An Opinion Piece On Abortions In America

It's A Girl Thing...

Her hands were soaked with sweat while her stomach fluttered in fear. She walked through the convenience store all by herself. With each step closer to the bathroom, her surroundings blurred and her legs got slower.

It is as if she was moving through a blizzard but can never reach the warm cabin lit up in the distance. She opens the door. She pees. She waits. Plus sign. 

Maybe this is a celebration and she will go home to tell her husband it finally worked and they were having a baby. She saves the test in her purse and walks out through the store much more confidently this time.

Except maybe this is the opposite of a celebration but in fact the worst day of her life. A few weeks ago she was raped and she cannot bear to go through the emotional trauma of that situation anymore.

Maybe she is a broke college student who works two jobs to make tuition dues. She cannot afford a baby and cannot afford the extra stress. Maybe she is a drug addict who does not have her life together and knows that this baby would not make it in her belly.

One thing these potential stories all have in common is that the woman is pregnant and the woman has the right to do as she wishes about that. Not only should abortion be legal in all of the US states but also abortions should be easier to access, affordable, and educated on. It is a girl thing, not a government thing. 

Abortion rights
Source: Unsplash

Abortions have been a debate since early as the mid-1800s when laws were starting to make them be illegal (Federation). Laws against abortion were put into place starting by trying to stop the fear of the population being dominated by immigrant children.

However, this did not stop women from getting the procedure done. Women would go to illegal practitioners that performed the surgery resulting in dangerous outcomes and even death (Federation).

Women suffered serious problems after seeing a doctor who was not qualified to give the abortion by using wrong methods or unsanitary conditions, making the hospital treat thousands of women who were dealing with the effects (Federation).

This resulted in the earliest debates of doctors trying to legalize abortions in order to “prevent untrained practitioners from competing with them for patients” (Federation) along with the patient fees. 

The right for women to get abortions in all states was the outcome of the 1973 Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade. The case gave women the right to make their own personal medical choices, which included the government being unable to interfere (Parenthood).

The case started off in Texas when 21-year-old Jane Roe got pregnant and was unable to abort it due to the 1854 law that criminalized abortion except when necessary to save the women’s life (Johnsen).

Henry Wade represented Texas to keep and defend the abortion law that they had already in place (Federation). The Supreme Court voted seven to two that stated, “The Texas law violated a woman’s fundamental right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy free of governmental interference before the point of fetal viability” (Johnsen). Seven of those judges voted in favor of Roe, dominantly winning the case, and giving women the right to decide. 

Roe v Wade
Source: Unsplash

Currently, abortions are legal and protected by The U.S. Constitution, however, anti-abortionists have made it harder for women to gain access by court battles, ballots, and legislative restrictions (Parenthood).

Women have the protected right to decide whether or not to have children and to make the decision for themselves without any interference by politics or government. The debate around abortions is still heated today with the opposing political party views and the pro-choice and pro-life movements. 

When looking at if abortions are accessible and affordable it is key to know the different options of abortions and what they do. Both services are offered by Planned Parenthood and both are important, as the timing of when they can be done, differ.

The first type of abortion available is a surgical procedure or an in-clinic abortion. The patient is given antibiotics and dilators to stretch the cervix. The cervix is opened so a tube can enter the uterus. A suction device will empty out the woman’s uterus and remove any remaining tissue lining the walls (Planned Parenthood).

The procedure can take up to ten minutes but the patient must spend an hour in recovery. If the woman wants anesthesia or to be sedated during the surgery to help with the pain it is an extra charge due to the limited funding for abortion. 

The other method accessible to women at Planned Parenthood is the abortion pill, otherwise known as Medicated Abortion. The abortion pill blocks the hormone progesterone that breaks down the lining of the uterus making the pregnancy terminated.

Two days later the patient would take another medicine, misoprostol, which is what empties the uterus. The abortion will be complete within one to five hours (Planned Parenthood). 

Are these procedures affordable and accessible? The abortion pill can only be used up to ten weeks after the first day of the last period (Planned Parenthood). After ten weeks the pill is not an option and an in-clinic abortion must be done.

This short window of time leaves women with only one other option when they may not have known they were pregnant yet or have not yet come to a decision.

The average financial cost of this pill can range anywhere from $300 to $800 dollars (American Pregnancy). Obviously, this is an expensive option for women of low- income. Planned Parenthood also provides services to teenagers who are in school and lack full-time jobs, making it hard to come up with this kind of money.

However with a new law in action as of 2018, Planned Parenthood posts on their site, “Illinois law requires Planned Parenthood of Illinois to notify a parent or adult family member if a woman age 17 or younger seeks an abortion unless a judge gives a waiver” (Planned Parenthood).

Many of these abortions are because of unintended pregnancies of young girls. They provide the option of getting a judge to sign a waiver because of the backgrounds and situations some of these girls are dealing with.

The statement continues, “The adult family member does not have to give permission for the minor to have an abortion, but an adult family member must be notified” (Planned Parenthood).

Thankfully the teenagers do not need a stamp of approval and can get the procedure done anyway, but the parent or guardian still has to know, which could affect relationships. 

On the other hand, in-clinic abortions are offered in the state of Illinois up to 19 weeks of pregnancy (Planned Parenthood). The policies of abortion give limited time and options. With only two choices of abortions and a quick time cut-off, some women are left with no other choice than to go through with the pregnancy because it is too late.

Many other women still need time even after the 12 to 16 week period. Women still may need time to make the difficult decision about what to do with the pregnancy, have trouble with finance or transportation for the abortion, fear of telling parents or a partner, or the lack of knowledge they were even pregnant (Ludlow). In order for women to make a choice on the pregnancy, they need the ability and a chance to even think about that life-altering choice. 

Abortions are deemed as a legal choice but as we saw that choice is already limited by race, class, resources, and accessibility (Ludlow). In 1992 President George Herbert Bush made changes to the Supreme Court by appointing more Republicans making the court seem to be in favor of overruling Roe in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case (Johnsen).

The court however reaffirmed Roe by voting five to four in the court case. The Republican Party is the political view against abortions and is pro-life. Most bills and laws against funding or abortions were due to the conservative party, however as we see here the actions did not always go through, as the Supreme Court knew how far they were able to go when deciding for the people. 

One victory for the anti-abortionists and Republican Party took place on November 5, 2003, when George W. Bush signed the “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban” into law (Ludlow). The ban was a result of politicians’ personal opinions and not based on the procedure proven not to have any safety issues.

The law includes “the person performing the abortion deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus ... for the purpose of performing an overt act of that the person knows will kill the partially delivered having fetus and performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus” (Ludlow).

The ban was a more recent issue that took place on the timeline of abortion history. It was a win for the Republic Party even though most of the states appealed the ban. 

When deciding if abortions should be legal the Countries politicians play a huge role in the media and sway citizens' opinions. When CNN’s news reporter asked representatives from both political parties what they think of the government holding the budget over funding Planned Parenthood, the republican party spokeswoman asked him a question right back of, “Why is this a current issue right now?” (CNN).

She states how this debate is more than contraceptive pills and instead aims her arguments towards Planned Parenthood and how it does not use its funding well. She also mentions, “If the budget had gotten done last year when the majority of Democrats were in office, this would not be an issue. Planned Parenthood should not be brought into getting government funding abortion” (CNN).

When the debate on television took place, it was the year 2011 when the GOP announces they will not fund Planned Parenthood for family planning, abortions, or contraceptive pills. The conservative House of Representatives proposed an amendment to the spending bill for family planning services that would have lost Planned Parenthood the $75 million dollar federal funds they received. 

Planned Parenthood is the lead voice of action when giving women the right to decide. An organization with over 800 clinics in America serves low-income women and families but is a place welcome to all. Along with contraception and abortions, Planned Parenthood offers family planning, H.I.V. information and counseling, STI testing and treatment, cancer screenings, and medical services (Eckholm).

Congress does not give funds directly out for abortion but gives money to family planning support such as Planned Parenthood and sexual health education funds to Medicaid (Eckholm). Planned Parenthood points out that no one who opposes them has come up with a better while the realistic option for low-income women.

In fact, Cohen of the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization dedicated to sexual health and rights, says every dollar spent on contraception to low-income women is four dollars saved by the government in costs for unintended pregnancies. 

Planned Parenthood
Source: NBC News

There are two main reasons most of those who disagree with abortion follow that are political and or religious views. I talked with the executive director at Illinois Right to Life to hear why the government should be able to decide for women on whether they can have an abortion or not.

Emily Troscinski bases her beliefs solely on science. She tells me, “Every basic biology book will tell you at conception an unborn child is created that is completely unique from the mother and his/her uniqueness will never again be repeated in the history of the world” (Troscinski). With this defense on science, she is saying the fetus must be treated equally.

This is the basis for the political view of the government deciding the choice of abortion. She believes the government’s role is to protect the innocent from the powerful, “so that everyone may be treated equally and given the opportunity to grow and thrive [...] Abortion kills an unborn child and therefore it is all of our duties to protect the innocent child” (Troscinski).

She repeated many times how the government is to protect the innocent from the powerful, and how the baby is the innocent and the mother is powerful. I understand her point clearly as she ties in other laws such as theft and how it protects the innocent. But is the mother not an innocent here? The mother has the choice from the government, who is powerful, and we must protect that right as well. 

However, instead of only focusing on the fetus, which most pro-life organizations do, she brings up a point surrounding the mother. Emily says how “Telling a woman she must kill her unborn child in order to be successful is demeaning to women and oppressive to the unborn child” (Troscinski). Is she actually defending the mother in this case though?

There are no doubt mothers can be successful after having a baby, as many are, but not all mothers are given the resources and health to give that child the best life and still take care of themselves, and that is where she went wrong. 

When asking Emily about politics or religion playing a role in her beliefs she stated her view was not about either but only science as she declared previously. Instead, I went to ask a Catholic Studies professor to explain how the Bible and religion give them meaning to their stance on this debate.

Dr. Karen Scott of DePaul University strives to not judge others and their decisions but to understand and love when they do not match her beliefs. She tells me, “All the different books of the Bible support the conviction that God is all about fostering human life. God is the Source of all good things, and human life is one of those good things created by God [...] Christians of all sorts try to put into practice central beliefs that are found in the Bible” (Scott).

As a follower of the Bible, there is no way the Bible supports abortion in Scott’s defense and that is why religious views are important to many people. However, Scott recognizes that the Bible is not a modern U.S. political book and the Bible cannot give a position on the political issue and it is more of a Christian view or a person who wants to follow God, to hold the priority of favoring Gods wish of life.

Scott ends with, “There is no way, in my view, that you can use the bible to support abortion. That being said, the God that Catholics believe in is also a God of mercy and forgiveness--again a God who wants to support human happiness and thriving” (Scott).

She recognizes the Christian duty to forgive and understand others even if it is against the message of human happiness from scripture, because to her, God is made of forgiveness and mercy. 

A new movement has sprung into the abortion debate. The paternalistic argument is based on philosophy and looking at the paternal premises. The supporters state how abortion is wrong and should be restricted or avoided when possible because it harms the women’s psychological health and well-being (Mayans).

They consider the mother's personal and psychological health but one of the reasons to support abortion is because of the mother’s inability to care for a child. The paternalistic argument gives a different light to abortions by looking at the protection of motherhood and the nature that comes with it.

It is an anti-abortion view but favors the mother rather than the child. However, it only strengthens the argument of abortions being legal because of the weak point made and how women’s personal health who may need to abort the baby due to mental reasons not making them healthier to keep it. 

This view is pro-life but counters Emily Troscinski’s organization, Illinois Right to Life’s, support of science that is also pro-life. They say how it is impossible to show the fetus knows of its existence making it illogical to argue the rights of a fetus who is still at a potential for the object, or person, it will become (Mayans).

The paternalistic argument also adds, “Even if fetuses have some sort of moral status, women’s liberty trumps it when pregnancy is costly or is the product of rape” (Mayans).

The view is for restricted abortion such as considering the financial status of the women or the situation of a traumatic event, the paternalistic argument still believes that abortion is wrong regardless of the fetus is aware of its existence and has a full moral status. More importantly, this pro-life argument does not argue pro-life for the sake of the fetus, but solely for the mother. 

The Paternalistic argument looks at other countries for an example. They are inspired by the new abortion laws that are influenced by psychology, as most supporters of this argument are (Mayans). The laws claim, “women who abort invariably find themselves in bad deliberative position, whether due to manipulation, moral confusion, economic stress, or social pressure” (Mayans).

The psychologist believes that if a woman is seriously going to abort, she was not prepared to make a decision herself. A Nebraska made a court ruling in using the same sort of reasoning.

Pollitt’s book states, “The work of mothers is so unvalued that a judge in Nebraska, previously a layer for Operation Rescue, can deny a sixteen-year-old in foster care the abortion she wants on the grounds that she isn’t mature enough to choose abortion - but apparently, she is mature enough to go through pregnancy and childbirth and raise a child.

Anybody can do that” (Pollitt). Women are just as capable of making choices for themselves as men, and even more capable of making the choice for their own body than a government body of people who do not personally know her. 

The argument looks into the negative effects of motherhood an abortion would cause. The article states, “Pregnancy offers a particularly good opportunity to develop these proto- moral sentiments in a unique way.

This is because the object receiving and nurturing such feelings is a woman’s own offspring. Accordingly, since pregnancy enables women to promote these emotions toward their fetuses, abortions harm them-in impending them from discharging a duty to themselves” (Mayans).

The theory looks at the fetus receiving nurture and emotion from the mother. Here they are using the absence of the fetus to cause harm to the mother because she will not be sending the caring emotions to herself anymore. There is no biological evidence of this to support their theory as well as these hormones and feelings would not even be happening if the mother were to proceed with an abortion. 

Contrary to what the Paternalistic Argument points out, not all women feel like horrible people after they have an abortion. Shawanna tells her story at Planned Parenthood of how the abortion she had at age seventeen made her life the success it is now.

Shawanna got pregnant at age seventeen, shortly after her mother died of ovarian cancer and she had to take responsibility for her younger sister. She was not in a relationship steady to support a child and neither was she steady emotionally or financially.

Shawanna had not even finished high school yet. Planned Parenthood helped her through her decision and also helped her get funding for the abortion. Now Shawanna has her high school diploma and is a certified nurse assistant who ended up working for Planned Parenthood to help other women like they once did for her.

She now has a little boy, is a proud parent, and does not regret or feel bad about the choice she made at seventeen years old. Her life would not have been the way it is now, she may not have been able to pursue her career in the medical field, and would not have the blessing of a son she has now. 

If a woman is pregnant, the woman has the right to do as she wishes about that pregnancy. Not only should abortion be legal in all of the United States of America but abortions should also be easier to access, affordable, and be educated on. She opens the door. She pees. She waits. Plus sign.

The woman holds onto the sink in the convenience store bathroom and looks at herself in the reflection of the mirror. It is science, as a baby of unique DNA is now inside of her. It is also religion, as her faith may influence her decision, however, that is personal and we are not a country with a declared religion.

It is history, as the woman may have conceived this baby through a loving marriage or a nightmare experience. She puts the test in the back pocket of her jeans and walks out of the store knowing it is a choice, her choice, and a woman’s choice. It is not a government thing, it is a girl thing.


Association. CNN. “Planned Parenthood funding debate heated.” Youtube. CNN, 8 April. 2011. Web. 4 March. 2018.

Eckholm, Erik. “Planned Parenthood Financing Is Caught in Budget Feud.” New York Times. 

New York Times, 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 15 March 2018. 

Federation, National Abortion. “History of Abortion.” National Abortion Federation, 

Johnsen, Dawn. “Abortion, Legal and Political Issues.” Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender, edited by Fedwa Malti-Douglas, vol. 1, Macmillan References USA, 2007, pp1-3. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 25 Feb. 2018. 

Ludlow, J. (2008). Sometimes, it's a child and a choice: Toward an embodied abortion

Praxis1. NWSA Journal, 20(1), 26-50. Retrieved from ountid=10477 

Mayans, Itzel and Moises Vaca, “The Paternalistic Argument against Abortion.” Hypatia, vol. 33, no. 1, Feb. 2018, pp. 22-39. EBSCOhost. 

Parenthood, Planned. “Abortion Access.” Planned Parenthood Action Fund, 

Pollitt, Katha. Pro Reclaiming Abortion Rights. New York: Picador Books, 2014. Print. Scott, Karen. Personal Interview. 13 March. 2018.

Troscinski, Emily. Personal Interview. 13 March. 2018. 

Just a girl living in the city, writing, and loving my friends, family, and cats.

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