Abortion is a practice that dates back to the earliest recorded moments in history. The Chinese started doing it with toxic herbs some 4,700 years ago, and the 3,500-year-old Eber's Papyrus tells us that the Ancient Egyptians were no strangers to family planning. Even the Bible takes a pretty strong stance on the matter - in favor of it. People in Biblical times used to administer "bitter water" to a women suspected of infidelity, as described in Numbers 5:21-28.
However, abortion and religion have had a long, tortuous history together, culminating in 1989 when televangelist Pat Robertson made it a central issue of his run for the Republican presidential nomination. Since then, the premature termination of pregnancy has become a polarizing vote-grabber that has created extremists on both ends of the debate.
This list covers some of the strongest arguments presented by both "Pro-Life" and "Pro Choice" camps. As you read through this list and its companion, Every Compelling Argument for Why Pro-Choice Is Right, try to bear one thing in mind: EVERYONE is "Pro-Life." Everyone. The only real questions are: Which life, when does it begin, and who has the right to decide its fate?You won't find any simple solutions here...only hard questions, and even harder answers. Vote up the most compelling reasons for being pro-life below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.
Pro-Choice Doesn't Mean "Pro-Abortion"
This should go without saying, and you'd think it would - but the common view among Pro-Lifers is that people are out there getting abortions because they just LOVE doing it. They act like there's some evil abortion fan club out there, just hanging out in the back alley behind a Planned Parenthood, waiting to pounce on an innocent mother and terminate her pregnancy.Of course, that is patently absurd for most people. For the vast majority of women, the decision to get an abortion comes down to a matter of perceived necessity. You could argue all day over whether or not that decision was actually necessary, or just seemingly necessary - but it is necessity, not desire, that plays the pivotal role in the decision to keep or abort a fetus.
Adoption Isn't a Bottomless Option
Adoption is one of the go-to alternatives for anti-abortion advocates - and it is true that there's a waiting list a mile long for parents looking to adopt. But it's not nearly long enough to offset abortion. At present, there are a little more than a million abortions a year in the United States - and that's not counting Plan B "abortions." So, let's do the math.
Currently, there are about 250 million legal adults in the United States. Roughly 100 million are single, unmarried, and unlikely to adopt. About 15 percent of the remaining 150 million are senior citizens, and 44 percent of the remaining 135 million are below the poverty line. That leaves 75 million individuals, or about 37 million couples, who could even theoretically adopt. The average family in America already has three children. Once you start whittling down the factors, you find that fewer than a million couples in the U.S. are married, not poor, are under 50 years old, and have two children or fewer. That's a million theoretical, potential parents who might consider adoption.
In other words, there are not enough potential adoptive parents to cover a single year of abortions in the United States. In order to eliminate abortion in America with adoption alone, each and every viable couple in the U.S. would have to adopt at least one child a year, forever. Meaning, they'll have at least 18 kids living under their roof at any one time. And then they wouldn't be middle class anymore...they'd be dirt poor, and unable to support children.So, yes, adoption is a noble thing - but it's nowhere near sufficient to handle even the most conservative abortion figures.
Bans Are the Least Effective Solution
There are many ways to reduce the number of abortions - and literally ALL of them are more effective than banning abortion. Quite apart from being deadly, sociopathic, and controlling, abortion bans are simply far less effective than open sexual education and access to contraception. Educating young adults about safe sex is far more effective than simply sweeping naughty conversation under the rug, and pretending like people aren't going to have sex.It's no coincidence at all that teen pregnancy and abortion rates are highest in deeply conservative, deeply religious areas of the country. One of the primary causes of unwanted pregnancy, and, ultimately, abortion, is the fact that many conservative parts of the country choose to not educate young people about safe sex. They choose, instead, to deliver "abstinence-only" educations, which is a terrible idea. Telling a bunch of horny, puberty-driven teenagers that if they don't have sex at all, they won't have anything to worry about, is completely asinine. Like it or not, humans are sexual beings, and they will have sex whether you like it or not. The best way to lessen abortion practices is to educate those people on how to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies.
Responsibility and the Last Decision
In the grandest tradition of the truly self-righteous, Pro-Life radicals will often deride women for refusing to accept responsibility for their decisions. But that doesn't really hold up in a philosophical sense.
One of the tenets of justice is that nobody can be held responsible for chance events; for things outside of their control. We may judge someone for putting themselves in the position for something to go wrong, but no remotely just person could hold another accountable for something they took measures to prevent. Responsibility is about the consequences of decision; if you didn't decide to do something, you can't be held morally responsible for the outcome. Responsibility always comes down to who made the last decision, and the most likely known outcome of that decision.
Women who get raped clearly didn't make the decision to get raped. People who use birth control of some kind didn't make the decision for it to fail. Women who conceive a child with a man they expect will be there to help raise it (probably) didn't make the decision for them not to be. So, how can anyone be held morally responsible for unintended consequences which they took deliberate measures to prevent? If that's the track you're taking, you might as well just throw the concept of justice out the window.Again, argue all you want about the decisions that precipitated the situation - but the one who makes the last positive decision is the one ethically responsible for an outcome. And, here in the civilized world, we generally don't make a habit of holding people morally responsible for consequences they took measures to prevent.