Abortion a Moral Choice or Legislative Decision
Should it be a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion? Who ought to decide if abortions should be legal-congress, state legislature, the woman, her husband, or some religious leader? (Milbauer3). The issue of abortion has been a constant struggle since ancient times. Abortion is not a contemporary issue. Historically both tribal and civilized societies have used a variety of methods to put an end to unwanted pregnancy (Suzumski 13). Throughout the years abortion has become a very controversial subject. Abortion is a moral dilemma addressed in many court cases; yet moral decisions, such as abortion, may be debated in a court of law, but in these cases the arguments are often moved from legal questions to questions of morality and religious/ethnic beliefs (Milbauer 3). Law has opened many doors for abortion. It has been debated that abortion should be recognized by law and that it is a woman’s constitutional right.
The practice of abortion, the termination of pregnancy, before the fetus is capable of independent life, was widespread in ancient times (Judges 84). Therefore the issue of abortion is nothing new to our society and has been debated many ways. American policy towards abortion has gone through several stages. In the early 1800’s abortion was considered no crime by common law as clarified in the Supreme Court of Massachusetts’ case; Commonwealth vs. Parker (Judges 98). But then in the late 1800’s the formation of the AMA and anti-abortion leadership of Horatio Storer began to shape public opinion and produce stronger more effective legislation (105). Many states thus prohibited abortion anytime throughout the pregnancy during the 19th century. Although occasionally the exception was made if the mothers health was in jeopardy.
Legislative action in the 20th century was aimed at allowing the termination of unwanted pregnancies. Many powerful anti-abortion groups have lost interest in the issue causing social forces to begin pushing toward liberalization of abortion laws (106). These forces produced legislative responses in a few states but in most states outlawed abortions, and only permitted them if it was necessary top preserve material health. In 1973 however, the path of American abortion policy was drastically changed by the supreme courts decision of Roe vs. Wade (109). This case established that it was a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. Many countries around the world were also granting the right for a woman to request an abortion.
Then perspectives changed again in the 1980’s and abortion was permitted only if it was to protect a mother’s health, or a pregnancy as the result of forced rape or incest, to avoid congenital or genetic defects, or an account of social problems, such as an unmarried mother or one with inadequate income to support a child. The U.S. followed this world trend and by 1985 state legislatures enacted 18 new abortion laws. Currently 30 states limit abortion fundings, to cases were the woman’s life is threatened. Even today abortion is a hot topic. In 1996, several tough anti-abortion laws were weakened. A 1991 Utah law banning abortions, except in cases where the mother was in danger, when the child would be born with serious defects, or as the result of a forced rape or incest was ruled unconstitutional in 1996 on grounds that it violated a woman’s right to choose. Likewise a Mississippi law, one of the toughest in the country, was currently weakened.
Evidence shows that abortions are on the decline in the U.S.. A woman’s right to obtain an abortion is still a relative issue. Views on abortion have affected many campaigns and legislative concerns. Such as in the 1996 presidential campaign, when opposing views on abortion were debated. In conclusion abortion is quite controversial and historical struggle that can not seem to be settled enough to satisfy either side.