My body, my choice

People+protest+for+abortion+rights.+%28Brianne%2FFlickr%29.

People protest for abortion rights. (Brianne/Flickr).

Talia Neufeld and Jo Samuels

“How could you murder your own child?” Such is often the statement directed towards women contemplating the decision to have an abortion. This discussion of abortion is prevalent in our world today as a highly controversial issue. A woman’s opinion is undermined when others legally decide what she can and cannot do with her own body. The circumstances that lead a woman to terminate her pregnancy tend to be forgotten in the polarized debate about abortion. By neglecting the complexities of the decision to terminate a pregnancy, the societies opinion only present two sides to the argument: pro-life and pro-choice. In reality, expecting parents must consider countless factors that influence the ultimate result of a pregnancy. Partisan voices must stop speaking and instead listen and empathize with the stories of those who make this controversial choice, as each case is as unique as the person who must make it. 

The untold stories of these struggling individuals must be heard and cannot  be forgotten. The strong pro-life and pro-choice “one size fits all” opinions often neglect the individualized cases of these women. A main factor that influences this pivotal decision is the dedication and time a mother must give to her child. In some situations, a woman is neither mentally nor physically prepared to bear a child, nor is the woman capable of raising a child at a certain point in her life. These circumstances must be taken into consideration when contemplating abortion. 

Brittany Mollister was a 22-year-old single woman living in Chicago when she became pregnant. Although she was unprepared to have a child, Brittany had to follow through with the pregnancy because her medical insurance provided no financial support or compensation for birth control or the abortion procedure itself. The insurance company claimed that providing such support would condone the threatening and termination of a human life. Mollister explains, I thought,‘OK, this is what it is.’ I was forced to carry the pregnancy to term, and I didn’t want to. That’s rough. That was really rough for me” (McDonough). The stories of struggling mothers such as Brittany Mollister are overlooked and are instead recognized as illegal acts of abusive conduct, murdering a child. This is not the case, as the child is yet to be born, making this decision not murderous, but one that is best for the mother.

There are many contributing factors that inform to the termination of one’s pregnancy, and society often neglects these factors when taking a stance on abortion. Time after time, women are antagonized and judged by many, often for circumstances beyond their control. These stories must be heard and understood in order to truly recognize the complexities that drive women to abortion. In 2017, The New York Times reported a case of seventeen-year-old Jane Poe, a young female refugee who was raped in her home country. She was given no choice to have an abortion because the caseworker assigned to her was pro-life. According to the article, “The Trump administration official in charge of her care decided not to grant her access to an abortion — because, he said, abortion was in of itself a form of ‘violence ’” (Yee). The ultimate decision, made by the government and Poe’s doctors, was made while being unaware of how this baby was conceived. In turn, this made Poe feel distressed and powerless, now having to give birth to a child of rape. Poe was forced to have her child and avoid what her caseworker claimed to be the “violence” of abortion, even though the child was conceived by the violent crime of rape. Someone other than the pregnant individual is making these decisions, when they are not first hand experiencing the physical process of being pregnant. It is not just to make a claim that the violence a woman causes on her unborn child is more extreme than the violence she endures during rape.

Society should feel sympathetic for the stress that the woman is going through and respect these conditions. Though many people have opinions on this controversial issue, the ultimate outcome should be decided based off of the woman’s particular desires. Those who believe that abortions should be illegal may have good intentions, but their strong opinions on this topic should not dictate the law. Scott Lloyd, the director of the federal agency where Poe was living, explained why he supported the caseworker’s decision: “A woman’s desire to end a pregnancy springing from rape might be ‘understandable.’ But it was not possible to ‘cure violence with further violence’” (Yee). This aspect can affect the mental health of the mother. If a woman adheres to the dictations of the world around her instead of her own instincts, she might regret not following through with the abortion process. When society’s voice speaks over her own, saying she is inflicting violence and pain onto her unborn child, the mother’s own opinion is lost in the noise.

At the end of the day, the ultimate decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy comes down to the woman, the person that goes through with the surgical process to excise her fetus from her body. It should be up to the woman and the woman only, but she must consider the contributing factors before making her final decision. Women should not need to feel pressured to listen to a certain decision that the rest of the world makes, because it is not up to society to determine these laws. No woman should ever feel like they have to please others for the sake of their medical conditions, nor should they base such an important situation on what society tells them to. The world may judge, but sometimes the world needs to be silent.