Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Roe v Wade: Abortion in Context

Abortion is one of the most controversial issues that women still face today. Unlike many other rights women have gained in recent years, the right to abort a pregnancy is both a legal and religious matter. Much of the conversation surrounding abortion deals with the morality of the action and people are hesitant to allow the termination of a pregnancy without special circumstances.

Mr. Doggett introduced us to the legal component of abortion and its historical context. Jane Roe, (Norma McCorvey) was a mother of two and expecting a third when she approached her state government and requested an abortion. After being refused the service, Jane took the case to court and battled the federal government and later the supreme court. One of the arguments of the court seemed illogical from my modern-day standpoint. They argued that the responsibility of the government is to protect its people through all medical procedures. Many women at the time who were refused aboritons would go into the back alley and attempt to kill the fetus themselves. These methods were dangerous and life threatening to both the mother and the baby. Upon refusal of abortive services it is possible that Jane would attempt an illegal, unsafe abortion. How then, is the government ensuring the safety of its people?

Jane's case built upon a few other cases that took place before her time. Skinner v Oklahoma was a case that disputed privacy and personal rights. Skinner was a criminal with numerous offenses and was considered to have dangerous genes. To control Mr. Skinner, the government decided to castrate him and take away his right to procreate. His argument was supported by several amendments to the Constitution that pointed to rights of privacy. Jane made an example out of Skinner and used his situation to her advantage. If a man has the right to his body and the right to procreate, Jane felt that she had the right not to. She felt as though if she didn't want to have another child she should be able to access recourses like contraception and abortive procedures. The court was firm in their religious beliefs and argued that contraception would enable women to have extramarital affairs, which was against Roman Catholicism.

Another dispute behind abortion lies within human rights. The government is responsible for protecting the rights of all humans. But the fine line cannot be drawn; at what point is a fetus considered a human being? The third trimester? At the moment of brain activity? One exact moment has still not been determined. Jane fought that she, a living and breathing human, should have more rights to her body than the small fetus inside of her.

If abortion is ever fully accepted in all states, women will likely be more empowered. Part of the male argument behind forbidding abortion stems from the aspect of power that accompanies such a choice. The idea that women should have any power or control over their lives is clearly a terrifying notion.

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