Volume 81, Issue 2
September 18, 2009

Abortion Debate Deserves more than a “Quick Fix”

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to Ms. Beverly Frimpong’s article, “Abortion Debate Thought to be ‘Not That Serious.’” From Ms. Frimpong’s first line – in which she blithely states “Abortion… it is not that serious!” – I found her article to be both judgmental and highly uninformed. I will state from the outset that I am pro-choice, but even if I were anti-choice I am certain that I would take issue with the idea that abortion “is not that serious” for several reasons.

Ms. Frimpong claims that one can “decipher selfish motives from selfless ones, thus making clear the morality or immorality of the decision,” and that this will end all debate on the issue of abortion. I don’t mean to be rude, but who is Ms. Frimpong to decide which women’s situations are “moral” enough to warrant abortions according to her arbitrary set of conditions? Ms. Frimpong contends that it is “moral” to allow a woman to have an abortion due to health reasons but “immoral” to allow a woman to have an abortion simply because she doesn’t want a child. Once again, I must ask, who is she to make this distinction? And if not Ms. Frimpong, then who does have the right to decide what is “moral”? She answers neither of these questions.

Furthermore, I take issue with her assertion that the second woman is inherently “selfish” because of her decision not to have a child (in a world that is overpopulated and full of unwanted children already… but I will try not to delve into my own morals here). I think many people would disagree that simply because a woman has the money to support a child it means that she should.

I also have a hard time believing in Ms. Frimpong’s argument that if only Americans could look at abortion as a moral issue – granting abortions based on whether they are “selfish” or not – there would cease to be debate or strong feelings on the subject: “Abortion in [the first woman’s] case is serving the right purpose and will not yield criticism or disparate views among Pro-Life or Pro-Choice believers.” I think history has adequately proven this idea false – because the so-called “right purpose” of abortion is vastly different to different people.

Being pro-choice inherently means that perceived “morality” is a non-issue, and being anti-choice is ultimately only about one’s personal values and morals. Thus, Ms. Frimpong’s suggestion that abortion be considered on a case-by-case basis according to the “morality” of the situation will suit neither pro-choicers or extreme anti-choicers: the pro-choicers will obviously say that the woman has the right to decide no matter what, and the anti-choicers will balk at the idea of any abortion, based on “unselfish” reasons or not, period. To suggest otherwise is to unwisely ignore our society’s current debates on abortion, not to mention the recent, violent and emotionally-charged killings of abortion advocate Dr. Tiller and two anti-abortion activists. In America at least, abortion is a big deal, and to say otherwise is both disrespectful and irresponsible.

As for Ms. Frimpong’s contention that “destiny” is at work if a woman uses contraception and nonetheless becomes pregnant… I can only say that I heartily disagree that this means she should be forced against her will to carry the fetus to term.

Finally, I am disappointed to read the following: “You, reader, will have…noticed the omission of teenage pregnancies in the scenarios provided. This is simply because abortion should not be applicable to teens.” I’m sorry, but there is nothing “simple” about that opinion. There is nothing simple about the idea that teens should be completely disregarded in abortion legislation (other than to bar them across the board from abortion completely), and once again, the idea seems simply irresponsible.

Ms. Frimpong closes with the opinion that, “abortion as an issue should neither raise heated debate nor divide the nation into two…” Once again, I must disagree. Heated debate is an important part of our country’s lawmaking process, and I, for one, greatly encourage it. My intention in this letter is not to contend that pro-choice legislation is better, or that anti-choicers are wrong. My only goal is to point out that abortion legislation is in fact a very big deal, particularly in today’s society, and that it is an issue that should be carefully examined from all sides – not tossed off as a minor disagreement that deserves a quick fix.

-Claire Castagnera ’10