Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life: Bodily Autonomy up for Debate?

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Abigail Felan

Women’s reproductive rights bear the brunt of a never-ending and highly politicized discussion. Pro-Choice and Pro-Life are the two main sides to this debate and struggle to find common ground.

The topic of women’s reproductive rights has always been a hot topic for both left and right-leaning politicians. Although strange to some, the topic of women’s reproductive rights is subject to such debate and politicization. Everyone wants to weigh in on what a pregnant woman’s options, or lack of options, are and should be. Either sides of the abortion debate have solidified their arguements however, it is up to each individual to decide where they align themselves the most based on the facts. To each their own, as the saying goes. Understandably, everyone feels entitled to share their opinion but, this becomes an issue when they begin telling people what to do. This is clearly wrong for the reasons of free will, human rights, and freedom of making one’s own decisions when it comes to their bodies.

I think that the government has no place dictating what people should do about such a personal decision. In my opinion, the government creating a ban on abortions would be government overreach. It would be too intrusive of a decision for the government to be in charge of”

— senior Irene Martinez

To begin, here is an explanation of what pro-choice means as such an negative connotation surrounds it for so many. Pro-choice encompasses a variety of opinions that all have one thing in common: a woman’s right to choose. For many people, pro-choice is pro-reproductive rights and allowing each individual pregnant woman decide what she wants to do in terms of her pregnancy. Simply put, pro-choice is a spectrum. Not everyone who says they are pro-choice will be marching for it, not everyone who is pro-choice would have an abortion themselves due to personal beliefs. Pro-choice means you are pro- women making their own decisions without government interference. Furthermore, this stance cannot be imposed on others because it does not affect anyone but a pregnant woman. And, in that case, to impose pro-choice ideals on her would just be allowing her to make a choice for or against having an abortion. To reiterate, pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion.

“I consider myself [to be] pro-choice for sure. I think that under any circumstances, it is always a woman’s choice to do what she wants with her body.” junior Isa Toledo said.

The pro-life stance is based in the belief of the sanctity of human life. Human lives are sacred and precious and that is undoubtedly true. This perspective is understandable but it is not sufficient to justify removing natural rights from pregnant women everywhere. However, if this pro-life stance is truly pro-life, would the lives of everyone be sacred? Pro-life groups have aligned themselves with the saying that life is sacred but have failed to speak out when people’s human rights are being violated and lives are being disregarded. As they continue to fight for unborn fetuses, shouldn’t they be at the forefront of Black Lives Matter protests and ensuring that immigrant children at the border are not trapped in cages after getting separated from their parents? These groups’ livelihoods are on the line. The argument that the unborn fetus has not been given a chance or needs to have someone advocating for them is somewhat understandable. But, it does not make sense why a total stranger is advocating for a pregnant woman’s fetus. For those who believe in it, the Bible says God created humans in His image and likeness; He also gave us free will. The most important question to ask pro-lifers is: if God trusts you to live your life, why can’t you trust other people to live theirs?

This debate between pro-life and pro-choice groups covenes around the topic of defunding Planned Parenthood which is a 501(c)(3) that offers reproductive healthcare and sex education to the U.S. population. Defunding Planned Parenthood would be detrimental to the people of the United States who lack proper healthcare. Unlike, what many think, these facilities across the United States offer more than just abortions to women; in fact, only 3% of their health sevices are abortions. This nonprofit does not only offer safe abortions but they provide birth control, STD testing, vaccines, screening for reproductive cancers, prenatal care and pregancy services, condoms, transgender health services and hormone replacement therapy. Moreover, criminalizing abortion would only make way for unsafe abortions. Legal abortions can be regulated and safe for the mother and fetus. Illegalizing abortion would create unsafe situations for mothers seeking abortions for various reasons. Maternal mortality rates in countries where abortion is illegal are terribly high. Abortion restrictions lead to an increase in unsafe abortions which, often, result in death. Each year 4.7% – 13.2% of maternal deaths are caused by unsafe abortions. The right to chose and have access to an abortion gives women the safety of making their choice and following through with proper care and medical advice. Making abortions illegal would remove access to the safety of legal abortions. It is a terrifying thought for so many women, that this haven for those who have nowhere else to turn will be stripped of funding.

Although different groups of people are allowed to have a difference of opinion, this topic is more than that because it affects the lives of so many women. Because pro-choice is based in human rights, everyone should be in favor of it. By being pro-choice you are offereing pregnant women the freedom to make their own choice based on their circumstances. Taking away that choice, would be taking away part of her freedom, natural rights, and bodily autonomy. Having a pro-reproductive rights stance does not indicate your opinion or beliefs because this is not about you, this is about the pregnant woman who you have no right to tell her what to do unless she asks for your opinion. Regardless of faith, gender or political opinion, being pro-choice protects the reproductive rights of all women in the United States.