Abortion is never an easy decision, but women have been making that choice for thousands of years, for many good reasons. Whenever a society has sought to outlaw abortions, it has only driven them into back alleys where they became dangerous, expensive, and humiliating. Amazingly, this was the case in the United States until 1973, when abortion was legalized nationwide. Thousands of American women died.
Thousands more were maimed. For this reason and others, women and men fought for and achieved women's legal right to make their own decisions about abortion.
1. Laws against abortion kill women.
To prohibit abortions does not stop them. When women feel it is absolutely necessary, they will choose to have abortions, even in secret, without medical care, in dangerous circumstances. In the two decades before abortion was legal in the U.S., it's been estimated that nearly a million women per year sought out illegal abortions.
Thousands died. Tens of thousands were mutilated. All were forced to behave as if they were criminals.
2. Legal abortions protect women's health.
Legal abortion not only protects women's lives, it also protects their health. For tens of thousands of women with heart disease, kidney disease, severe hypertension, sickle-cell anemia and severe diabetes, and other illnesses that can be life-threatening, the availability of legal abortion has helped avert serious medical complications that could have resulted from childbirth. Before legal abortion, such women's choices were limited to dangerous illegal abortion or dangerous childbirth.
3. A woman is more than a fetus.
There's an argument these days that a fetus is a "person" that is "indistinguishable from the rest of us" and that it deserves rights equal to women's. On this question there is a tremendous spectrum of religious, philosophical, scientific, and medical opinion. It's been argued for centuries. Fortunately, our...