There are many people who would like to see abortion outlawed altogether. In the minds of these people, there is never a good reason for an abortion. Rape, incest, the likely death of a pregnant woman who already has a family, and any other conceivable reason are still unacceptable to those whose morals are staunchly set against abortion. There is really no problem at all with holding a personal view that abortion is always wrong, as long as it is understood that this is a personal view and not one that is to be imposed on everybody else. For example, if a woman is victimized in a sexual assault that leads to a pregnancy and she feels that abortion is always wrong, it is fine that she should carry the pregnancy to full-term and raise the child herself or place the infant in a loving adoptive home. However, an unfortunate problem with some of the people who believe that abortion is always wrong is that they believe they should be able to dictate the lives of other people. For example, a woman in the community who believes that abortion is always wrong should not be able to decide for some unrelated fourteen-year-old girl who is pregnant because of incest that this girl must carry the pregnancy to term. However, there are people who would like to dictate what others can do based on religion or other factors, using a broad hand to make all abortions illegal without considering lives, facts, or specific circumstances.
Additionally, the people who would like to make all abortions across the board illegal, no matter the circumstance, often try to influence others to their side by using scare tactics and medical myths. Websites like ChristiaNet claim, “The health threat to the mother after going through with the procedure as well as the lifelong health risks that remain should be good enough reasons abortion should be illegal,” citing difficulty in future pregnancies, cancers, depression, and a “high risk of death during the procedure” as typical problems a woman has following an abortion. Current authority figures like Congressional representative Todd Akin also promote myths about the female reproductive system in order to defend a stance that would make abortion illegal, saying things like, “If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” (Gentilviso). Physician Dr. Mary Steichien Calderone writes in a paper published in 1960 that “abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure” (949), while the American Cancer Society has debunked another popular abortion myth by citing numerous studies that abortion is linked to breast cancer (“Is Abortion”). Nevertheless, the myths persist.
Although it is unfortunate that websites continue to promote fictions as facts and that authority figures like Akin try to influence the public with false information in order to sway voters, what is valuable about the situation is the amount of controversy and conversation it causes. Although many people recognized Akin’s words as ridiculous and false, there are plenty of others who may have learned for the first time, because of the controversy, that Akin’s “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” idea is medically and scientifically unsound. Controversy reminds voters and future voters that as a nation of the free, we are not all required to walk in a lockstep march, to believe the same things, and to do the same things in every circumstance. If abortion remains legal, any individual who has moral, religious, or other reasons against having an abortion is not required to have an abortion or to approve of anybody having abortions.
A nation that is founded on freedom, especially religious freedom, should not let its laws be dictated by any particular religion. According to ProCon.org, “The anti-abortion position is usually based on religious beliefs and threatens the vital separation of church and state. Religious ideology should not be a foundation for law in the United States.” It seems that numerous politicians have used people’s strong feelings about abortion as an emotional weapon to influence votes, especially appealing to religious voters. Although these politicians are welcome to their personal beliefs regarding abortion, it is important that political opponents possessing accurate medical and scientific information about abortion should step up to the plate and engage their unwelcome but true information about abortion. The legality of abortion does not mean that it is the best choice for any particular person, but it does represent a triumph of reason and freedom for the nation.
It would be a lot easier for people to accept a legal decision about abortion if it were not linked so closely to tightly-held religious and moral stances; it would be easier if science clearly demonstrated that it is a dangerous procedure. However, it is not easy and it never will be. The staunchly religious should take heart that though abortion remains legal, the continual moral controversy provides a compass to guide the decisions of many. For those that face the difficult truths that people encounter each day, abortion must remain legal as a testament to the enduring freedom and reason of the nation.
“Abortion Background.” AbortionProCon.Org (15 Oct. 2013). Web. http://abortion.procon.org/#Background
Calderone, Mary Steichen. “Illegal Abortion as a Public Health Problem.” A.J.P.H. 50.7 (Jul. 1960): 948-954. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1373382/pdf/amjphnation00308-0022.pdf
Gentilviso, Chris. “Todd Akin On Abortion: 'Legitimate Rape' Victims Have 'Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down.’” The Huffington Post (19 Aug. 2012). Web. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/19/todd-akin-abortion-legitimate-rape_n_1807381.html
“Is Abortion Linked to Breast Cancer?” The American Cancer Society (n.d.). Accessed 2 Dec 2013. Web. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/is-abortion-linked-to-breast-cancer
“Reasons Abortion Should Be Illegal.” ChristiaNet (n.d.). Accessed 2 Dec. 2013. Web. http://www.christianet.com/abortionfacts/reasonsabortionshouldbeillegal.htm