Seth: Abortion: the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus. Generally we understand abortion to be the purposeful end of a pregnancy brought about by or on behalf of the potential mother. Abortion can be traced to antiquity, but its specific origins remain a mystery. Abortion has become, especially in American society a very controversial and divisive issue. Since Roe v. Wade, appointees and candidates for courts, especially in the Federal system, have been subjected to specific and harmful questioning regarding their views on abortion. It has completely taken over all nominations to the Supreme Court. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground on this issue, but I think I found it.
I am opposed to abortion. Completely. I have also never been in a situation where I have had to consider aborting a baby I created. I acknowledge that making this decision would be a lot easier said than done at this point in my life. I fully understand the difficult circumstances that lead some women to choose abortion, but I can not accept that as an option. My belief comes from a Catholic tradition (I went to Catholic school) of the Consistent Life Ethic which calls “the protection of life a seamless garment.” That extends past abortion to capital punishment, suicide/assisted suicide, and unjust war. This seamless garment also extends to passive destruction of life through economic situations (think poverty and famine).
The legality of abortion in the U.S. is where I find myself in an awkward position. As an “opponent” of abortion, I still find it hard to support legislation that would outlaw the practice completely. Although I would not be the one making or voting for the law, it is not easy for me to, for lack of a better term, “force” my beliefs on others in society. For those who do have this ability, I would say that they need to follow the will of the people, which is a tough issue as well.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 57% of Americans think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. 40% believe abortion should be illegal in either all or most cases, with the smallest number (15%) representing complete illegality. Find the breakdown of this poll and other polls on this topic here. On this issue, the minority seems to be the more vociferous and better financed than the majority. Without a doubt, I am strongly opposed to any Federal legislation in this area. Any legislation should come at the state level.
Ultimately, this is a serious issue where morals, philosophy, biology and religion converge. There aren’t easy answers, but it’s necessary that we not demonize people on either side of the debate which is what happens far too often.
Ray: I am against abortion. I do not believe that it’s ok to kill an unborn child. However, my beliefs stem from my Christian faith and I am fully aware that everyone in this country is not a Christian, nor do they live by the code of ethics I choose to govern myself. Therefore, I also disagree with any legislation that prevents people from making a choice to have an abortion.
For me, it’s not so much a matter of life and death or right or wrong. I am more concerned with protecting myself from government intervention in matters the affect my personal life. After all, the government is simply group of other human beings who are responsible for performing the obligations outlined in the Constitution. Governing abortion fundamentally disagrees with the principals of the US Constitution.
In this country, our biggest privilege is the freedom to make choices. We have the right to say whatever we want, choose our own religions, read and write whatever books we please, start businesses, and vote. If I choose to govern myself according to a particular guide of ethics, then that’s my choice. The government doesn’t tell me what to believe, who to believe, or how to practice my faith.
Thus, if Christians (or any other religion) want to outlaw abortion, let them do so amongst themselves. Let the people of those faiths govern themselves according to their ethics. But if someone in America does not prescribe to those ethics, then that’s their choice. And if that person wants to get an abortion, our Bill Of Rights provides that person the freedom to do so.
The court in the Roe v. Wade case determined that the plaintiffs’ 9th and 14th Amendment rights were infringed upon. In particular, the 9th Amendment states that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The 9th Amendment was basically written to address the rights of citizens that were not expressly mentioned (thus the term “enumerated”) in the Constitution.
Digging deeper, we find that the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788 was organized as an attempt to define what would eventually become the 9th Amendment. Alexander Hamilton and other Federalists proposed the following:
“That those clauses which declare that Congress shall not exercise certain powers to be not interpreted in any manner whatsoever to extend the powers of Congress. But that they may be construed either as making exceptions to the specified powers where this shall be the case, or otherwise as inserted for greater caution.”
To me, the 9th Amendment basically says that the government would not have the right to determine whether or not a woman can have an abortion. As Justice Arthur Goldberg stated when giving an opinion on the case of Griswold v. Connecticut (1965):
“The Framers did not intent that the first eight amendments be construed to exhaust the basic fundamental rights… I do not mean to imply that the … 9th Amendment constitutes an independent source of rights protected from infringement by either the States or the Federal Government.. While the 9th Amendment, and indeed the entire Bill of Rights, originally concerned restrictions upon federal power, the subsequently enacted 14th Amendment prohibits the States as well from abridging fundamental personal liberties. And, the 9th Amendement, in indicating that not all such liberties are specifically mentioned in the first eight amendments, is surely relevant in showing the existence of other fundamental personal rights, now protected from state, as well as federal infringement.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
In conclusion, abortion may be wrong to many people, and that’s their choice. However, this is a free country and I would argue that the right to choose should be protected. As much as I don’t want the government telling me who I can marry, what kind of shoes I can wear, where I can live, or how many kids I can have (shout out to China), I also wouldn’t want them telling me what kind of medical procedure I can have as well.
I’m pro life and pro choice. But that’s my decision which is made possible by the US Constitution.