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I distinctly remember my first encounter with the topic of abortion. In all honesty, I found the entire act to be morally depraved. My naive and immature thought process mirrored the typical pro-life rhetoric, defining abortion as a murderous act that could only be ethically reasonable under extenuating circumstances. Then again, like most 14-year-olds, I lacked the ability to approach a debatable topic from all possible angles. Thankfully, my mother immediately explained the paramount issues with my lacking argument. From then on, and with the additional help of my own research, I have strongly strongly identified as pro-choice.
1. I am pro-choice because a pregnancy should never be mandatory
Actively denying a woman of her right to choose is a reprehensible and violent attempt to control her body. In 2008, approximately 41 percent of all pregnancies were reported as unintentional. In other words, some 85,362,000 pregnancies were unplanned. The choices of these 85 million women remain their own. There are boundless reasons as to why a woman may not be capable of carrying a fetus, should not carry a fetus, or simply does not want to carry a fetus. These reasons, however, should not matter.
Which life has more intrinsic value, and who has the right to decide? The fetus of a pregnancy that very well may kill a woman with preeclampsia, a fetus resulting from a rape, or the fetus of a woman who is unable to afford prenatal care? And what about the woman? Regardless of her reason to abort, denying a woman of that personal choice would effectively deny her of the most basic human liberties.
2. I am pro-choice because sex is a natural aspect of human life
Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy. Like all sexually reproductive organisms, humans are naturally inclined to reproduce. Also like many sexually reproductive species, humans frequently have sex for enjoyment. Humans are biologically and emotionally inclined to be sexual, and to punish humans for acting as such would negate our nature. This is not to say that everyone should just go out and have sex with each other; rather, sex should not be considered a sacrilegious act that warrants castigation.
3. I am pro-choice because contraception is frequently unavailable
Since 1980, women have faced a 61 percent decrease in funding for the Title X program, which supports low-cost family planning services. Socially-charged issues including the inaccurate persecution of Planned Parenthood, supreme court cases such as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and state-enacted refusal clauses have all contributed to the declining availability of contraception. Ironically, those who are attacking contraception providers are also attacking abortion providers. Without contraception, the need for abortion will logically increase at exponential rates.
4. I am pro-choice because bodily autonomy is a basic human right
Let me repeat it: A woman is an autonomous being, and bodily autonomy is a basic human right. A fetus, which is biologically dependent on the mother for sustenance, has yet to acquire bodily autonomy as it cannot self-govern due to this dependence. A fetus is not it's own being.
A frequent counterargument to the claim of bodily autonomy revolves around the concept of fetal harm. In other words, a pro-life argument may fall along the lines of “what if the woman does something harmful to the fetus, such as smoking or drinking, thus impacting it’s life after birth?” If a woman intends on bringing child into the world, then she has accepted the responsibility to protect that fetus. That being said, a woman who has no intention to carry a pregnancy to term is not under the same obligation.
An additional counter argument worth noting considers the issue of life support. If a fetus has yet to earn bodily autonomy due to the factor of dependence, does a person on life-sustaining support lack autonomy as well? What this argument fails to consider through such a comparison is the pivotal issue of sustenance. While the person on life support requires other people to provide care, this person does not depend on a physical connection to receive that sustenance. A fetus, in comparison, requires a physical attachment to the mother within the womb to survive until birth. A fetus is a body, but it is not a physically, biologically independent body.
5. I am pro-choice because I support the mental health and well-being of women
Pregnancy is not a purely physical experience; both emotional and mental health are significantly altered during gestation. Globally, around 10 percent of pregnant women and 13 percent of postpartum women experience some form of mental disorder, primarily manifesting as depression. Additionally, there are various prescription psychiatric medications that have harmful or unknown effects during pregnancy. Some of these medications include Xanax (alprazolam), Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Adderall, Diazepam, and many more.
6. I am pro-choice because it is time for men to stop dictating the actions of women
It is truly simple. If a person does not have the female reproductive organs required to become pregnant, then it is not their place to preach about the morality of pregnancy and choice. Men have no place to control the reproductive rights of women. If you are a man who disapproves of abortion, you can do your part by not impregnating women. In a country where the legislating body of our government is primarily composed of men, it is unjust to limit the reproductive rights of the underrepresented women.
7. I am pro-choice because pregnancy and childbirth is a massive financial undertaking
Unintended pregnancy rates among women below the federal poverty level are five times greater than those at the highest income level. The cost of pregnancy, partially depending on method of delivery, can range anywhere from $3,000 to $71,000.
In 2008, approximately 33 percent of women obtaining abortions lacked health insurance, while 31 percent were covered by Medicaid. For the uninsured, the average cost of pregnancy ranges from $30,000 to $50,000. This is a 50 percent increase between the years of 2004 and 2010. Forcing a financially insecure woman to carry out a pregnancy can wreak havoc on both the woman and the child.
8. I am pro-choice because there are too many orphaned children in the world
In the name of “saving babies,” anti-choice protestors are often inclined to make empty promises to “adopt your child” and “support you through your pregnancy.” Despite their pleas and vows, they are effectively neglecting the 102,000 adoption eligible, already-born U.S. children in the foster care system, and the 13 million parentless children throughout the world.
9. I am pro-choice because a woman’s sexual, health, and reproductive choices are none of my business
10. I am pro-choice because teenage pregnancy is still incredibly prevalent
Although teenage pregnancy has been gradually declining, it still exists in substantial numbers. In 2010, approximately 625,000 pregnancies occurred among those younger than 20 years in the US. In regards to mental, emotional, and physical/developmental health, children are not meant to have children of their own. Ideally, the adolescent stage of life should focus on a solid education, an exploration of interests, and an evolving comprehension of responsibility. When pregnancy is introduced into the equation, the immature individual is forced to take on a mature role in life.
11. I am pro-choice because the US still lacks quality sex-education
It is no secret that abstinence-only education is ineffective. Logically, adolescents who receive well-rounded sex education are 60 percent less likely to become pregnant/impregnate someone as opposed to those who receive no sex education. Despite this, only 13 states require that the information presented in sex education is factual, and nearly 25 percent of teenagers receive no information about birth control from parents or teachers in any form.
12. I am pro-choice because I support freedom of religion
A pressing issue with many pro-life advocates is the prevalence of a religious argument. In the United States, freedom of religion includes the protection of and protection from religion. This means that an individual’s religious beliefs have no authority over another individual’s actions. One person’s God, morals, and religious beliefs are not the universal standards that all people must live by.
13. I am pro-choice because illegal and unsafe abortions should never be the last resort
Approximately 20 million unsafe abortions occur annually and globally, resulting in some 68,000 maternal deaths and 5 million women with chronic health complications. Logically, the instances of unsafe abortions are much more frequent in abortion-restrictive countries (23 per 1000 women) as opposed to less restrictive countries (two per 1000 women). Abortions will always occur regardless of legal status, and thus it is truly a matter of protecting the health of women.
14. I am pro-choice because abortion is not equivalent to murder
No one is denying that a fetus is a living being. Anything composed of cells is, by definition, alive. A fetus is alive, just like the leaves hanging from a tree, the yeast we use to bake bread, and the cows we slaughter to consume as food. These are all living beings. The fact that a fetus may or may not have a beating heart, developing neurological structures, identifiable digits, or any other human quality does not equate abortion to murder. All embryonic organisms resemble a developed version of said organism. Additionally, a fetus does not have the mature, necessary neuroanatomical system required to feel pain until 26 weeks gestation. Not to mention, pain is a subjective experience and requires mindful development. That said, it is important to note that the vast majority (89 percent, to be exact) of abortions occur within the first 12 weeks of gestation.
15. I am pro-choice because I support the empowerment and advancement of women