The Injustices of Abortion Bans

Published 10 months ago -

By Quinn Ryan, Staff Writer

We are living in the middle of perhaps one of the biggest civil rights violations in my
lifetime. There has been a law passed in Oklahoma that is essentially a blanket ban on abortions.
There has been sweeping pro-life sentiment building in many states, which led to Texas’ 2021
ban of abortions past the detection of fetal heart activity at around six weeks. Up to that point, it
was the most strict law on the books regarding abortions, but Oklahoma took it a step further. To
me, and to countless others around the country and around the world, this is a massive violation
to the rights of women. Obviously, abortion is one of the most devicive issues in the country, so
this is not a concept that I can just boil down in a short article, but I am going to do my best to
show why the passing of this law is a massive injustice. The following is a collection of common
pro-life arguments, as well as my rebuttals to each. I try to either point out inconsistencies in the
logic used, or try to reveal what is actually being valued in each statement as a way to attempt to
dispel these sentiments.

“Life begins at conception.”
Although a unique set of genetic sequencing is created at conception, the issue of ‘life’ is
one that cannot be answered in a laboratory. When you say ‘life,’ what you mean is a human life,
as we all agree that all ‘life’ is not worthy of governmental protection (i.e. cows, bugs, trees,
etc.) So, in order to successfully establish that zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are worthy of
protection under the law, you would first need definitive proof that they are human beings, which
is impossible to do scientifically. By claiming that life begins at conception, you are
presupposing your personal definition of human life which is by definition subjective.

“Abortion is murder.”
Well, like previously stated, it would only be murder if it was decided that the thing that
was being aborted was in fact a human being. However, since that is not a question with a
definitive answer, you cannot state that what is taking place is murder. The beauty of the
pro-choice position is that if you feel like you would be murdering your unborn child, you do not
need to terminate your pregnancy. However, if you believe that the thing that is inside of your
uterus has yet to reach the benchmark for human-hood, you are allowed to terminate. Nobody is
boxed into acting in a way that is disanalogous with their personal beliefs about humanity. Also,
this viewpoint is a lot more messy than most people like to admit. It is easy to draw a box around
women who have abortions and yell at them all and call them murders. However, if you truly
believe that the termination of a pregnancy is the same as a loss of human life, then that would
mean that every woman who miscarries is losing a child. And if this is the case, then every
woman who miscarries should at the very least be investigated by the authorities to see if their
actions could have resulted in the miscarriage. If a parent has a child die suddenly, then there are
lengthy investigations into what happened by the police and DCF, and the parents could be held
legally responsible and sent to jail. That means that if a woman exposes herself to any harmful
materials, drinks any alcohol, contracts an STI or STD, or does any of the things that have been
shown to increase risk of miscarriage, even if she does not know that she is pregnant, then she
should be imprisoned for killing her child. To me, that seems like a nightmarish authoritarian
world where women are essentially factories for babies. Not to mention that up to 20 percent of
all pregnancies end in miscarriage, often times before the woman even knows that she is
pregnant. If the termination of a pregnancy is really loss of life, how come we don’t see these
people protesting outside of abortion clinics protesting at liquor stores, gas stations, outside the
homes of all women who could be pregnant, and other places trying to protect the pregnancy?

“Abortion is only acceptable when the woman’s life is in danger.”
First and foremost, this is too broad of a threshold to feasibly defend. What defines a risk
to the woman’s life? Does the woman need to be actively dying before any action is taken to
abort the fetus? Is it enough to have an increased likelihood of health complications due to
pregnancy? If the former, you are opening a serious can of worms about what qualifies as ‘self
defense’ and what actions can and cannot be taken by someone who has not yet been physically
harmed but is in a life threatening situation. If the latter, then the situation gets even messier!
What is an acceptable risk to the woman’s life that would allow for a termination? Also, is the
only thing that we care about as a society if the pregnant woman is alive after the pregnancy?
What about the fact that close to a thousand women each year die from childbirth in the US
alone, is it enough to say the risk of death in all cases is sufficient to qualify for an abortion?
Also, there are other serious health risks that do not result in death, would it be permissible to
terminate because of one of those? What about the fact that one in ten women experience major
depressive episodes due to postpartum depression, which makes suicidal thoughts and actions
far more likely to occur? Is that fact evidence of a substantial enough risk to the woman that
would grant her access to an abortion? The problem with setting this vague bar for when
abortion is acceptable is that it values some risks while devaluing others. I have seen no evidence
of a comprehensive guide to which health risks would and would not meet the criteria for
obtaining an abortion, and this is because the risks associated with pregnancy are countless. The
fact of the matter is that all pregnancies are difficult, taxing,and ultimately dangerous, so if the
bar is simply risk to the woman’s life, then all women should be allowed to receive abortions if
they want one!

“It is a sin to have an abortion.”
It is no secret that a large driver of pro-life sentiments come from religious communities.
However, since we do not live in a theocracy, one’s religious beliefs are not sufficient to argue
that the entirety of society needs to act in accordance with one’s doctrine. The role that the
government should play in the lives of its citizens does not have an easy answer. However, we do
have separation from Church and State in this country. I feel that this concept is often
misunderstood or misrepresented on both sides of the political aisle, but this separation basically
means that the government is not allowed to advocate for or make laws prohibiting against
religion. That is not to say that certain politicians cannot advocate for their religious beliefs to
be codified into law, so long as they do not violate the conditions mentioned previously. For
instance, a politician could not try to pass a law that required all citizens to go to Church on
Sunday, because that would be advocating for one particular religion. However, a politician
could try to pass a law that would prohibit alcohol (which has happened and worked out super
well) which would be in accordance with their religious doctrine. Now, I could get into my
personal philosophy on how I believe the government should function in our society, but this
article is not about that. It seems to me that an outright ban of abortion goes a step further than
trying to codify into law certain religious beliefs, and in fact is in violation of the separation that
we strive to have. This would be an advocacy for religious beliefs that life begins at conception,
and would force women to undertake a lengthy and grueling process for an ideal that they may
or may nor agree with.

“Banning abortions will decrease the number of abortions that take place.”
From what I can tell, this is an accurate statement. Making anything illegal will always
reduce the instances of that thing taking place. If the government passed a law tomorrow that
made it illegal to ride horses, then by the next day the rates of cowboys and horse racers would
steeply decline. However, you would never eliminate horse riding completely. In the same way,
there will never be a time where there are no abortions taking place, women have been aborting
pregnancies since way before we had the medical technology that made abortions much safer
and efficient. The difference between horse riding and getting an abortion is that the health risks
associated with getting an abortion can be severe and common in the wrong settings. By banning
abortions, sure some percentage of women who would have had abortions won’t get them, but
countless women will still have them, and they will be doing so in less safe manners. If we truly
care about the health and safety of women, then providing access to safe abortions is the best
way to ensure that they are not risking their lives to terminate a pregnancy that they do not want.

“Why do you care if Oklahoma bans abortions? You don’t even live there.
This is a two part answer. Firstly, I believe a great injustice is taking place that is
stripping away the rights of millions of women. It doesn’t matter what part of the world this is
taking place, I still believe that women should have the right to choose whether or not to have an
abortion. Secondly, it has become evident that the surge of states looking to limit abortion rights
is on the rise. We saw Texas pass one of the strictest abortion laws in the country no longer than
a year ago. Since then, 6 or more states, including Oklahoma, have stated that they were going
to follow Texas’ lead and pass similar measures. Moreover, there are currently 13 states with
trigger laws that would ban abortions if the Roe v. Wade was overturned. It is important to
express discontent, and for people all over the country to protest and petition in order to stop the
spread of these types of laws.

So, what can be done? Although Oklahoma has already passed these measures, and other
states are attempting to, no laws are set in stone. Protests and petitions have proven to be
effective in the past at showing government officials that there is outrage over the passage of
laws. Moreover, you can send a letter of discontent to Capitol Building 2300 Lincoln Blvd., Rm.
212 Oklahoma City, OK, 73105 or call the Governor’s line at (405) 521-2342 to express your
anger. Similar contact information for the governor and legislatures is available online for each
state. The only way for things to change is for passionate people to take action and to show
government officials that their aggression on womens’ rights will not stand. I urge you to take
action, talk to friends and family about what is happening, and to stay informed on what is taking
place to be better equipped to combat it. Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it best when she said, “The
decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well being and dignity.
It’s a decision she must make for herself.”

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