Abortion refers to the physical act of purging, either by choice or accident, of a human fetus from a woman's womb. Abortion is a highly explosive subject, as it touches on two of the fundamental tenets of modern civilization; an individual's right to live and an individual's right to decide, or free will.
It represents a volatile mixture of morality, ethics, enlightened jurisprudence, individual rights, personal choice and religion.
FAST FACTS ON ABORTION
♦ The Center For Disease Control (CDC, Department of Health) is the federal overseeing body for abortions.
♦ An estimated 1.3 million abortions are performed annually (or approximately two and a half abortions every minute).
♦ 65% of abortions in the country are performed on unwed women.
♦ One fifth (19.3 percent) of all pregnancies ends with induced abortions.
The conflict over abortion is divided into two camps; the pro-life and the pro-choice.
Pro-life supporters essentially reject the idea of abortion based on religious, moral and ethical grounds. They seek to overturn the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, which they blame for the approximately 53 million cases of abortions since.
The ruling is seen by many pro-life advocates as extra-constitutional, and is a classic display of judicial activism that ignores the spirit of the law and the rights of an unborn child.
Pro-choice proponents meanwhile are unequivocally against the idea of any government involvement or influence in what they consider as ultimately, a woman's choice to make. They reject attempts to narrow down the issue to a single factor, ignoring the numerous extenuating circumstances surrounding the issue.
The rights of the unborn
The rights of the mother
Federal ban on abortions
The 30-year debate witnessed a renewed interest in 2010 following allegations by Republicans and pro-life groups that President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act will open the floodgates for indirect government funding of abortions. A bi-partisan "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (H.R. 3), legislation was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois) in the House of Representative in May 2011. The bill sought to permanently prevent federal funds from being used for abortions or on any related expenditures or insurance coverage. The bill passed the House on May 4, 2011, but it has not been tabled in the Senate following strong opposition over the text used to describe the act of rape.
Adoption, the third alternative, is mainly espoused by pro-life advocates, who argue of its more humane approach in dealing with the subject of unwanted babies. Pro-choice supporters, while not rejecting the idea outright, contends that adoption causes the same, if not higher, level of emotional trauma to mothers. There is also the question of economic pressures faced by expectant mothers, raising the specter of legalized human trafficking. In addition, the national adoption rate, while comparatively higher than most developed countries, are still extremely low, averaging at about 3% of live births annually.
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 / 1973) is a historic and still controversial ruling made by the United States Supreme Court on January 22, 1973. In its judgment, the Court ruled that a woman, based on the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment, has the legitimate right to abort her pregnancy. In addition, the Court also ruled that a human fetus only possesses the potential for life, and thus, cannot be considered as an individual, and consequently, denies it any constitutional rights.
The case was initially filed in Texas by one Norma McCorvey against the DA of Dallas County, Texas, Henry B. Wade, in March 1970. The Texan Court ruled in favor of the defendants and declared abortion illegal, a decision that was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court less than three years later.
Parental notification law requires underage mothers to seek the consent of their parents or guardians for any abortion-related procedures. Proponents argue that this ensures the involvement of an adult in the decision-making process. Critics, however, feel that the presence of trained medical personnel negates the argument and believes that such measures merely alienate and frequently cause additional mental distress to minors. It may even deter minors from approaching accredited facilities. Parental notification law is currently in force in 41 states in the country.
Parental consent law takes the process of notification a step further by requiring the permission of parents or guardians to be obtained prior to any abortion-related procedures. Currently, 23 states require parental consent for any procedures involving minors.
Spousal Consent (A Father’s Right)
The question of whether a biological father has the right to share in the decision making process appeared to be settled in the aftermath of the 1992 case between the Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (505 U.S. 833). The Supreme Court found in the favor of the plaintiffs and ruled that the five provisions of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act, one of which was the spousal consent clause, were unconstitutional.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is one of the nation's biggest health care providers for reproductive issues, with over 800 affiliated health centers spread over fifty states and the District of Columbia. It receives federal funding under the Federal Family Planning program. Planned Parenthood also happens to be the biggest health service provider for assisted abortions in the United States, accounting for approximately a quarter of all abortions annually.
For the past three decades, pro-life activists and Republican legislators have attempted to defund the organization, as they believe that federal funding provides Planned Parenthood with the freedom to focus their internal resources to assisted-abortion services.
Supporters of Planned Parenthood point out that the organization plays a crucial role in the country's sexual and reproductive health care services as 76% of their clients are living under the poverty level. Moreover, Planned Parenthood's education programs and contraceptive services prevent unintended pregnancies for at least half a million American women annually.
Embryonic stem cell research
Embryonic stem cells are cells derived from pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ES) originating from human blastocysts found in adult bone marrows, human embryos and umbilical cords. Scientists hope to eventually harness the technology for use in human transplantation therapy involving the nervous system, organs and appendages.
However, bone marrow stem cell extraction carries a high probability of permanent ancillary and second level damage, besides being of lower stem cell content. There are fears that the pharmaceutical industry, opportunists and middle men would leverage the current standoff in the debate over abortion to their advantage in the form of a rich and cheap source of stem cells from aborted fetuses.
2012 Libertarian Presidential Nominee
Former Governor of New Mexico
A qualified yes. Johnson believes that a woman has the right to decide on the matter until a point of the viability of the fetus has been reached. As Governor of New Mexico, Johnson signed a law that banned late term abortion.
“ Well I support a woman’s right to choose up until viability of the fetus, as governor of New Mexico, I have signed a bill banning late term abortion, I’ve always favored parental notification, I’ve always favored counseling and I’ve always favored the notion that public funds should not be used for abortion. So running for Governor of New Mexico in a state that was 2:1 Democrat, I really didn’t get that vote in the primary, but I’d like to think that I got all of those votes in the general election and that’s a reality here also, for those individuals that hold that as their number one issue, I’m not going to get that vote, I would hope to get that vote if I were to move on to the general election.”
May 5, 2011 Fox News Republican Presidential Debate, Greenville, South Carolina
Federal ban on abortions/ Roe v. Wade
Johnson believes that Roe v. Wade is extraconstitutional and has wrongfully given the government the mandate to intrude on the private lives of Americans.
“Judges should be appointed who will interpret the Constitution according to its original meaning. Any court decision that does not follow this original meaning of the Constitution should be revisited. That is particularly true of decisions such as Roe vs. Wade, which have expanded the reach of the Federal government into areas of society never envisioned in the Constitution. With the overturning of Roe vs Wade, laws regarding abortion would be decided by the individual states.”
Extracted from Gary Johnson’s Our America Initiative site
“… and I’ve also as Governor of New Mexico supported parental notification. I’ve also always supported counseling.”
August 25, 2011: Johnson speaking to CNSNews’ Editor-in-Chief Terry Jeffrey (Online With Terry Jeffrey)
“I believe that parents ought to know.”
1 Jan 2001, Playboy Magazine
While not specifically addressing the issue, Johnson’s belief that public funds should not be used for abortions conveys the impression that he is against federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
“I’ve always favored the notion of no public funds being used for abortion.”
June 8, 2011: Johnson speaking on C-Span’s Road to the White House 2012