The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Opposing Viewpoints: Women's Privacy Trumps Abortion Ban

2 min read

What lovelier way to decorate campus walk than with the anti-abortion sentiments of outdated ideals and arrogant philosophies? If you do not agree with today’s legal precedent on abortion, then do not get one. As if abortion is an easy decision for any pregnant woman. It is a personal decision to be made by the individual, not by authoritarian legislation.

Two major concerns seem to structure the abortion debate: politics and morality. Politically, does the government retain the right to tell a woman what she can do to her uterus? Morally, and more controversially, when does life begin? Does protoplasm—a few cells clumped together—have the same rights as an adult.

To deal with the former, the government has no right to extend its power to the female reproductive system and has not retained such power since 1973, in the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. Using the 9th and the 14th amendments, the Supreme Court extended a woman’s right to privacy to involve abortions.

The most recent legal precedent involving abortion is Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which occurred in 1992. This case limited access to abortions and placed burdens on pregnant women seeking an abortion. This case upheld a woman’s right to an abortion but transferred power to the states in determining restrictions and burdens on the woman.

Even if abortions were illegal, this would merely stop doctors from executing the procedure. It would surely not end women terminating the pregnancy by their own means. Many of today’s pharmaceuticals, while intended for other purposes, are capable of terminating a pregnancy and are vulnerable to abuse.

On the morality of the issue, science thus far seems inadequate to answer when life begins. Subjective and biased tests will undoubtedly yield results in favor of those performing them. This issue is perhaps too complicated and personal to ever gather a unified voice from American citizens. Whether you are against abortions or not, it is irrelevant to the woman who is receiving the operation. Ultimately, the decision is hers to make.

What the pro-life camp does not fully comprehend is the life of the woman. According to author Ayn Rand, “Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living.”

To those with a conscience, does it seem that the pro-life argument emphasizes the wrong life? Women who are forced to take the pregnancy to term are sacrificing their own lives. Nine months of labor, and if they keep the child, perhaps an entire future surrendered to the desolate misfortunes of unwanted parenthood.

More importantly, what right do politicians, self-righteous in their agendas, have to condemn a woman to such an intolerable choice?
Raising a child is a tremendous responsibility, and one who is unwilling to bear such a burden should not have to. Especially in extreme circumstances, like rape or incest.