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A Personal Essay: Aborting the Roe v. Wade Decision

S. Jeffrey Duff is a 66-year old man who has had two marriages and six sons. He has been following current events since age 11, back in 1967

An Endless Controversy Without a Solution

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Probably No Topic Since 1973 has Generated More Heat and Less Light than Abortion

Abortion is a very contentious issue and it seems like I have debated and thought about it for the last 50 years or so - certainly since the U.S. Supreme Court's "Roe v. Wade" decision of 1973. I have been swinging back and forth on the abortion issue ever since.

Religion, psychology and philosophy provide very little objective guidance about the subject of abortion and it is hardly mentioned - in a negative way - in the Judeo - Christian Bible. So, I have tried to approach the subject of abortion from my biology background. All mammals try to nurture and protect their young offspring and humans are also mammals. We humans instinctively want to protect our own young children and even other peoples' infants are generally protected by most unrelated adults. The difficulty is that abortion does not normally refer to young children who are born alive and are now physically separated and alive apart from the mother. Abortion usually involves the termination and removal from the womb of the fetal infant - or whatever term you choose to use.

There is the rub, the real point of friction in the abortion issue. Each person must decide if an 'in utero' human-to-be is a human child or not. If the fetus is believed to be a human infant child, just hidden out of sight inside a mother's belly, then it instinctively seems horrific to kill and remove the 'infant' from the mother's womb. But, if people believe that a human-to-be is merely fetal tissue connected to the mother's blood supply until the day of it's birth, then abortion seems to be no worse (morally) than surgically removing a person's appendix or tonsils. Each choice of preferred term - whether calling this human-to-be a "fetus" or an "infant" - is more of an emotional belief than anything else. There are no absolutes in the fundamental belief in - or the belief against - abortion. IT IS AN INDIVIDUAL'S BELIEF and so it must be decided by every pregnant woman: "Is abortion acceptable to me and do I want to terminate this pregnancy?" There are no biological answers to the issue of human abortion.

Every Child Should be Desired, Loved and Nurtured

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Can Two Rights make a Wrong?

Roe v. Wade determined if the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT should both legalize the act of abortion and, indirectly, determined who should pay for it.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, as a leaked internal memo seemed to indicate would happen during the summer of 2022, the U.S. congress or the state legislatures will need to codify if abortion is legal and who shall pay for it. My guess is that the U.S. congress is too divided (just like the American people are as a whole) to pass any laws about abortion, for or against. Thus, the state legislators would become the new legal arbiters of abortion. Some very conservative and/or highly religious states - such as Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi - may ban abortion outright, or at least severely restrict it. Some very liberal states - such as California, Illinois, New York and Maine - will legalize abortion up to the moment of birth for any reason whatsoever. The rest of the states will end up in the middle, somewhere along the continuum between Mississippi ultra-conservatives and California ultra-liberals. Only a few states will likely try to ban it outright, so the overwhelming majority of states will presumably allow abortion to some degree or another.

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For an understandable breakdown of America's state-by-state attitudes regarding abortion and abortion laws, see this map from the Guttmacher Institute by following this link.

Abortion rights may be the single most contentious issue in America, especially since 1973. Surveys of Americans show that most adults would allow abortion up to 12 or 15 weeks from conception. Nationwide, far fewer Americans would allow abortions during the second trimester and only a small minority would sanction abortions up to the moment of birth. The question appears to be best resolved at the state level, I believe. It is such a passionate issue for many Americans, that the state level allows the best representation of the majority of people in each state.

Incidentally, for comparison purposes, most countries in the world do have legal abortion, but restrict it to 12 or 15 weeks from conception.

They Were All Fighting for Freedom

Both sides in the American Civil War believed that they were fighting for freedom.

Both sides in the American Civil War believed that they were fighting for freedom.

Sing, sing the Battle Cry of Freedom!

Both sides of the abortion debate claim that they have the moral high ground. Both sides claim that they are fighting for human rights and freedom - freedom of decision and action for the pregnant woman or freedom from pain and death for the human fetus. But, as in the two sides of the American Civil War, both pro-abortion and anti-abortion advocates believe they are fighting for human rights and freedom.

Both Federal and Confederate troops sang a popular song from the 1860s: "The Battle Cry of Freedom". Not since the Civil War have Americans seen two opponents battle each other - ferociously and bitterly, with the greatest determination - in the name of "FREEDOM". If both pro-abortion and anti-abortion opponents are morally correct, who is morally wrong in the abortion debate? Conversely, if both sides are morally wrong, who is morally right in the abortion argument?

The saddest part of this heated debate is that the motives of both pro-abortion and anti-abortion activists are morally righteous, in very different ways. Human rights for fetal infants vs. human rights for adult women. Ladies and gentlemen, choose your side ...

And don't forget to "Sing, sing the Battle Cry of Freedom!".

© 2022 Jeffrey Duff

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