The Abortion Issue


Tony Webster

A protest against Focus on the Family’s “Stand for the Family” event at the Xcel Energy Center, planned by OutFront Minnesota.

Eva Deniszczuk, Staff Reporter

As America begins to shift away from being an entirely nonsecular nation, citizens and law-makers alike still struggle with removing its context from our modern day laws. Hotly debated by most everybody, it seems there’s very little middle ground to meet on, in the issue of abortion. And for all reasons at that, with common arguments over its morality, health risks, and it’s place in religious beliefs as well. And nobody can seem to come to a consensus on any of them. But why? 

Since the dawn of time, women have taken terminating unwanted pregnancies into their own hands. Even in ancient civilizations, women knew what roots and herbs would cause miscarriage, and later, when those weren’t readily available, women would turn to knitting needles, scissors, or most synonymous with abortion, clothing hangers, according to John M. Riddle, a professor of history at North Carolina State University. These were dangerous methods, which could potentially result in the death of the woman, via the ripping of uterine and womb walls, ultimately leading to a bleeding out. Until Roe v. Wade in 1973 legalized abortion, women would sometimes die from these at home abortion techniques, some of which are still utilized today. 

Missouri lawmakers are currently trying to shut down all performing abortion clinics in the state, leaving Missourian women without access to safe abortion.

One of the most common threads seen in the argument against abortion, is its standing with religious ideologies. And this isn’t surprising, as according to a Gallup poll, reportedly around 75% of all of American adults self-identify as Christians. And although the word ‘abortion’ is never explicitly said in any translations of the Bible, many still hold that it condemns such acts. When using religious texts to defend the pro-life movement, typical references include the 6th Amendment, “Thou shalt not kill.” as well as Jeremiah 1:5, which reads; “God knew him as fully human before his birth. Before I formed you in the womb I knew you before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

As well as the religious aspect, many involved in the pro-life movement question the morality of abortions. For example, in most cases a fetus will develop a heartbeat around the 8 week mark. And a heartbeat means that fetus is alive, doesn’t it? As well as having a heartbeat, we also can’t know if the fetus can feel pain. Are we causing hurt to this living being, and if so, is it morally correct for humans to take it into their own hands? Well actually, there’s an answer for at least one of those questions. According to the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), fetuses are unable to feel pain until around 27 weeks into the gestation period. “…based on gestational age, the fetus is not capable of feeling pain until the third trimester,” said biologist and journalist Sara Miller of LiveScience.

In response to a common claim of those who support the pro-life movement, a study was done, (in Denmark, mind you) which seems to suggest around 50% of all fertilized eggs, (in this context, viable potential pregnancies) are flushed out of a woman’s body before they can truly attach to the uterine walls, said William Rice professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This being because out of all animals in the animal kingdom, human pregnancies are among the most difficult, and in reality, the human womb is a naturally quite hostile place to developing zygotes. Which of course begs the question to those in support of the pro-choice movement, is a miscarriage murder?

Although not quite an analogical counter-point, it does bring the issue to a new dimension. Because the pro-life movement is heavily focused on life at conception, does that make women (who may have actually wanted a pregnancy) who had miscarriages through no fault of their own, murderers? 

To follow through on pro-choice ideology, a main argument over accessible abortions, is a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, also known as the right to control whatever is happening to your body, and to decide what’s best for it. Roe v. Wade in 1973, was the court case that ruled that a woman’s right to abortion was a constitutional right, protected by the 14th amendment, and its implicit right to privacy.

Many involved with pro-choice often cite the broken adoption system, and amount of already born children who are siphoned into the foster care system each year. According to Children’s Rights, an organization dedicated to protecting children from all walks of life, “On any given day, there are nearly 443,000 children in foster care in the United States.” The pro-choice movement specifically believes that more accessible abortions will cut the rate of children funneled into these situations, meaning we could use our resources more effectively on those children already within the system.

(Whitney Curtis/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Dr. David Eisenberg, medical director of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, during an interview on June 4, 2019, at the clinic in St. Louis.

A misconception that often circulates in the pro-life crowd, is the notion that women are getting abortions as a form of retroactive birth control. The truth of the matter is, there’s just no real data to back up this claim. But we, as onlookers, can piece together a few reasons why this notion simply doesn’t add up with raw facts. So, let’s break down abortion, step by step. 

First, to obtain an abortion, one must first go to a clinic, or hospital, where abortions are performed. If you live in a metropolitan area, this usually isn’t a struggle. In St. Louis, the only clinic providing abortion services is a Planned Parenthood in the Central West End. However, this clinic is the only clinic in Missouri currently performing abortions, making it extremely difficult to access for rural and western Missourian residents.

Next, depending on how far along you are into an unwanted pregnancy, your options begin to diverge. If you’re under 10 weeks pregnant, you are able to take a pill that will induce heavy cramping and bleeding, which will expel the fetus with no procedure required. This process, however, is extremely painful, as, similar to the cramps one may experience whilst menstruating, the body is trying to expel a large amount of tissue and blood from the body. This process can last from 4 hours to 2 days. Without insurance (or an insurance that covers abortion), one could expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $800.

From 10 weeks on, comes easily the most recognizable form of abortion, in vacuum aspiration. This procedure is more invasive than the pill, as it reflects more of an operation than the pill. Using gentle suction, a doctor is able to remove a fetus from a uterus safely, although the woman will still be in pain days later, with residual cramping from the affair. Without insurance, one could expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $1000 for this procedure says Stephanie Watson of Healthline.

This long, emotional and expensive process seems highly unlikely to be appealing as an alternative to birth control, which is easy to obtain and take. Abortions have always been happening. Only now do we have the technology we need to make them safe. By keeping abortion safe and legal, we protect the heath of women and children, all over America, and Missouri.