Letter to the Editor: Opinion on the Legality of Abortion

parsippany focus

parsippany focusDear Editor:

As it stands today, the legality of abortion is one of the most hotly debated issues in American politics. One side finds legalizing abortion to be the legalization of murdering humans, and some find abortion to be against their faith, while the other side, people find that controlling abortion is akin to controlling the functions of people’s bodies. Historically, abortion has been illegal and unsafe, until Margaret Sanger’s push for it in the early 1900s, when it became legal. Its legality was upheld with the Supreme court case Roe v. Wade. Although abortion is immoral in some ways, it should be legal as no level of government has the right to restrict it.

To define its immorality, science shows that a fetus is indeed a living being. According to humanity’s latest biology, there are eight primary conditions to life. A fetus or even the first cell created at conception is living. However, this isn’t disputed by the left and right; the more controversial topic here is whether or not it is moral to kill it, since it has no functional ability. Many pro-abortion scholars point to a 1999 Princeton paper, which concludes that functional life – that is meaningful life (development of lungs, kidneys, etc.) starts much later. I argue that this is irrelevant; life is a life, and intentionally taking someone’s life (even if it’s a fetus) is immoral. Many of these scholars fail to provide differentiation between a fetus’ functionality (that is, none outside of the mother) and a purely dysfunctional human (a bedridden person) outside of their meaning to others. This illustrates a moral discrepancy in the justification of abortion. Although I do believe abortion is immoral, I still believe it should be legal.

One of the biggest progressions for abortion was the Roe v. Wade case, which legalized abortion. The rationale in the 7-2 decision was that the fourth amendment guaranteed the right to privacy within an individual’s own body. Although I do not necessarily disagree with the outcome, I do strongly disagree with the ruling. The fourth amendment states nothing of the kind, and the intentions of the writers of that amendment have nothing to do with abortion, but rather search upon stoppage by the government or police. The actions by that court were clearly judicial activism, attempting to get the desired outcome, with total disregard for the constitution. As argued by Professor Ely of Yale in 1973, the ruling assumed that the 4th amendment covered privacy although not explicitly outlined and that the amendment covered the right to terminate a pregnancy as a subset of the right to privacy. Ely argues that the law should have been about the 9th amendment’s “reservation of rights to the people,” or in the 14th amendment’s right to personal liberties. Richard Cohen of the Washington Post also disagrees with the ruling of ‘right to privacy. Cohen, like me, argues that this ruling was judicial activism, and goes further to say the Court does not care about ‘the right to privacy, as evident in the continuing ban on alcohol to minors, recreational drug use, and all other activities that do not impede on the rights of others and are done outside the public eye. Ely also identifies where the government’s interests lie, as found in the ruling of Roe v. Wade: in the first and second trimester, abortion is only restricted by the health of the mother, whereas in the third trimester, abortion is restricted entirely as the interest of protecting the viable (that is, functionally alive as defined above) is ‘compelling’ (or more relevant) as the Court sees it. This is certainly much more immoral than banning or legalizing abortion outright, as now it tiers the importance of lives: a mother’s will and control over her own body are meaningless beyond a certain point, and the life of the fetus/child is only important when they are functionally able.

Although I firmly believe that abortion is the immoral killing of another human, I find that the government has no jurisdiction over the individual’s bodies and so has no power to stop abortion. A common argument from pro-life scholars is that the fetus has the right to be in the mother, as the fetus is there due to factors beyond his/her control. I disagree because this is irrelevant, the fetus does not have the right to be there, just as the mother has no obligation to hold the fetus. As per the Capitalist Magazine, there is inherent permission granted at the time of conception, or sex. This can be revoked at any time, as desired by the mother, not the government. The government cannot control an individual, and so its collective interest should not lie in stopping an abortion they have no moral right over it. Additionally, banning abortion would not be successful anyway, as pointed out by former Libertarian candidate Harry Browne. Either way, the government will not succeed in stopping abortions, as they failed with stopping drug addictions. The government would close safe abortion facilities, and then women would turn to dangerous alternatives, in almost the same numbers. The risk of aborting illegally will be less than the financial and social consequences of bringing another into the world. Perhaps, the only way to decrease abortion is to incentivize birth control usage and decrease the explicit and implicit cost of having a child. Overall, banning abortion is outside of the control and ability of the government.

Neil Deshpande