Because I said so: the problem with abortion debates

graphic by Taylor '17

graphic by Taylor ’17

At Marlborough, we are quick to villainize people who are pro-life. We think that they must have a vendetta against women and that they are trying to control women’s bodies. But what we don’t always consider is why they are against abortions.
It’s not so much that “pro-lifers” think that women shouldn’t have reproductive rights. Of course, those people do exist, but there probably are not as many of them in politics as we think. It’s more that people are against abortion from a moral standpoint. They see abortion as murder; and how could anyone legalize murder?
What we see happening is one side treating abortion as a women’s rights issue and the other treating it as a moral issue. Even the names for the two sides aren’t compatible. Pro-life versus pro-choice. They don’t make sense; life and choice aren’t words that seem like they would be on the same platform. The sides see each other as pro-choice versus pro-not letting women choose and pro-life versus pro-murder. Abortion debates are barely comprehensible because the sides aren’t supporting or refuting the same idea. Things get even more complicated when science comes in to argue whether or not life begins at conception. With one side arguing for God’s intentions and the other arguing for women’s rights, it hardly seems reasonable to leave it up to male
The debates get complicated by religion. Religious people who are pro-life often see abortion as immoral. Even presidential candidates, like Ted Cruz, bring religion into the debate. During a January rally in Iowa, Cruz stated, “Every human life is a precious gift from God and should be protected from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death.” The problem with bringing religion into abortion debates is the same problem with bringing religion into any debate in the U.S. The separation of church and state means that we can’t allow religious beliefs to sway our lawmaking.
The inconsistencies in this debate are important for us, as Marlborough students, to understand because the outcome of abortion debates affects women more than anyone else.
The fact of the matter is that there are women who will have abortions regardless of its legal status; outlawing abortions just puts these women at risk of having life threatening complications from botched back-alley procedures. Birth control seems like a way to “choose” not to have child, but not every woman has access to contraceptives. Additionally, women who have survived rape and become pregnant might wish to terminate their pregnancy after the window for emergency contraceptives has passed.
It begs the question of why men are even a part of the debate if it is indeed a women’s rights issue. It’s hard to argue it not being a women’s rights issue, but if abortion were to really become illegal, birth control would have to become free for women everywhere and rape would have to cease to exist. Obviously, and unfortunately, these don’t seem like they’ll happen any time soon, so to keep women safe, abortion really needs to stay legal.