Their Body, Your Choice

Shane Shuma ’22, Opinion Columnist

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My first problem with the abortion process in the United States is that tax dollars are used indirectly to fund abortions. I am not against federal funding for Planned Parenthood regarding women’s health services and education programs, but I am against funding going towards abortion procedures. According to Chris Conover, a writer for Forbes, enough funding is given to fund 250,000 abortions a year, with most of that funding coming from the state level. The government does not actually fund 250,000 full abortions, but it subsidizes 24% of all abortion costs, with the funding equivalent to paying for 250,000 abortion procedures. I have no problem with individual states funding abortions, and I ultimately believe abortion to be a state issue. My issue is with the amount of federal funding for abortion, which is equivalent to the cost of 70,000 abortion procedures. As taxpayers we should have more direct say in what our money is used for, especially for a controversial issue like abortion, funding should be addressed at the state level.  

If you had to ask me whether I was pro-life or pro-choice, I would tell you that I am pro-freedom. While I do believe life is sacred and that abortion is something that should be much rarer in our society, I know that if the government banned abortions women would pursue different, more dangerous alternatives. What I do not agree with is the insistence that public money should help fund abortions and most of the reasoning used by pro-choice advocates to defend abortion. When I discuss abortion policy in this piece, I am referring to the vast majority of cases, (over 90% according to a Guttmacher Institute study), where the fetus was aborted not because of health issues, incest, or rape, but because the pregnancy was unplanned, and the mother was unprepared to have a baby.

Most abortions occur during an unplanned pregnancy, primarily those among single women. Birth control and the modern condom have led to a large reduction in unplanned pregnancies; however, abortion is still often used as a last resort and many people who understand the risks of unprotected sex still engage in it anyway. There should be no excuse in a developed country like the United States why elective abortions are still very common. Birth control methods are cheap and easily accessible and the birth control method with a 100% success rate, abstinence, is free. If you cannot afford to take care of a child, pay an average of less than $1 day for birth control, or buy condoms, then you most likely should not be engaging in sexual activities that could lead to reproduction. For those who still claim birth control is too expensive, a first trimester abortion costs an average of $397 and an average of $854 for a second trimester abortion. Even with state and federal assistance the women having these procedures are fronting most of the bill.

Another common defense of abortion I hear is that if the child will be born into unfortunate circumstances, it is better that the child is not born. Most people who are not as privileged as many of us are have lived hard and tragic lives, does that make their lives have any less value? Should a child not have the opportunity to rise above their challenges, to laugh and love, and be free? Isn’t it better to have lived and lost than to never have lived at all? I understand that there is much debate about when life begins and what constitutes a life, but can we at least try to be more careful so we won’t have to have public debates on whether a fetus should or should not be aborted depending on the circumstance? It is unfortunate I must make an emotional appeal, but this issue strikes very close to home for me. My older sister adopted three children, each one coming from troubled backgrounds. My little niece was abandoned at home while her parents were doing drugs and she was left to scavenge for food as an infant. She now lives with my sister, and she is a part of a large and loving family and has even gone to Disney World. Should she have been aborted to spare her a hard life?

The purpose of this piece is not to ask for abortions to be banned or to require women to carry pregnancies they do not want, I simply want people to understand that abortion is a serious thing. Be careful and safe and you will most likely never need to have an abortion done. My moral and emotional appeals are not to make women out to be evil, but to show that an advanced society such as ours should strive to make abortions rarer. While I believe the federal government should stay out of most abortion policy, states should have the right to determine for themselves what they believe is right. Ultimately, I think abortions should remain legal, but education programs and increased awareness are needed to reduce the cause and need for abortions. To quote Hillary Clinton, abortions should be “safe, legal and rare, and by rare, I mean rare.”