Rebekah Rosenstein, Staff Writer

The limitations of human rights are often called into question when the concept of abortion is brought up. Abortion is a heavy topic, as it highlights the question of if our bodies are truly our own, and if we really do have free will. It provokes the discussion of who is deserving of rights and why. I believe in every woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy if she chooses to do so, and that every woman should have this option available to her.

I’m pro-choice largely because I truly believe a fetus does not meet the requirements of a “human being,” and therefore is not deserving of the same rights. A fetus cannot survive on its own, and is completely dependent on the mother’s body. Only at the point of 24 weeks is the state of “fetal viability” reached, where the fetus is able to survive outside the body. After that time frame, the fetus viability still cannot be guaranteed, and neither can its quality of life.

Automatically assuming a fetus has a “right to life” implies it takes precedence over the mother’s right to her own body, and suppresses her will to choose. Are women afforded less rights than that of a fetus?

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Constitutional personhood” refers to “a human being or legal entity with some or all constitutional rights.” The legal definition of a person is “an entity who can, under common law or statutory law, hold and sell property, and sue or be sued.” Boethius, a Roman philosopher, defined a person as “an individual substance of rational nature.” John Locke, an English philosopher, defined a person as “a thinking intelligent Being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself.” A fetus may meet the definition for “life,” but does not meet the definition for being a “person,” and should not be allowed the same rights as people.

The option of abortion can also provide relief for women who become pregnant after being assaulted and do not want to go through with the pregnancy. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women will be raped at some point in their life. Should 20% of women be forced to worry about carrying an unwanted child conceived as an act of violence? Women should not have to live with the permanent consequences of something that was not of their will. Forcing them to bring to term a pregnancy caused by sexual assault is just another forced assault on that woman.

People often argue that abortion is just a way for women to avoid the responsibility of children, and that if they really didn’t want to get pregnant they wouldn’t have had sex in the first place. Putting the blame on women by saying pregnancy is the woman’s responsibility demeans motherhood, and defines it as nothing more than an inconvenience. Children should not be used as a punishment for sex, as it turns it into something “bad” that is deserving of punishment.

Guilt-tripping women into giving birth doesn’t allow the child to be born into the circumstances it deserves. Having a child requires proper consideration, and no child should come into this world unwanted. Unwanted pregnancy has been linked to the development of depression and anxiety in women, and women who are forced to carry out an unwanted pregnancy have been found to suffer more serious complications during childbirth compared to the level of complications women who had an abortion experienced.

Beyond that, consenting to sex does not automatically mean a woman consented to get pregnant, and not all women have easy access to the proper contraceptives necessary to prevent pregnancy, or are even taught how to use them. Contraceptives also are not a fail-proof system, so a woman could take all the correct precautions in order to prevent pregnancy and it might not be enough. In that case, is the fault still hers?

Abortion isn’t just “looking for a way out.””

Abortion isn’t just “looking for a way out.” If someone knows they can’t provide for their child, abortion could be considered the more responsible decision. Of women who have abortions, 42% are below the federal poverty level.
Abortion is a common practice all over the world, whether it’s outlawed or not. One half of abortions performed today are illegal, and every 7 minutes a woman dies from an unsafe abortion. Outlawing abortion only leads to more unsafe abortions, and will put more women’s lives at unnecessary risk. We have to ensure women are provided a safe way to terminate their pregnancies.

The most common argument from the pro-life community is centered around religion. The concept of the beginning of human life is philosophically and religiously based. It is an opinion, and you can’t enforce laws based on religious beliefs and personal opinions. Religious arguments have no place in the law, thanks to our separation of church and state.

The debate isn’t whether life begins at conception, it’s whether personhood begins, and I believe it doesn’t. We can’t deny or limit the defined rights of a fully grown human being in order to afford rights to a fetus, whose personhood is both debatable and rooted solely in theory and speculation.