arguments have helped people to have a more progressive and different take on the issue compared to pro-life arguments which have existed for a very long time. Shouldn't we get past pro-life arguments and look at more individual-centric compared to a society-centred argument is something which they have always tried to highlight.
How much pro-choice you can be, but there is no denial of the fact foetus has life and abortion kills the opportunity for the baby to be brought into this world. There is a contradiction now, the baby has no right in the womb, but suddenly it has rights after it is born.
The killing of an unborn baby is fine, but the killing of a born baby is murder. There lies the duplicity of the pro-choice argument. Why shouldn't a foetus not have the right? Deities have legal rights in India, why should foetus not have the same?
How ideal is the right of the individual sovereign in any country on this planet? We have seen the anti-mask movement and anti-vaccine movement where people falsely believe that what they think or their choice is the best? Why shouldn't the government make a decision if it is in the best social interest?
Why should only a woman's opinion be considered? Why not the husband also who is also the rightful guardian of the child, the family or even society especially if it can save lives? Parenting is very difficult but is taking away the life of a child a solution? How can pro-choice activists oppose the government's role here while accepting the government's role in everything else?
These are the counterarguments to the pro-choice debate and exposed the flawed side of the same.
Building a Solution
There is no proper middle ground because these two are extreme ends of the debate and will never converge. Currently, we can say a lot of people do have opinions which stand in the middle and aren't so extreme.
A lot of people in the US are both pro-life and pro-choice at the same time. President Joe Biden is against abortion but believes that abortion is a personal choice. So, we can see multiple combinations of opinions are possible.
Two things are clear- Most Americans support at least some restriction on abortion and are not fully pro-choice, yet the majority do support the landmark Roe vs Wade. So, when policies are made, understand what exactly people think before jumping the gun as pro-life or pro-choice. With criminalisation of abortion, it is not going to stop abortions, rather will increase the number of illegal abortions.
There is no solution to this debate as extreme ends will never meet. Once they meet then the debate is no more. If this debate needs a solution, then solutions need to find the answer to some fundamental political science questions.
What is government? What is the role of government? What is human life? Should the government interfere in private life? Where will we draw the line? Individual or society? Does a foetus have rights? Is a pregnant woman and foetus separate? The role of the husband in deciding a woman's pregnancy? What is murder? If not abortion, then what? How do prevent illegal abortions? What are the judiciary and the legal system? Should religion interfere in the legal system? Legality or morality should have precedence? Role of society and family in personal lives? Who will pay for abortions and why? Should companies pay for abortions?
Unless we answer it all and there can be consensus, this problem can be solved, but no one will agree on all the answers, which makes the issue more political, moral, philosophical, complex and unsolvable.
Opinions represented are personal.
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