Abortion

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ro & Con Arguments: "Should Abortion Be Legal?"
PRO Legal Abortion

The US Supreme Court has declared abortion to be a "fundamental right" guaranteed by the US Constitution. The landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, decided on Jan. 22, 1973 in favor of abortion rights, remains the law of the land. The 7-2 decision stated that the Constitution gives "a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy," and that "This right of privacy... is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." [49]

Reproductive choice empowers women by giving them control over their own bodies. The choice over when and whether to have children is central to a woman's independence and ability to determine her future. [134] Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, "The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives." [8] Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissenting opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) that undue restrictions on abortion infringe upon "a woman's autonomy to determine her life's course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature." [59] CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, JD, stated that Roe v. Wade was "a landmark of what is, in the truest sense, women’s liberation." [113]

Personhood begins after a fetus becomes "viable" (able to survive outside the womb) or after birth, not at conception. [31] [32] Embryos and fetuses are not independent, self-determining beings, and abortion is the termination of a pregnancy, not a baby. A person's age is calculated from birth date, not conception, and fetuses are not counted in the US Census. The majority opinion in Roe v. Wade states that "the word 'person,' as used in the Fourteenth Amendment [of the US Constitution], does not include the unborn." [49]

Fetuses are incapable of feeling pain when most abortions are performed. According to a 2010 review by Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, "most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception." The cortex does not become functional until at least the 26th week of a fetus' development, long after most abortions are performed. This finding was endorsed in 2012 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, [1] which stated that that there is "no legitimate scientific information that supports the statement that a fetus experiences pain." [142] According to Stuart W. G. Derbyshire, PhD, Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham (England), "...fetuses cannot be held to experience pain. Not only has the biological development not yet occurred to support pain experience, but the environment after birth, so necessary to the development of pain experience, is also yet to occur." [10] The "flinching" and other reactions seen in fetuses when they detect pain stimuli are mere reflexes, not an indication that the fetus is perceiving or "feeling" anything. [135] [145]

Access to legal, professionally-performed abortions reduces maternal injury and death caused by unsafe, illegal abortions. According to Daniel R. Mishell, Jr., MD, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, before abortion was legalized women would frequently try to induce abortions by using coat hangers, knitting needles, or radiator flush, or by going to unsafe "back-alley" abortionists. [150] In 1972, there were 39 maternal deaths from illegal abortions. By 1976, after Roe v. Wade had legalized abortion nationwide, this number dropped to two. [7] The World Health Organization estimated in 2004 that unsafe abortions cause 68,000 maternal deaths worldwide each year, many of those in developing countries where safe and legal abortion services are difficult to access. [11]...
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