I’m unsure whether to begin this post with “Happy Roe v. Wade Day!”. Today marks the 40th anniversary since the famous court case made it legal for women in the U.S. to have an abortion – something I personally believe is a human right to have. However, many people are rather against the idea of abortion, commonly on religious grounds, and such grounds will simply not budge. They regard the results of Roe v. Wade to be the cause of millions of “murders”. Every year on this date, “pro-life” supporters rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington D.C., in an event called “March for Life”. I however, will be celebrating the day as a good one: the day when women reclaimed power over their own bodies and their own futures.
In Australia the laws for abortion (which started changing around 1969) differ slightly from state to state – it is legal in every state if done by a medical professional if there are factors that justify the action, e.g. rape, physical/mental health of the pregnant woman, social and economic factors. Basically, if you have a good reason to not have a child, then it is perfectly ok. Which is the whole reason why I, and many others, believe that abortion should be legal. If a woman wants an abortion, she clearly has a reason to do so. At that point in time, she clearly doesn’t think she can raise a child – and if she doesn’t think she can, she is very likely to be right. It would be horrible to grow up unwanted or not properly cared for or being thrown around from one caretaker to another (if a foster family wasn’t found).
A very intriguing argument for legalized abortion can be found in Levitt and Dubner’s book Freakonomics in which they hypothesize, based on considerable evidence, that the legalization of abortion severely reduced the rate of crime in the U.S. This is because unwanted children are statistically far more likely to get into crime, due to background – because of the legalization of abortion, these unwanted children were no longer being born and consequently were simply not around to commit the crimes normally committed by young adults of their background. So by legalizing abortion, governments are preventing children being born into unfortunate lifestyles. If you can get your hands on a copy of Freakonomics I highly suggest you do so: but if not, there is a short link to a video that sums up the argument they present.
Another argument of course for the continued legalization of abortion is the black market. If women are denied their right to their own bodies, many of them will simply resort to extremely unsafe abortions. Prior to the success of Roe v. Wade, an estimate of over 5000 women died annually as a result of an unsafe illegal abortion. However now that it is available safely, the death rate is 0.6 per 100 000 people, which is statistically 11 times safer than going through with a pregnancy. “Pro-life” supporters may argue abortion kills – but making it illegal will kill women.
And of course there is just the well being of women in general. Having a child when a child is unwanted would be detrimental, regardless of whether or not the child was then put up for adoption. I find the ‘unwanted children can be put to adoption’ argument to be in bad taste, as it ignores the fact that, for at least 9 months, someone’s life is going to be pretty horrid, but with no “it will be worth it” light at the end of the tunnel. It’s pretty much impossible to hide an unwanted pregnancy, and women risk certain disruption to their lives – whether is be socially, professionally or otherwise.
And this is why I believe Roe v. Wade Day should be celebrated in good taste as a triumph in women’s rights. Of course you’re free to disagree with me – different opinions are what make this world interesting. However I will be looking at this day positively.
Of course I have been very one sided here, because I am very firm in my belief that legal abortion does more good than harm. There is always a counter argument, and if you are interested, there is a link below that will take you to a “pro-life” argument, with a decidedly religious slant.
Facts on legal abortion (where I got the information in paragraph 4)
Attitudes towards abortion throughout history