Abortion refers to the physical act of purging, either by choice or accident, of a human fetus from a woman's womb. Abortion is a highly explosive subject, as it touches on two of the fundamental tenets of modern civilization; an individual's right to live and an individual's right to decide, or free will.
It represents a volatile mixture of morality, ethics, enlightened jurisprudence, individual rights, personal choice and religion.
FAST FACTS ON ABORTION
♦ The Center For Disease Control (CDC, Department of Health) is the federal overseeing body for abortions.
♦ An estimated 1.3 million abortions are performed annually (or approximately two and a half abortions every minute).
♦ 65% of abortions in the country are performed on unwed women.
♦ One fifth (19.3 percent) of all pregnancies ends with induced abortions.
The conflict over abortion is divided into two camps; the pro-life and the pro-choice.
Pro-life supporters essentially reject the idea of abortion based on religious, moral and ethical grounds. They seek to overturn the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, which they blame for the approximately 53 million cases of abortions since.
The ruling is seen by many pro-life advocates as extra-constitutional, and is a classic display of judicial activism that ignores the spirit of the law and the rights of an unborn child.
Pro-choice proponents meanwhile are unequivocally against the idea of any government involvement or influence in what they consider as ultimately, a woman's choice to make. They reject attempts to narrow down the issue to a single factor, ignoring the numerous extenuating circumstances surrounding the issue.
The rights of the unborn
The rights of the mother
Federal ban on abortions
The 30-year debate witnessed a renewed interest in 2010 following allegations by Republicans and pro-life groups that President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act will open the floodgates for indirect government funding of abortions. A bi-partisan "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (H.R. 3), legislation was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois) in the House of Representative in May 2011. The bill sought to permanently prevent federal funds from being used for abortions or on any related expenditures or insurance coverage. The bill passed the House on May 4, 2011, but it has not been tabled in the Senate following strong opposition over the text used to describe the act of rape.
Adoption, the third alternative, is mainly espoused by pro-life advocates, who argue of its more humane approach in dealing with the subject of unwanted babies. Pro-choice supporters, while not rejecting the idea outright, contends that adoption causes the same, if not higher, level of emotional trauma to mothers. There is also the question of economic pressures faced by expectant mothers, raising the specter of legalized human trafficking. In addition, the national adoption rate, while comparatively higher than most developed countries, are still extremely low, averaging at about 3% of live births annually.
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 / 1973) is a historic and still controversial ruling made by the United States Supreme Court on January 22, 1973. In its judgment, the Court ruled that a woman, based on the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment, has the legitimate right to abort her pregnancy. In addition, the Court also ruled that a human fetus only possesses the potential for life, and thus, cannot be considered as an individual, and consequently, denies it any constitutional rights.
The case was initially filed in Texas by one Norma McCorvey against the DA of Dallas County, Texas, Henry B. Wade, in March 1970. The Texan Court ruled in favor of the defendants and declared abortion illegal, a decision that was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court less than three years later.
Parental notification law requires underage mothers to seek the consent of their parents or guardians for any abortion-related procedures. Proponents argue that this ensures the involvement of an adult in the decision-making process. Critics, however, feel that the presence of trained medical personnel negates the argument and believes that such measures merely alienate and frequently cause additional mental distress to minors. It may even deter minors from approaching accredited facilities. Parental notification law is currently in force in 41 states in the country.
Parental consent law takes the process of notification a step further by requiring the permission of parents or guardians to be obtained prior to any abortion-related procedures. Currently, 23 states require parental consent for any procedures involving minors.
Spousal Consent (A Father’s Right)
The question of whether a biological father has the right to share in the decision making process appeared to be settled in the aftermath of the 1992 case between the Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (505 U.S. 833). The Supreme Court found in the favor of the plaintiffs and ruled that the five provisions of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, one of which was the spousal consent clause, were unconstitutional.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is one of the nation's biggest health care providers for reproductive issues, with over 800 affiliated health centers spread over fifty states and the District of Columbia. It receives federal funding under the Federal Family Planning program. Planned Parenthood also happens to be the biggest health service provider for assisted abortions in the United States, accounting for approximately a quarter of all abortions annually.
For the past three decades, pro-life activists and Republican legislators have attempted to defund the organization, as they believe that federal funding provides Planned Parenthood with the freedom to focus their internal resources to assisted-abortion services.
Supporters of Planned Parenthood point out that the organization plays a crucial role in the country's sexual and reproductive health care services as 76% of their clients are living under the poverty level. Moreover, Planned Parenthood's education programs and contraceptive services prevent unintended pregnancies for at least half a million American women annually.
Embryonic stem cell research
Embryonic stem cells are cells derived from pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ES) originating from human blastocysts found in adult bone marrows, human embryos and umbilical cords. Scientists hope to eventually harness the technology for use in human transplantation therapy involving the nervous system, organs and appendages.
However, bone marrow stem cell extraction carries a high probability of permanent ancillary and second level damage, besides being of lower stem cell content. There are fears that the pharmaceutical industry, opportunists and middle men would leverage the current standoff in the debate over abortion to their advantage in the form of a rich and cheap source of stem cells from aborted fetuses.
Federal funding ban on abortions “Abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan except in the cases
of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.”
President Obama’s statement on the H.R. 3 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act on 14 July
2010, which codifies the Hyde-Weldon conscience clause by prohibiting federal funding for elective
abortions and federal subsidies previously allowed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Supportive “I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies,
initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and
mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.”
President Obama's statement marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, 23 January 2011
Roe v. Wade
“As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court
decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader
principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to
protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right. While this is a
sensitive and often divisive issue—no matter what our views, we must stay united in our
determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need
for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. And as we remember this
historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same
rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”
January 22, 2012: President Obama’s statement issued on the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade
“Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects
women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government
should not intrude on private family matters. I am committed to protecting this constitutional
right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended
pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote
President Obama's statement marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, 23 January 2011
Disagree “As a parent, Obama believes that young women, if they become pregnant, should talk to their
parents before considering an abortion. But he realizes not all girls can turn to their mother or
father in times of trouble, and in those instances, we should want these girls to seek the advice of
Responding to a questionnaire from RH Reality Check (October 2007)
Planned Parenthood “Thanks to all of you at Planned Parenthood for all the work that you are doing for women all
across the country and for families all across the country”
The then Senator Obama speaking before a Planned Parenthood Action Fund event in Washington on July
Embryonic stem cell research
President Obama signed the Executive Order 13505 Removing Barriers To Responsible Scientific
Research involving Human Stem Cells on March 9, 2009
Excerps: "... By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United
States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. Research involving human embryonic stem cells and human non-embryonic stem
cells has the potential to lead to better understanding and treatment of many disabling diseases and
conditions. Advances over the past decade in this promising scientific field have been encouraging,
leading to broad agreement in the scientific community that the research should be supported by
For the past 8 years, the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), to fund and conduct human embryonic stem cell research has been
limited by Presidential actions. The purpose of this order is to remove these limitations on
scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so
doing to enhance the contribution of America's scientists to important new discoveries and new
therapies for the benefit of humankind.
Sec. 2. Research. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary), through the Director of
NIH, may support and conduct responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell research, including
human embryonic stem cell research, to the extent permitted by law."
Terry, a veteran leader of the American anti-abortion movement,has unsurprisingly made the topic as
the central theme of his campaign.
In a press release on January 18, 2011, Terry announced
“My constituency is the millions of pro-life advocates who want to make child killing illegal
from conception until birth. My base is those who know that we must show Americans the victims of
abortion, in order to restore the full protection of law to unborn babies.
America has never truly debated child killing, because America has never truly seen child killing.
We will use FEC and FCC laws for federal candidates to bring America face to face with this massacre
of the innocents.
The goal of my campaign is:
(i) To create a crisis of conscience for Americans regarding the slaughter of the unborn and thereby
hasten the end of legalized child killing;
(ii) To pound on President Obama's agenda starting with child killing, but also including our battle
against socialism, our enslavement to debt, and more.
Will I defeat Mr. Obama? I'm not delusional. But while I may not defeat him, I can expose the
genocide Obama promotes in America and around the world. Our help is in the Name of the
October 24, 2008; A video message to U.S. Catholic Bishops before the 2008 presidential election.
I am begging you, in the name of the Lord, in the name of our Lady of Guadalupe, and in the name
of the millions of children whose lives hang in the balance with this election, I’m begging you to
lift up your voice in defence of life, in the final days of this election.
Right now, millions of Catholics, in fact more than half of the Catholics being polled are planning
to vote for Barack Obama. How can this be? The conscience of the faithful has to be formed by the
laws of God and the teachings of the Church. My plea with you is to quote John Paul II. John Paul II
gave us the marching orders in Evangelium Vitae, The Gospel of Life. In fact, in 1998, when his
Holiness spoke to American Bishops, he specifically told them that they have to be involved in
legislative and political projects which would restore the protection of law to the unborn. He
couldn’t have been clearer that a part of the duty of the Bishop is to be involved in the
legislative and the political process.”