With the recent anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States, and the current global protests regarding the issue of abortion (such as in Argentina and Poland), we found it important to discuss this topic and address some of the reasons why people believe either the pro-choice or pro-life argument. Rather than take a stance on either side of the argument, we are here to analyze reasons why certain people have certain beliefs, as it is greatly related to socioeconomic status, race, religion, etc.
Here are some of the arguments in favor of abortion (BBC):
women have a right to decide what to do with their bodies
the right to abortion is vital for gender equality
the right to abortion is vital for individual women to achieve their full potential
banning abortion puts women at risk by forcing them to use illegal abortionists
According to a Gallup News Poll, out of 132 18-29 year olds interviewed, 61% agreed with the pro-choice argument, which was a quite noticeable difference compared to interviewees aged 30+; we are seeing the younger generation shifting more toward the pro-choice beliefs. One young person, Aniela Singh, a 2nd Year Chemistry student at Ryerson University, wanted to share her pro-choice beliefs with us for this article, “There have been way too many occasions where women of several ages have been victims of sexual assault where such actions have gone against their consent. For the purpose of this answer to this specific question, I’ll be focusing more on young teenage girls and girls in their youth. Even though some people may not hear about these cases in regards to young girls being sexually assaulted on what could be a regular basis, unfortunately, or aren’t educated on what goes on in other countries, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Society cannot expect a young girl to bare a child at such a young age, against her will when she wanted no part in that lifestyle that was forced on her. And I’ve heard people say ‘well she doesn’t have to raise the child, putting the baby up for adoption is always a choice.’ It’s not a matter of raising a child, but it’s also a matter of carrying the child for 9 months unwillingly...”
There’s also significant health disparities seen in abortion rates. “In 2008, the abortion rate for non-Hispanic White women was 12 abortions per 1000 reproductive-age women, compared with 29 per 1000 for Hispanic women, and 40 per 1000 for non-Hispanic Black women. Disparities in abortion rates also exist by socioeconomic status, with women with incomes less than 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) having an abortion rate of 52 abortions per 1000 reproductive-age women, compared with a rate of 9 per 1000 among those with incomes greater than 200% FPL” (Dehlendorg et. al). This is because rates of unintended pregnancy are highest among Blacks, Hispanics, and women with lower SES.
Source: Guttmacher Institute
Pro-choice believers have used these health disparities as a reason to keep abortion legal, which is valid. But, it doesn’t do anything to address why minority communities suffer from higher unintended pregnancy rates. Facilitating better access to contraceptive services is key, so the pro-choice argument is also connected to better access to contraception especially in minority and low income communities.
The pro-life beliefs are essentially:
Abortion is morally wrong
Life begins at conception
Although the fetus grows within the woman’s fetus, it is still its own separate human life and terminating the pregnancy would be murder.
Pro-lifers tend to be religious people. According to the Gallup News poll, out of 269 people who attend religious services weekly, 71% are pro-life. When looking at why religion plays such a large role in a person’s abortion beliefs, it’s not that hard to understand.
Religious pro-lifers believe that the issue encompasses issues of life and death and morals, making it a major religious concern. “People involved in an abortion are usually affected very deeply not just emotionally, but often spiritually, as well. They often turn to their faith for advice and comfort, for explanation of their feelings, and to seek atonement and a way to deal with their feelings of guilt” (BBC). Because abortion can be such an emotional and moral experience because it involves life and death, many people find that the more “literal” pro-choice argument is wrong. For them, the abortion argument concerns more than just their conscience, but it concerns their relationship with their God.
As you can see, the argument over abortion and women's reproduction is greatly tied to social factors such as socioeconomic status, race, and religion, which is why it's so hard to come to any compromise on what's "right"or legal. No matter what you believe, hopefully this article was able to give you insight into why people believe the things they do so that you can understand where others are coming from. After all, understanding where others are coming from is the first step to having meaningful and respectful debate!