Abortion is an issue that has sparked one of the longest running debates among different contending groups; most prominent are the pro-life and the pro-choice. Pro-life advocates generally oppose abortion on the grounds that it is morally wrong. Pro-choice advocates, on the other hand, regard it as morally permissible, depending on the gestational stage of the fetus, the woman’s life situation and perhaps other factors. Between these two, there exists a considerable range of other positions. There are those who oppose it but are willing to work at reducing the number of abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancies. There are those who support it within the first two trimesters but oppose it during the succeeding months thereafter. Some oppose it but make an exception for cases when the woman’s life is at risk such as in cases of severe fetal deformities, or when pregnancy was not caused by consensual sexual activity or is in violation of social taboos such as in rape and incest.
Barack Obama is said to be “Pro-choice”, believing that women should ultimately be the decision makers of whether to continue or terminate the pregnancy. This is evident in the following instances:
1. He supports legislation that would abolish the Hyde Amendment.
2. According to the article on USA Today, Obama described himself as “somebody who believes that Roe v. Wade was rightly decided. … I think that the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum.”
3. According to an article in Washington times, Obama stated that “the first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” This legislation will allow women the fundamental right to have an abortion throughout the nine months of their pregnancy.
4. According to the aforementioned article, Obama, during the presidential debate held last October 15 at the Hofstra University, stated his support for allowing restrictions on late term abortions as long as there is an exception clause for the health of the mother. During his term as a state senator in Illinois, Obama has already been opposed to several legislations that aim to protect children who survive after an unsuccessful abortion or deliberate delivery before the age of viability.
5. Obama opposed the prohibition of partial birth abortion during his service with the legislature in Illinois.
John McCain, on the other hand is said to be “Pro-Life” as he believes that life begins at the moment of conception. In an article in the Washington Times, McCain stated that “Ihave a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president. And this presidency will have pro-life policies.” This stance held by McCain is also evident in the following:
1. He opposes Roe vs. Wade, stating in an article in USA Today that “I think that decisions (regarding abortion laws) should rest in the hands of the states.”
2. USA Today also reported that McCain oppose abortion except during instances when the life of the mother is threatened or in cases of incest or rape.
3. In an article in Washington Times, McCain also stated that “I have stated time after time after time that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, that I support a woman – the rights of the unborn – that I have fought for human rights and human dignity throughout my entire political career” and “To me, it’s an issue of human rights and human dignity.”
For me, I am more partial towards the argument put forth by Obama. I too believe that whatever may be the differing positions or the obtaining situation, abortion is and must always be a woman’s choice. For it is in the woman’s body, in the sanctity of her womb, that a baby breathes life and is given the chance to be borne out of this world. Therefore, the woman, who has dominion over her body, has all the inherent rights to make the choice and decide for herself whether to abort or not. Moreover, abortion is not merely an issue of political and legal conflict but of social, cultural and moral conflict as well. Good social services expand the scope of what is meant by “women’s reproductive freedom” and are, therefore, of utmost relevance and urgency. However, this could result only in a partial or total shift in child rearing responsibilities from women to men and ease the burdensome aspect of motherhood (through improved benefits and services). Petchesky argues that “it may also operate to perpetuate the existing sexual division of labour and women’s social subordination” and suggests that the realization of “women’s reproductive freedom” will have to be part of the radical transformation in the social relations of reproduction and production (Petchesky 1986, 16-17). In Hilda Scott’s words, “…. no decisive changes can be brought about by measures aimed at women alone, but, rather, the division of functions between sexes must be changed in such a way that men and women have the same opportunities to be active parents and to be gainfully employed” (Scott 1974, 190).
Bauer, Gary (Oct 31, 2008). McCain, Obama and the Culture War. The Washington Times. http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/31/mccain-obama-and-the-culture-war/
Biskupic, Joan (Oct 30, 2008). Election comes at a key point for high court’s stance on abortion. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/2008-10-30-supremecourt_N.htm
Duin, Julia (Oct 30, 2008). Pro Choice Obama repels Evangelicals. Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/30/obamas-abortion-stance-repels-young-evangelicals/
Gibbs, Nancy (Aug 17, 2008). McCain and Obama on Abortion. Time Magazine, http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1833496,00.html
Petchesky Rosalind Pollack (1986), Abortion and Women’s Choice: The State, Sexuality and Reproductive Freedom, Verso, London.
Rohter, Laryy (Aug 20, 2008). Obama’s 2003 Stand on Abortion Draws New Criticism in 2008. The New York Times, page A18. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/20/us/politics/ 20checkpoint.html?scp=1;sq=obama+and+abortion;st=nyt
Scot Hilda (1974), Does Socialism Liberate Women, Beacon, Boston, pp.190 as quoted by Petchesky Rosalind Pollack in `Abortion and Women’s Choice: The State, Sexuality and Reproductive Freedom, Verso, London
Seelye, Katherine (Aug 30, 2008). G.O.P. Holds to Firm Stance on Abortion. New York Times, “