Friday, June 26, 2009

Abortion Term Paper

Social problems represent the tension between individual freedom and collective interests. It is hard to encourage people to act against abortion when no one knows how large the problem is. A social problem is created when private troubles, such as an individual’s behavior, become public concerns. In the past abortion was a private concern. But feminists and other interest groups began to view abortion as an issue involving women’s rights, prompting them to campaign for its legalization. In turn, this led to a growing controversy over abortion laws which eventually turned into a public concern where it remains today. American citizens face many social problems; abortion has clearly become one of them. Although, the decision to have an abortion is a private matter, the collective interest of the public brings the morality of an individual choice into question.

Whether abortion is a right or wrong is a very delicate moral question that draws different responses. The most important legal decision on abortion is the Supreme Court case of Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortions in the United States. Even after the legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court, however, the matter continued to remain a private issue. As more people spoke out against abortion, tension was created and a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion became another hotly debated public issue. The public began to scrutinize the Supreme Court’s decision and another example of the law’s inability to satisfy a population with a wide spectrum of ideas surfaced. The growing tensions in society spread to organizations and establishments such as the Roman Catholic Church. Here women felt they were considered criminals because they aborted their pregnancies. The church began to relate unwanted pregnancies with irresponsible and “sex hungry” women, and public opinion formed a negative image of women who had chosen abortion. This negative image soon created a social problem because women not only had to deal with the reality of their unwanted pregnancies but they also had to face vehement pro-life adversaries. Along with the personal humiliation involved in an abortion, women were branded as murders or killers by anti-abortion groups. Cicero once said, “To convince others, we have to be familiar not only with our views but with theirs.” The rhetorician makes us realize the perspectives of women on the issue of abortion but also challenges the debate’s key to consider the personal and public motivation of their adversaries.

Public policies on abortion cause the private aspect of the problem to be dealt with in a public forum. Soon more problems stemmed from the debate as other important policies, such as those concerning the environment and economy, were neglected and set aside to cater to the formation of an abortion policy that would be widely accepted. For example, money funded by the government was used to facilitate abortion research and other contraceptives superceded the attention intended for the health care and social security. The public concern grew for Americans who would rather have funding for medical insurance and welfare for themselves instead of funding research to help calm the abortion storm. The government was indeed willing to dispense tax money for abortion research and disregard other important issues. The morality of the issue was beginning to being questioned as the government decides whether to continue funding abortion research or to provide the Medicare for its senior citizens. The personal consequences of these actions and their implications for one’s quality of life are main reasons for a divided society and the development of a social problem. A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey found 38 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in most or all circumstances, 42 percent believe it should be available in a few circumstances, such as to save the mother's life and 18 percent say abortion should never be legal. This is almost unchanged in the past 15 years. These percentages reflect the different opinions of society and we can see the fragmentation caused by one issue. The issue of abortion is also related to stark differences of opinion about privacy, a growing public concern in an age of surveillance and widespread, international dispersal of information. Even in a modern world, though, it is still difficult to differentiate what is moral and amoral and what is permissible in society.

The legal implications of abortion are more tangible than their moral counterparts, and they rise to the foreground of the controversy of abortion practices in the United States. Politics still play a major role in shaping the debate over abortion, but much of that debate has become predictable.
David Garrow, an Emory University law professor claims,
“Much of the controversy about abortion is really stimulated by the interest groups on both sides of the political question, rather than by ordinary Americans, The American people and many political leaders have already made up their minds about legal abortion.”

The last decade has highlighted the conflict of interest inherent to the issue of abortion. The tension can be linked to different agendas of the numerous political parties. The present anti-abortion administration sets a new mind set for its people to follow. Another possible issue that can be raised here is that of ethics, simply as to who is right and wrong. And if society forces women to have children against their will, then should society have the obligation to care for food, provide clothing, and educate these innocent children and make them normal but not necessarily productive members of society. The Democratic government of the previous administration supported the pro-choice advocates of the abortion: “Clinton supports The Freedom of Choice Act, guaranteeing abortion rights to women, regardless of the Supreme Court's possible reconsideration of Roe vs. Wade, and overriding existing state regulations and provisions.” But the present administrations stance on pro-life leaves the citizens of America confused due to the constant see saw battle for women’s rights amongst the different administrations in the last ten years.

The prior confusion does not, however; reflect the ethical issue of abortion. The ethical issue of abortion reflects the thoughts of a free society where the people, not the government, make private choices. A main reason behind the tension created is attributed to the fact that advocates of the anti abortion movement cannot argue with the Supreme Court decision of legalizing abortion. An anti abortionist view of legalization is explained by Genevieve Wood of the Family Research Council who claims, "There are a lot of measures that stand a very good chance of passage and the American public would be supportive of many of them." This view is shared by anti-abortionists who are still trying to reverse the Supreme Court decision of 30 years ago. The American people still do not want the matter to rest and be settled with. They are adamant about their individual views. These conflicting views create social problems. If the decision to abort a child is a personal one, why should there be public consent for this decision? Such an action will only affect the lives of a few individuals, who are willing to take the risks involved in the abortion. If somebody wants to do something rational to their thought process, why should the public have an opinion on this matter? In a phone call broadcast to anti-abortion protesters gathered on the National Mall, President Bush vowed "to protect the lives of innocent children waiting to be born" and would promote "compassionate alternatives" to abortion. The message relayed by the present administration is not based upon on the ethics of the issue but upon the responsibilities of the government and public in making a decision on behalf of its female constituents However, the present administration uses their political authority to influence private citizens to adapt to a new anti-abortion paradigm present in today’s society. But abortion’s opponents seem willing to pass the massive tax increases and social programs to deal with raising the child who would otherwise have been aborted.

One potential alternative of pro-life advocates is adoption. Many people would like to adopt a child but have to face the adversity of the child not being genetically theirs. Here ethical issues arise about the societal responsibilities of raising a child given up for adoption, if a woman decides to let the child live but eventually gives it up for adoption the burden of the child will once again fall on society. The foster and abortion homes now have an additional burden on them; to bear the mistakes of women. In my opinion the gift of life and parenthood is given to us by the Lord; we shouldn’t just give that gift and responsibility away because we are not capable of handling the pressure Abortion generates the concept of individual freedom versus group responsibility to a group, so tension develops between the individual responsibilities of conception and the public responsibilities of supporting a new child.

At present the abortion rate is at its lowest since 1974, yet pro-abortion groups still lobby for the reversal of Roe vs. Wade. Not only are the abortion rates decreasing but also there has been an 11% decline of abortion providers since 1996. The tension caused despite the steady decline of abortion rates leaves the future of this problem extremely unpredictable and seemingly endless, largely due to its moral implications. The question now arises as to why the pro-abortion groups still want the court decision to be overturned. The only possible reason that can be formulated is that they want to achieve a moral victory and do not want to face the adversity of being defeated again. However, this moral defeat can once again lead to tension, because abortion is an extremely disputed issue that has evolved from a private matter into a public concern. These concerns reflect the collective interests of the public who deal with abortion as one of the many social problems eminent in America today.

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