The Battle over Abortion

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they argue that the fetus deserves no moral consideration as it develops into a human being. Says Pro-Choice Advocate Daniel Callahan of the Institute of Society, Ethics and Life Sciences: "A respect for the sanctity of life, with its bias in favor even of undeveloped life, is enough to make the taking of such a life a moral problem."

The pro-choice side points out what is undeniably true: a woman has a right to privacy, a right to control her body and her reproductive life. Says Lobbyist Shack: "We believe there is no greater tyranny over an individual than the power to control childbearing." For most women who seek abortions, there are very practical reasons. The changing mores that some social conservatives lament have freed many women from what the pro-choice advocates call a "barefoot and pregnant" domestic role. For a career woman, or a young student working to enter the job market, being forced to bear an unwanted child, and perhaps deciding to accept an undesired marriage, will drastically alter her life forever. For poorer women or—in these times of high inflation—many middle-class women, the burden of an extra child is something they and their entire family may well find destructive. The right to seek an abortion gives women an element of freedom and control over their lives that men have always had. Says NOW'S Eleanor Smeal of those in Washington who would usurp this freedom: "They are getting Government off the backs of Big Business and putting it into the lives of women."

For others, the need for an abortion is even more pressing. Dr. Jane Hodgson, medical director of a Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, describes some who come to her clinic: "In many cases the husband or live-in boyfriend has left them struggling to bring up other children, and they are the only breadwinner in the family. Some are alcoholics, others have drug problems. What is to happen to these cases?" In addition, there are the special personal problems posed by teen-age pregnancies. Warns a Planned Parenthood ad: "What if your baby is going to have a baby? Each pregnant teen-ager is somebody's daughter, with her entire life in front of her. Yet the Right-to-Life movement wants to force her to have a baby. No matter how young she is. No matter how she, her doctor, or her parents feel. Even if the pregnancy resulted from rape." Opponents of abortion need to face hard questions. Why should the Government mandate that pregnancy not be ended when the woman is the victim of rape or incest? Or when there is evidence that she is physically or psychologically unsuited for motherhood? Or when examinations prove that the fetus will be born dead or hopelessly defective?

The main question, at least for politicians, is what role Government—federal and state—should play. It is the people who need protection the most, the poor and the young, who will be directly affected by what politicians decide about funding, parental consent or even an outright abortion ban. The more affluent and secure will always be able to get abortions when they want. And any ban will simply force many women who want to terminate their pregnancies to get illegal and unsafe operations, as happened before 1973. "A ban would only make abortion a humiliating and sordid experience," points out Dr. Warren Hern, director of a Boulder,

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