Abortion remains one of the most controversial and highly debated issues in the modern society. Notably, laws regulating abortion are enacted by the Congress or state legislatures, and disputes arise when a statute is challenged because of violating individual constitutional rights. One such ruling was the famous Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe versus Wade in 1973. The ruling upheld that a woman has a right to choose concerning aborting a pregnancy (Parashar & Dominello, 2017). Before the Roe v. Wade case, abortion was illegal. Consequently, although there have been subsequent amendments limiting the woman’s rights to when the fetus is viable the debate continues. In fact, Americans remain largely divided in their support for the rights of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy. Ultimately, the question remains, does a woman has the right to choose concerning aborting a pregnancy. Regarding this issue, in this paper, we support that a woman has a right to choose to abort a pregnancy and provide supporting arguments to support.
When the court made the ruling on the Roe v. Wade case in 1973, it upheld a woman’s right to an abortion as an implicit right to privacy protected by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Today, the human rights bodies provide clear guidelines on when there is a need to make abortion legal and emphasized access to safe abortion as a human right. Human rights organizations view laws criminalizing abortion as a barrier and discriminatory towards women access to healthcare (Dunn, Lesyna, & Zaret, 2017). These bodies have approached various states that strictly restrict abortion to remove some of these provisions and allow women access to safe and legal abortion. Women have a right to life and forcing a woman to go through a life-threatening abortion threatens her right to life. Besides, the right to health removes all barriers interfering with health including sexual and reproductive health (OCHR & WHO, n.d). Consequently, in cases of sexual assault such as incest or rape, continued pregnancy may endanger the mental and physical health of a woman and even threaten the life of the fetus. In such a case, giving women the right to choose about aborting a pregnancy allows them control over their health and body.
Gender equality is a fundamental principle of the human rights law. In order for individuals, and, in this case, women to enjoy protected human rights, freedom from discrimination is necessary. According to the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women convention, discrimination encompasses any law that restricts or affects a woman from enjoying or exercising her protected human rights (Center for Reproductive Rights, 2011). Denying women access to safe abortion is a form of gender discrimination because it affects a woman’s protected human rights based on equality. Virtually, upholding the decision to terminate a pregnancy as a woman right allows the woman the access to a procedure that can enhance their equal enjoyment to equal rights. On the other hand, denying women the right to abortion means that women must suffer the consequences of unwanted pregnancy such as obstructed labor and hemorrhage among other maternity-related injuries. Additionally, making abortion a woman’s right upholds her status in the society as someone with the capacity to make responsible decisions about their bodies and lives.
Human rights provide women with the basis to make decisions about their bodies. As elaborated by the Center for Reproductive Rights (2011), it allows women the freedom to decide about private matters such as the right to decide the number of children and spacing. Pregnancy can affect a woman’s physical or emotional well-being. Similarly, although a woman can seek advice from others concerning her pregnancy, the decision solely lies with her. Additionally, by granting a woman the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, it gives them the right to be free from inhuman, degrading, and cruel treatment. Virtually, according to the Human Rights Committee, cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment does not only involve acts that exert physical pain, but also mental suffering, which is often upheld with the denial of access to legal and safe abortion. Restrictive abortion laws deny women the right to be free from cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment. On the other hand, by giving women the right to decide about terminating their pregnancy, it protects them from carrying unwanted pregnancies. It also protects them from risking their lives with illegal abortions that put their lives in dangers and expose them to degrading and inhuman treatment.
The scientific and medical community has made advances in technologies and has made it possible for women to access a full range of technologies for safe abortion (Center for Reproductive Rights, 2011). The scientific progress has enabled women access to numerous safe, effective, and low-cost health interventions. By giving women the right to choose about aborting a pregnancy, it legalizes abortion and ensures that women can participate and enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.
Arguments concerning abortion have been continuing for decades despite the ruling between Roe v. Wade in 1973. In this paper, we supported the motion that a woman has the right to choose concerning aborting a pregnancy. Regarding this argument, we highlighted various arguments in favor of abortion such as women have a moral right to decide about their body, the right to abortion and its critical contribution to gender equality. Granting women the right to choose about terminating their pregnancy also frees them from cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment.
Center for Reproductive Rights. (2011). Safe and Legal Abortion is a Woman’s Human Right. Retrieved from https://www.reproductiverights.org/sites/crr.civicactions.net/files/documents/Safe%20and%20Legal%20Abortion%20is%20a%20Womans%20Human%20Right.pdf
Dunn, J. T., Lesyna, K., & Zaret, A. (2017). The role of human rights litigation in improving access to reproductive health care and achieving reductions in maternal mortality. Bmc Pregnancy and Childbirth, 17(367), 71-83.
OCHR & WHO. (n.d). The right to health: fact sheet 31. Office of the United States High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Factsheet31.pdfParashar, A., & Dominello, F. (2017). The family in law. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
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