Very rarely do I speak out on controversial issues outside my circle of friends and family. Although I have opinions on just about everything, I have considerable contempt for those who feel the need to shove their own viewpoints down the throats of others, regardless of the reasons behind their evangelism. However, after reading several articles on abortion over the last several weeks, I feel the uncontrollable urge to share my own thoughts.
Before I begin, I would like to share a little bit about my background, which might shed some light on my opinions about abortion. I was adopted when I was ten days old by two loving parents who could not have a child of their own. Likewise, my sister was adopted at just fourteen days old, and although I have never met my biological parents, I am grateful every day that they chose adoption rather than abortion. I understand that they couldn’t have taken care of me, but rather than sparing themselves the ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth, they took responsibility for their actions and carried me to term.
As a result, I have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who love me and who support me every day of my life. There is absolutely no comparison to the knowledge that, instead of growing up to be a daughter and a writer, I might never have existed at all beyond the womb of my biological mother.
That said, I have fairly strong opinions about abortion, though they have been cultivated not only from emotional weight, but also from sound research and knowledge.
Abortion has been a hot topic in the public and political arenas for quite some time. Debates over whether or not abortions should be legal are predated only by moral and ethical controversy. Should a woman have the right to choose? Do the fathers have any say regarding the rights of their children? And at what point does a lump of tissue in a woman’s body become a living, viable human being?
As with most political and social controversies, the subject of abortion has become muddled and distorted, bringing a multitude of factors into the decisioning power of a pregnant woman. Yes, it is her body. Yes, it is her child. No, she might not have meant to get pregnant. Sure, she might be concerned about her own health. Perhaps she was raped, or has broken up with the father, or has too many other mouths to feed. Maybe she’s on welfare, living off the government’s dime, residing in a one-room apartment with no air-conditioning or hot water.
There are millions of so-called extenuating circumstances which might influence abortion in the public eye. We feel sorry for the mother who has gotten herself into this situation, who doesn’t know what to do, and who is looking for a way out. We feel equally sorry for the poor, helpless fetus who may never be able to reach his or her full potential from the ninth-ward projects in a destitute city, where the mother resides.
How many children have been aborted? The answer: millions. Millions of potential doctors, lawyers, teachers and postal workers were given the unbelievably precious gift of life, only to have it yanked out from under them in the most vicious of ways.
And yet, we feel sorry for that mother who chose to have sex, but couldn’t accept the repercussions.
The pro-choicers who carry picket signs and advocate the rights of mothers to choose will give you a host of reasons why we – the public – do not have the right to condemn a mother for choosing abortion. They will tell you that a woman’s body is her own, and that she has full power to make decisions regarding her physical circumstance. They will tell you that a mother who cannot care for her child is acting responsibly by terminating her pregnancy. She recognizes that she doesn’t have the money, the expertise, the knowledge or the wherewithal to raise a child, and therefore we should commend her for her strength of mind to have an abortion.
Here’s a thought: perhaps she should have kept her pants on.
I realize that most people will berate me for my choice of words, but how else will we drive home the facts to society? We live in an age where people are not expected to take responsibility for their actions. Celebrities are headed to rehab by the hundreds, complaining about the unbearable stress of fame. Women who murder their children one by one are committed to mental institutions and given the sympathy of the courts. Children who carry guns to school and sell drugs on the streets are victims of a cruel and uncaring world.
Wake up, people! These examples all boil down to the same concepts that should – and yet don’t – govern the practice of abortion. If we know that there are ways to slink out of trouble and avoid responsibility, what do you honestly think will be the end result?
The other day, I was reading an article by a woman named Julie Foss-Medeiros called Living the Choice: The Humanity and Specifics of Abortion (by a Mom who “chose”). She goes on for several pages about the specifics of first-, second-, and third-trimester abortions, the methods with which they are completed, and the arguments for them. She advocated first- and third-trimester abortion, saying that the former was the abortion of simple tissue (not a life) and that the latter was the decision of a mother in distress.
She goes on to say that she has had five – yes, five! – abortions in her lifetime, and that she doesn’t regret her decisions to abort, that there were extenuating circumstances to influence her decision. The article made me nauseous, and not just because of the explicit description of partial-birth abortions she delivers.
At the very end of the article, in a small paragraph before her conclusion, she mentions adoptions in the briefest of explanations and says that, “…although many argue that there are many couples who would love to adopt an unwanted child, this is an ideal, not a reality…” She explains that there aren’t many couples out there who would love to adopt a child, and that most children wind up in the system for eighteen years, only to be thrust out onto the streets once they “age out”.
According to adoption statistics provided by the U.S. Censor Bureau, 1.6 million children under the age of 18 were adopted in the year 2005 alone. According to that same set of statistics, there are 532,000 children in foster care. The average income for adoptive families in 2005 was $56,000, compared to $48,000 for parents who conceived children biologically. Nearly 80% of adopted children live with parents who own their own homes (versus renting), and 33% of adopted children live with parents who have at least a Bachelor’s degree (compared with 16% of families who conceived their own children).
Now, according to The Alan Guttmacher Institute, approximately 1.8 million abortions occur annually in the United States. More than 40% of those 1.8 million women have had at least two previous abortions. Just over 25% of abortions occur because the mother wants to postpone childbearing, and only 4.1% of abortions happen because of a danger to fetus or mother.
As you can see, the results are staggering, and if approached from a logical point of view, we can determine that there are more abortions than adoptions, and that most women abort their children for selfish reasons. We hear all the time about mothers at risk of death, and that they had to abort because they feared for their lives; the statistics will tell you, however, that we could eliminate 95% of abortions if those were the sole criteria for legality.
What this means is that we have a dangerous epidemic on our hands. It has nothing to do with disease or famine, but of women who feel that they have the right to kill their own children. It has to do with a society that will not hold a woman responsible for her own actions, and will even encourage her to take the easy way out; a society that advocates the termination of life.
We aren’t allowed to commit suicide. We’re required to wear seatbelts. There are height limits on rides at amusement parks and murder is a felony. Assisted suicide, prostitution, recreational drug use, driving while intoxicated, speeding, carrying concealed without a permit, bringing a cigarette lighter on a plane and assault with a deadly weapon – these are all outlawed based on an individual’s right to safety.
And yet…women have the right to participate in consensual sex and then abort the product of that sacred union.
Furthermore, the father of that child participated in the sexual act, and yet has no rights when it comes to the child until he or she takes a breath in this world. If, on the other hand, the mother decides to give birth and to forgo adoption, that father is liable for child support payments and will be required to support both mother and child regardless of visitation rights.
I am not a man, and therefore not a father, but even I can see where we have made a mess. Not only are women given the right to terminate a pregnancy, but they also have the right to capitalize on the situation. If a mother aborts her child mid-pregnancy, she is commended for her responsible and heartfelt actions, but if a man is unable to make a child support payment, he is considered a “deadbeat dad”. While I would never speak out against the collection of child support, I do see a precedent for manipulation and double standards.
Regardless, this article is not about child support collection or about the equality of men and women. It is my contention, after hours of research and contemplation, that abortion in this country has reached the status of an epidemic, and that if we care about our society and about the children in this world, we will do something about it before it’s too late. Here is what I propose:
1. We hold mothers responsible for their actions.
If you’re old enough, wealthy enough, and emotionally stable enough to have sex, you should be perfectly capable of dealing with the consequences. There is no way for a woman to “abort” AIDS or gonorrhea, so why should she be allowed to take the life of a child? Why shouldn’t she be required to carry the child to term, and then to either provide for it or give it up for adoption? Not only that, but why doesn’t she have the moral compunction to accept that she gave in to sexual temptation, and deal with her consequences for the sake of the life inside her?
2. We streamline the child welfare system.
There are too many couples in the world waiting for children, and too many children caught up in the system. Why hasn’t this been addressed? Because of the beauracracies and the politics, there are emotionally starved children who need a family with whom they can share their lives. With the technology that has been developed thus far, there must be a way to streamline the process of pairing children with parents who can love and care for them.
3. We require counseling for mothers who have unplanned pregnancies.
There’s a reason why women have multiple abortions; they haven’t been educated about their decisions, and they haven’t learned from prior mistakes. We can at least diminish the amount of abortions by requiring some type of consequence for aborting a child. Before a woman is allowed to have an abortion, she should – at the very least¬ – be required to go through a counseling process to make sure she fully understands her decision.
4. We practice better parenting.
How many teenage mothers are walking around with either a child or an abortion under their belts? We live in a society where we educate teens about sex, but we take on the “if they want to do it, they’ll do it” philosophy. Twenty years ago, that type of behavior was unacceptable, and children lived in mortal fear of their parents because they were taught right from wrong and to take responsibility for their actions. The cycle has to start somewhere, people.
5. We stop calling abortion a “termination of pregnancy”.
Why do we insist upon using a clinical term that is nothing short of unscrupulous murder? The idea behind “terminating a pregnancy” is a way for mothers to put the emphasis on “pregnancy”. “I’m not terminating a child, but a personal condition, so it’s my choice. Right?” This is psychological avoidance at its worst.
6. We educate the public about “partial-birth abortions”.
There is nothing morally or ethically sound about a partial-birth abortion. Partial-birth abortions are required for third-trimester children, and require the extraction of brain matter through the skull while the child is already in the birth canal. What makes anyone believe that this is an acceptable practice, and how can any mother lay back on an operating table while a physician – whose scruples to which I cannot attest – kills her child as it passes through her?
None of these things will ever come to fruition unless the public takes a stand on moral and ethical grounds. This isn’t just a politically debatable issue; it’s an epidemic that needs to be squelched as soon as possible.
And if, after reading this article, you still believe in pro-choice ethics, imagine how different the world would be had your mother deprived it of your existence. Your children would never have been born; your work would never have benefited society; and your mark would never have been left for others to enjoy.
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