If you know me, you know I can talk about just near anything with anyone. I’m not a gal that shies away from giving my opinion, whether it’s right, wrong or even requested.
So why do I have such a difficult time discussing the legal and moral implications of abortion?
Life is sacred, and to end the existence of a living being regardless of whether they are an innocent unborn fetus or a convicted killer saddens me. That said, I refuse to impose these beliefs on others and will not judge a woman for her decision. Only God has that ability.
Nor will I criticize the activists who work to overturn Roe v. Wade, especially those whose only goal is to protect those who cannot protect themselves. That’s their right, and their choice, as well. A careful balance needs to be maintained to ensure that the reproductive rights given by the courts are upheld without trampling over the rights of the unborn in the process. No, this is no easy task.
Some might call me a hypocrite, straddling the issue with my toes dangling over both sides. And you know what, they’d be right. I can’t explain why I take this stance. It’s a feeling more than anything. No one should be able to put stipulations on ending a life. Somehow though, I’m doing just that.
You’d think abortion would be a pretty black or white issue, hence the passionate reactions from the pro-life and pro-choice sides of the debate. And for many people it is. Few advocate a middle ground. Not that I blame them. At the center of the arguments both activists stay true to their core moral conviction, whether it be the right for women to control their own bodies or the sanctity of all human life. Compromise can, at times, seem duplicitous.
Take for instance the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that the U.S. House passed last Tuesday by a largely party line, 228-196 vote. If enacted, the legislation would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks. Excluded from the bill are pregnancies caused by rape or incest or if the life of the mother is endangered. As reflected in the name, the authors of the bill justified the imposed time limit based on scientific studies that indicate a 20-week fetus can feel pain.
Haven’t heard of the legislation? Neither had I until I ran across its passage on a Washington Post blog. Few media outlets covered it, most likely due to the slim chance it has for becoming law.
Because of the partisan nature of the issue, Senate passage remains unlikely. Just in case, the White House issued a statement threatening to veto the act that, in their words, would “unacceptably restrict women’s health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman’s right to choose.”
In general, polls suggest a majority of Americans support some restrictions on abortion. According to results from a May 2013 Gallop poll, 69 percent of respondents opposed abortions past the second trimester of pregnancy. Include only third trimester abortions and the number of those against the procedure increased to 80 percent. In general though, 51 percent considered themselves pro-choice and 35 percent claim to be pro-life. Like me, only 7 percent don’t really know which group they belong.
Despite these and other surveys that show citizens’ apprehension about the late term procedure, the pro-choice lobby for the most part remains unwilling to give in to regulations on abortion for fear it may lead to a roundabout invalidation of Roe v. Wade, even if the acts in question seem particularly horrific.
Let’s face it. While rare, the recent Gosnell trial brought the atrocities that can occur at these clinics to the public’s attention and rightfully so. And while reproductive rights are important, pro-choice advocates must realize that the unborn child at some point has rights too.
Other than if the life of the mother is at risk, abortion should be limited to the first trimester. Viability can be debated until the cows come home, but common sense should tell you that at 20 weeks a fetus looks and moves pretty much like a fully functioning infant. Think about it. A mom can feel the baby start to squirm around this time. How can a civilized society allow for anything but these basic restrictions to occur?
Likewise, both lobbies need to continue to advocate measures that reduce the need for abortions. Greater accessibility to birth control and promoting adoption can only begin to help. What’s truly needed is a culture that respects and promotes sanctity of life for all.
That should be something that all of us can talk about.
— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org