Government Involvement & Women’s Reproduction Rights There are few topics in America today as highly debated as the topic of abortion, and no matter which side of the fence one sits, there are many monumental questions surrounding this debate. What should be the involvement of America’s government in women’s birthing rights? Should the government be allowed to have a say at all? If there is going to be government involvement, how much is deemed “acceptable”? On January 22, 1973 a landmark Supreme Court case by the name of Roe v. Wade made it legal in all of the U. S. for the first time for women to have an abortion.
Prior to this decision, most states banned abortion, or limited it, performing the procedure only when the mother’s life was in danger (Lewis, 2011). The Roe v. Wade decision states that an abortion may be performed up until the fetus is “viable”. This means that if the fetus can survive outside of the womb, it cannot be aborted legally (generally this is anywhere from 20-24 weeks into the pregnancy). One of the most prevalent debates regarding government involvement in abortion surrounds the question, “Should the government be allowed to be the one to state which point human life is considered human life? Throughout the 1960’s when abortion was still illegal, women were relying on black market abortions performed by unlicensed physicians, or even putting themselves in danger by performing the procedure themselves (ushistory. org). Women’s groups began to organize and rally. They sought the opinion of the Supreme Court because there was no definitive outline or ruling from the federal government at this time. In Texas, the law prohibited any kind of abortion unless the mother’s life was in imminent danger. This is where the battle of Roe v. Wade took place.
When the decision came back, it was the biggest milestone in the history of women’s rights that the country had ever seen, and until this day it is a hot-button debate topic. While people hold all different beliefs about the subject, there are two predominant sides of the debate: Pro-life and pro-choice. Pro-life activists believe that life begins when the sperm joins the egg in conception, and that aborting a fetus any time after that is considered nothing short of murder. In American government, the Republican Party most often takes a pro-life stance on abortion.
Many pro-life believers do not feel as though their stance is a choice, but that religious beliefs state that life begins at conception, and that it is a sin to kill the unborn child thereafter. They also sometimes hold the belief that taking the “Morning After” pill is an abortion. The pro-life movement is making attempts today to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Several cases have even been brought before the court. On the opposite spectrum, there is the Pro-choice movement. Pro-choice advocates generally claim that a woman should have the final say in her own reproductive decision, and that life begins at birth.
There are many grey areas of the pro-choice belief, considering some believe that abortion is alright in the first trimester only, or that abortion should only be legal in cases of incest and/or rape. There are also pro-choice believers who feel as though abortion should be legal at all points of a woman’s pregnancy, no matter the trimester, and that the government should not regulate or hinder it whatsoever. While there is no black and white belief regarding abortion, the question still remains: What should the government’s role in all of this be?