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Sociological Acceptance of Abortion

Jan 23, 2000 4136 Words
In three weeks, Jennifer will leave for college. She broke up with her boyfriend two weeks ago, and today she found out she was pregnant. Should Jennifer have an abortion, or stop all her plans and have a baby at eighteen? Either way the decision is hers to make. On January 22, 1973 the landmark decision of Roe vs. Wade occurring in the Supreme Court made abortion a "constitutional liberty" (Francome 20). Legally, Jennifer can receive an abortion. Socially, however, she will endure many more obstacles.

Fighting for society's acceptance
In today's American society, viewpoints on certain topics often conflict with what individuals believe is right. This is very evident in the argument for acceptance of abortions among college students. However, with the rise of the anti-abortion movement this procedure has become less accepted and harder to obtain. Should abortions among college students be more widely accepted in society? According to a Planned Parenthood study done in 1997, forty percent of seventeen year olds will become pregnant before their twenty-fifth birthday. This statistic is directly targeted at college age females. The answer is far from being strictly a black and white issue, but my own viewpoint is "yes" abortions should be accepted among society for many reasons. The controversial issue of abortion has many intertwining, surrounding complications. Such an issue is never concrete, "in

America, about 20% of Americans thoroughly oppose abortions, 20% thoroughly favor abortions, while a vast majority are 'muddled in the middle'" (Pojman and Beckwith 59). As with any pregnancy there are impending risks involved and many extenuating circumstances that justify an abortion. In a perfect world, abortions are not the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but there are many "bumps in the road," keeping the United States from being perfect.

Defining Life?
The main question facing society is the definition of a fetus' point of living. Pro-Lifers believe that, "a fertilized embryo is the foundation for a living human being" (National College Students for Life). In contrast, pro-choicers argue that a human being is something more concrete with it's own thought processes and consciousness. Petchesky argues, "the fetus is only a potential human being, and we confuse actual with potential" (432). So who is right and who is wrong? Who makes the definition of a living human being? These however, are questions that will most likely never be resolved. Therefore, both sides need to accept and respect each other views on the issue for society as a whole to be more accepting of abortion.

Emotional Instability
The emotions that result from being in a college atmosphere and the emotions that occur with pregnancy do not coincide. Most college students are not emotionally stable enough to carry or give birth to a child. As stated by Rosalind Petchesky, "women between the ages of eighteen and twenty are at the highest level of emotional insecurity

and have proven to be unfit mothers" (322). Entering college is a new experience for teenagers which involves a new sense of freedom and responsibility. College students are battling with being on their own for the first time, managing their time and studying. College students have too much emotional strain and stress on them to add the additional stress of having a child. A survey was conducted among college males and females on their various viewpoints of abortion. Of those surveyed, 82% of both males and females claimed they did not feel that they would make a capable parent while still remaining in college. Having a child brings a whole new sense of responsibility that I do not believe college students are able to handle. The added stress of morning sickness, mood swings, weight gain and other anxieties attributed to pregnancy would place to much of a emotional strain on an already tense college student. Pro-Lifers argue, "if one is responsible enough to have sex, one should be responsible enough to deal with the consequences" (National College Students for Life). I am in agreement with the responsibility necessary to be a part of a sexual relationship but the reality of unwanted pregnancies is far too large to overlook. Studies show that "each year, one million teenagers become pregnant and 85% of these pregnancies are unwanted" (Detroit News). Of course there is always the counter argument of putting the child up for adoption, but that leads to more emotional entanglements. Having to go through a nine month period carrying a child growing inside you may cause you to become attached to that child, which may not receive the life it deserves at that time.

Consequences of unwanted pregnancies
When examining the records of any mental or penal institution and prison, one realizes that in too many cases the person was raised in a household where the parents did not want the child (Landes 121). A child requires love and compassion to grow and live a happy life. The children that do not receive adequate attention often go to jail or become insane because they have never learned to love. Also because abortions are not always easily accessible or accepted, mothers find another way to get rid of the child. This means that the children live in foster homes where they do not lead stable lives (Landes 122). Extenuating circumstances

More than 87,000 rapes were reported in 1996, and 40% of those rapes were considered date or acquaintance rape among women between the ages of sixteen and twenty, typical college age students (Willke 193). Rape is a violent act that may leave a woman pregnant. Christina, a 20 year-old rape victim, remarks on her decision of abortion rather than adoption, "losing a seven week fetus which weighed less than aspirin tablet does not compare to losing a seven pound baby with hair and fingernails that would look like me" (Bender and Leone 132). Regardless how much a mother loves her child, it is unbearably difficult to look into its face without thinking about the mortifying activity on how the child was conceived. Rape is a harsh crime and having a baby reminding the woman is too much to ask, unless she is totally willing.

Abortions should also be more accepted and accessible to women whose lives are in danger or whose children will be born with a terminal illness. Pregnancy does not go with out health risks. However, "teenage mothers are more likely to give birth to unhealthy children due to their immaturity" (Maloy 124). It is not fair to the child nor the parents to bring the child into the world under those circumstances. The parent's life would be completely altered due to the demanding needs of terminal ill children and this would not correspond with a demanding college schedule.

Breakdown of sociological expectations
Society's expectations of today's generation also conflict with the acceptance of abortion among college students. All of our lives it is instilled in us to further our education by attending a college or university. Those females who have achieved this goal should be highly praised. However, this praise and recognition is then shattered upon them becoming pregnant. The treatment received and the emotional struggles endured will make it hard for a continuation of their college education, not to mention the emotional strength it takes to carry and then support a child. According to the same Planned Parenthood study, mentioned previously, the majority of female college students that have children in college, are not able to finish their college careers. Another issue that society deems important is family values, and once again, society's lack of acceptance of abortion conflicts with this issue. We have been taught, and studies show, that a nuclear family is healthiest. The probability of a pregnant college student being a part of a nuclear family, with two married parents, is low. As supported in

the survey conducted, 30% of males said they would not support a child that was a result of a one night stand. This leaves the child without a two parent family, which is against society's norm that we are expected to follow.

Financial burden
Seventy-three percent of college students are receiving some form of financial aid, grant, scholarship or student loan (College Board 1996). College students are usually already on a fixed and strict budget and children are a huge expense on top of that. It is estimated that 8,000-10,000 dollars are spent on a newborn within it's first year of life (Hume 213). With or without support, many college students could not afford the expense of a child in addition to college expenses, and therefore would be forced financially to drop out of school. Secondly, a large portion of the financial burden of children is held by medical expenses. There is a great insufficiency in the number of inexpensive and accessible medical utilities for young adults without any form of insurance. To follow through with a healthy pregnancy, adequate pre-natal care must be given. Because the majority of pre-natal development occurs within the first trimester (Willke 46), favorable development requires frequent check ups, along with vitamins and drugs that help prevent birth defects. Facilities that dispense such services are usually expensive and require medical insurance. After a child is born, immunizations and follow up care is required. These procedures also require some form of payment. The majority of college students do not have jobs that provide adequate medical coverage, if they even have jobs. So obviously, for many

reasons having and supporting a child is too much of a financial burden on a college student and abortion seems the logical answer.
Is there a solution?
Now that all the problems of having a child in college have been discussed, it's time to ask the question-Can anything be done to make abortions among college students more socially accepted? I believe something can be done and many different possibilities need to be proposed.

More education
As with any other issue, education is the basis of judgment. According to psychologist, Dr. Martin J. Sternberg, "the way children are educated at a young age directly affects their behavior as adults" (Pojman and Beckwith 418). Therefore, children need to be educated possibly as young as elementary school on the topic of abortion. At this age children are just starting to learn of society's expectation of them to go to college in the future. They then will be able to directly correlate the need of responsibility to raise a child with the struggles of a college student, and learn they don't mix. Of course education cannot stop at this age, and must continue throughout high school. Educating young children implants the notion in their minds, but high school students are on a more mature level to comprehend information, especially dealing with sexual relationships. High school students are also at the perfect age to realize the emotional and physical hardships that would be endured if one was to have a child in college. Of the college students surveyed, 63% did not know exactly how an abortion was performed. Teaching

children about abortion at a young age, and constant reinforcement throughout their schooling will allow them to be more knowledgeable and accepting if they are a part of, or know someone who is a part of such a situation, once they reach college age.

In addition to education about abortion, education about alternative methods of birth control is necessary. A study done in 1995 showed that 82% of women that received abortions, that year, were not using any method of birth control at point of conception. It could be inferred from this statistic that these women did not have knowledge about birth control or access to it. Again, starting at an early age in education, children should be taught the logistics of different methods of birth control. In many states, including North Carolina, the only method of birth control allowed to be taught, by law, is abstinence. The presence of pre-marital sex among teenagers in today's generation cannot be ignored. Instead of trying to discount the number of teenagers that participate in pre-marital sex, society should go with a more realistic approach and educate them about birth control and therefore, there will be fewer necessary abortions.

Educating today's youth about abortion and birth control will conjure ideas in them at a young age. With education comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes acceptance.
Greater accessibility
Much of the problem with accepting abortion is the lack of facilities that perform abortions. Only thirteen percent of abortions are performed within hospitals (Landes 64). The rest are performed outside of hospitals in clinics. The Alan Guttmacher Institute

surveyed and found only 2,680 abortion clinics in the United States. Eighty-eight percent of the clinics are only in metropolitan areas where ninety-eight percent of abortions are performed (Landes 64). Rural counties that contain colleges or universities do not have such accessibility to facilities that perform abortions. The AGI discovered that eighty-three percent of rural counties did not have clinics. Limited facilities that perform clinics poses a dilemma for college students that may not have transportation or time, to travel to metropolitan areas. However, if colleges installed on-campus abortion clinics with certified doctors and psychologists, for counseling purposes, this problem could be corrected. With on-campus abortion clinics, it would show the university to be more accepting and understanding of college students need for such medical facilities, and therefore, society as a whole may be more accepting. The clinics should be widely advertised so that students knew of their presence. However, they should also be in an environment that the students still feel safe and protected. It is imperative that these clinics include

psychologists for counseling needs because, as previously stated, college students are encountering many new experiences and may need someone to talk to about their decision. The increase of abortion clinics, in places where college students can access them, is essential to society being more understanding of college students' situation if they become pregnant.

Coming to a compromise
Abortion will always be a very controversial issue with many different aspects intertwining within the issue. People will have their set opinions on the topic and that is
fine. All that is being asked is, that society, as a whole, come to the realization of the situation that college students are a part of. An understanding of the stress and pressure that is already upon college students is needed to comprehend the impossibility of undertaking, and following through with, a pregnancy during these years of life. There are many people that consider themselves pro-choice, but pro-life for themselves. These people need to be recognized as leaders, in such that, they have made an opinion for their own bodies but are not willing to make the same decision for the rest of the world. For many reasons such as, lack of finances and medical care, society's expectations of our generation, and the emotional strain of pregnancy and motherhood clearly illustrate need for acceptance in today's world. College students are not emotionally nor financially stable enough to carry and raise a child. One night of stupidity should not be punishable by a lifetime of struggleIn three weeks, Jennifer will leave for college. She broke up with her boyfriend two weeks ago, and today she found out she was pregnant. Should Jennifer have an abortion, or stop all her plans and have a baby at eighteen? Either way the decision is hers to make. On January 22, 1973 the landmark decision of Roe vs. Wade occurring in the Supreme Court made abortion a "constitutional liberty" (Francome 20). Legally, Jennifer can receive an abortion. Socially, however, she will endure many more obstacles.

Fighting for society's acceptance
In today's American society, viewpoints on certain topics often conflict with what individuals believe is right. This is very evident in the argument for acceptance of abortions among college students. However, with the rise of the anti-abortion movement this procedure has become less accepted and harder to obtain. Should abortions among college students be more widely accepted in society? According to a Planned Parenthood study done in 1997, forty percent of seventeen year olds will become pregnant before their twenty-fifth birthday. This statistic is directly targeted at college age females. The answer is far from being strictly a black and white issue, but my own viewpoint is "yes" abortions should be accepted among society for many reasons. The controversial issue of abortion has many intertwining, surrounding complications. Such an issue is never concrete, "in

America, about 20% of Americans thoroughly oppose abortions, 20% thoroughly favor abortions, while a vast majority are 'muddled in the middle'" (Pojman and Beckwith 59). As with any pregnancy there are impending risks involved and many extenuating circumstances that justify an abortion. In a perfect world, abortions are not the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but there are many "bumps in the road," keeping the United States from being perfect.

Defining Life?
The main question facing society is the definition of a fetus' point of living. Pro-Lifers believe that, "a fertilized embryo is the foundation for a living human being" (National College Students for Life). In contrast, pro-choicers argue that a human being is something more concrete with it's own thought processes and consciousness. Petchesky argues, "the fetus is only a potential human being, and we confuse actual with potential" (432). So who is right and who is wrong? Who makes the definition of a living human being? These however, are questions that will most likely never be resolved. Therefore, both sides need to accept and respect each other views on the issue for society as a whole to be more accepting of abortion.

Emotional Instability
The emotions that result from being in a college atmosphere and the emotions that occur with pregnancy do not coincide. Most college students are not emotionally stable enough to carry or give birth to a child. As stated by Rosalind Petchesky, "women between the ages of eighteen and twenty are at the highest level of emotional insecurity

and have proven to be unfit mothers" (322). Entering college is a new experience for teenagers which involves a new sense of freedom and responsibility. College students are battling with being on their own for the first time, managing their time and studying. College students have too much emotional strain and stress on them to add the additional stress of having a child. A survey was conducted among college males and females on their various viewpoints of abortion. Of those surveyed, 82% of both males and females claimed they did not feel that they would make a capable parent while still remaining in college. Having a child brings a whole new sense of responsibility that I do not believe college students are able to handle. The added stress of morning sickness, mood swings, weight gain and other anxieties attributed to pregnancy would place to much of a emotional strain on an already tense college student. Pro-Lifers argue, "if one is responsible enough to have sex, one should be responsible enough to deal with the consequences" (National College Students for Life). I am in agreement with the responsibility necessary to be a part of a sexual relationship but the reality of unwanted pregnancies is far too large to overlook. Studies show that "each year, one million teenagers become pregnant and 85% of these pregnancies are unwanted" (Detroit News). Of course there is always the counter argument of putting the child up for adoption, but that leads to more emotional entanglements. Having to go through a nine month period carrying a child growing inside you may cause you to become attached to that child, which may not receive the life it deserves at that time.

Consequences of unwanted pregnancies
When examining the records of any mental or penal institution and prison, one realizes that in too many cases the person was raised in a household where the parents did not want the child (Landes 121). A child requires love and compassion to grow and live a happy life. The children that do not receive adequate attention often go to jail or become insane because they have never learned to love. Also because abortions are not always easily accessible or accepted, mothers find another way to get rid of the child. This means that the children live in foster homes where they do not lead stable lives (Landes 122). Extenuating circumstances

More than 87,000 rapes were reported in 1996, and 40% of those rapes were considered date or acquaintance rape among women between the ages of sixteen and twenty, typical college age students (Willke 193). Rape is a violent act that may leave a woman pregnant. Christina, a 20 year-old rape victim, remarks on her decision of abortion rather than adoption, "losing a seven week fetus which weighed less than aspirin tablet does not compare to losing a seven pound baby with hair and fingernails that would look like me" (Bender and Leone 132). Regardless how much a mother loves her child, it is unbearably difficult to look into its face without thinking about the mortifying activity on how the child was conceived. Rape is a harsh crime and having a baby reminding the woman is too much to ask, unless she is totally willing.

Abortions should also be more accepted and accessible to women whose lives are in danger or whose children will be born with a terminal illness. Pregnancy does not go with out health risks. However, "teenage mothers are more likely to give birth to unhealthy children due to their immaturity" (Maloy 124). It is not fair to the child nor the parents to bring the child into the world under those circumstances. The parent's life would be completely altered due to the demanding needs of terminal ill children and this would not correspond with a demanding college schedule.

Breakdown of sociological expectations
Society's expectations of today's generation also conflict with the acceptance of abortion among college students. All of our lives it is instilled in us to further our education by attending a college or university. Those females who have achieved this goal should be highly praised. However, this praise and recognition is then shattered upon them becoming pregnant. The treatment received and the emotional struggles endured will make it hard for a continuation of their college education, not to mention the emotional strength it takes to carry and then support a child. According to the same Planned Parenthood study, mentioned previously, the majority of female college students that have children in college, are not able to finish their college careers. Another issue that society deems important is family values, and once again, society's lack of acceptance of abortion conflicts with this issue. We have been taught, and studies show, that a nuclear family is healthiest. The probability of a pregnant college student being a part of a nuclear family, with two married parents, is low. As supported in

the survey conducted, 30% of males said they would not support a child that was a result of a one night stand. This leaves the child without a two parent family, which is against society's norm that we are expected to follow.

Financial burden
Seventy-three percent of college students are receiving some form of financial aid, grant, scholarship or student loan (College Board 1996). College students are usually already on a fixed and strict budget and children are a huge expense on top of that. It is estimated that 8,000-10,000 dollars are spent on a newborn within it's first year of life (Hume 213). With or without support, many college students could not afford the expense of a child in addition to college expenses, and therefore would be forced financially to drop out of school. Secondly, a large portion of the financial burden of children is held by medical expenses. There is a great insufficiency in the number of inexpensive and accessible medical utilities for young adults without any form of insurance. To follow through with a healthy pregnancy, adequate pre-natal care must be given. Because the majority of pre-natal development occurs within the first trimester (Willke 46), favorable development requires frequent check ups, along with vitamins and drugs that help prevent birth defects. Facilities that dispense such services are usually expensive and require medical insurance. After a child is born, immunizations and follow up care is required. These procedures also require some form of payment. The majority of college students do not have jobs that provide adequate medical coverage,

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