This I Believe

Juliana - Rolling Hills, California
Entered on November 16, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: freedom

This I Believe: Abortion Must Be Legal

I am a woman. And I am a citizen of the United States of America. I have individual rights that are protected and guaranteed by the Constitution. I have the right to vote, the right to free speech, the right to privacy, and I have the right to choose to have an abortion. This I believe: abortion should not be used as a form of contraception. It should not be contemplated or undertaken casually, and it should not be without limitations. It should be legal.

Making abortion illegal doesn’t make it go away—it makes it unsafe. There will always be women who need or want abortions. Before Roe v. Wade, women either paid doctors to perform abortions secretly and in squalid conditions, or had to use things like knitting needles and wire hangers to perform the procedures on themselves. Overturning Roe v. Wade won’t eradicate abortions; it will make dangerous abortions the only option for women who choose to have them. And being forced to undergo a life-threatening procedure to terminate a pregnancy won’t make abortions less necessary or less frequent—it didn’t before 1973. I don’t buy that the decision to have an abortion is so easy for most women to make; I would bet it’s pretty difficult and potentially traumatic. But what if a woman is raped? What if the condom breaks? Or birth control doesn’t work? What if a fetus isn’t going to survive to term anyway? Should a woman be forced to sustain the pregnancy until it spontaneously aborts? So I think a critical question becomes whether or not a woman’s life is valuable enough to ensure a safe abortion by maintaining its legality. I believe it is.

The issue of abortion has also become so clouded by peoples’ religious beliefs. I don’t understand why this is even a factor. The Constitution mandates the separation of church and state. I believe in the Constitution. So I believe religion should have no bearing on the legality of abortion. If a woman thinks abortion is amoral because of her individual religious beliefs, that’s completely valid. She doesn’t have to have one.

I am a citizen of the United States of America. And I am a woman. My body is the only tangible thing that is fundamentally and entirely my own. Being forced by the government to sustain a pregnancy that I don’t want—being forced to do something to my body that I don’t want to do—would, I believe, be the most egregious violation of the civil liberties that make my American citizenship so sacred to me.

I believe that I am entitled to the right to choose to have an abortion. And I am fearful of a future without it.