A Woman’s View: pro-life vs. pro-choice

By Donna Ward

Please note: The women who gave comments and stated personal opinions in this article in no way had the intention of attacking or influencing any individuals’ decisions. (Some names have been altered for privacy.) This article was intended to give an objective view and does not reflect the views of NEastPhilly.com or any of its contributors.

An age-old question: Are you pro–choice or pro-life? A very tough, ominous question that creates vast controversy, and generates many different opinions brought forward with passion.

On a poll taken of NEast women about the sensitive subject, 13 out of 20 said they felt pro-life was the correct option for them. Of the 13 women, nine said they felt each woman had the right to decide for herself which direction she should take depending on her unique situation. “I would never have an abortion myself, but I don’t feel right about telling another woman she can’t,” Dianne Mellace of the NEast said. “I think there are situations were it is for the best, and I also think it is abused. It depends on the situation, but you can’t tell a person to change their whole life because of your opinion.”

Since the 1973 court ruling in Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States, the U.S. has seen an increase in legal abortions and new techniques in which they are performed. Today, 20 million to 30 million legal abortions are performed worldwide each year.

“I can understand why you would want to have an abortion because of rape or incest, but just because you were careless one night is no excuse.” said an anonymous NEast shopper. “There is no reason to terminate a little baby’s right to life because you made a mistake.”

Many controversies arise for people, with various views on when and at which point in time the fertilized egg is considered a baby. Many religions are very adamant about the fact that at the moment of conception the fetus is considered a baby. Other people argue that it isn’t more than tissue mass until after a given point in time.

“I think after the first month you have yourself a baby. I see nothing wrong with the morning after pill. Even women who have been raped or are in fear of their life having an abortion have a good reason,” said NEast resident Joelle Ozalas. “I don’t think it is right to have an abortion after the first month, because then you have a baby.  “For me, I would only have an abortion if it were because of something really bad that had happened.”

Other women feel the fetus is not a baby until their is a heartbeat. You can first hear a baby’s heartbeat around three months, but the heart begins to develop around four to six weeks along with the brain and spinal cord.

“I think you are safe to terminate an embryo before the third month, but definitely not after,” said a NEast waitress. “I hate to say it, but I would have an abortion right now because, at this stage of my life, I would not be able to care for it correctly. “I would be very sad, however, at the loss. It just wouldn’t be right to bring up an unwanted kid — especially now.”

The psychological effects for a woman terminating a pregnancy can be similar to that of a miscarriage. Some women become very depressed and disheartened, while others appear less jaded and are able to recover in their necessary time.

“I was relieved when I had mine,” Mary Hartslink said. “I had too much going on in my life, and was just out of college. It would have destroyed my life and made me resent the child. I still think about it from time to time, but I know I made the right decision at the time, and I did it before my second month with a pill, which had some rough after effects.”

In recent years, a less invasive way to terminate pregnancy came about with pills commonly known as Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Advised for use during the first three months of pregnancy, these pills can terminate a pregnancy with similar effects of a miscarriage. Many women are finding this means of abortion more suitable, because the pill is less invasive, can taken at home and is not as traumatic as surgical outpatient or inpatient procedures.

As with any medicine, there are side effects and complications, which require a consultation with a specialized physician before ingestion. Side effects may differ from woman to woman, but some, including failure to terminate the fetus and infection, need to be recognized early on, and though they are rare, a visit with your doctor is advised after the procedure.

While women ultimately determine the outcome of their choice, the question has been raised whether the father of the child has any say in the process.

“I think the man should be consulted, but the decision comes down to the female’s choice in the end. After all she will be the one carrying the kid for nine months, and it’s her body that will be put through changes,” Ozalas said.

Eleven out of 20 women interviewed said the man should be consulted first before a final decision is made.

“True that it is half the man’s child, but ultimately, I think it is the female’s choice. The man can state his opinion, but should support her decision no matter what,” Mellace said. All 20 women said that the man should support the woman no matter what her decision.

From the legal side, abortions performed in a safe clinic have a much better outcome for the health and well being of the female than illegal establishments set up against regulations. Abortions were performed long before the 1900s and were even considered a legitimate form of birth control in many regions. Religious beliefs and family values can influence a woman’s choices, and can also affect her emotions, regardless of her choice. Support should always be given along with correct information about all options before a decision, especially in desperation, is made.

Over the course of the 21st century, abortion has been the spotlight for many political and religious figures, some of whom are avid supports of a woman’s right to choose and other more conservative officials who feel pro-life should prevail.

Since the decision in 1973 to legalize abortion, there have been many pro-life activists who strongly petition to overturn the ruling. Each woman is different and her view is based on personal opinion. Send us your opinions and comments on this sensitive subject.

A Woman’s View is a column about women’s issues written by Donna Ward. The column appears every other Thursday on NEastPhilly.com. See others here.

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