It’s time to civilize the abortion debate


Graphic by Sarah Tillman

Anna Gustafson

Scrolling through my instagram feed, I’m intrigued by a video from the March for Life, a demonstration that occurs annually in Washington, DC to protest the legality of abortion. But instead of watching hoards of people flood through downtown DC, I head straight for the comments. I blink a few times before I am able to fully process the words that cascaded into my brain and caused my jaw to drop to the floor. The debate around legalizing abortion that filled the comments page was far from civil. Sadly, I wasn’t shocked to see people cursing each other out and going off on hateful tangents as to why the other person was wrong.

From the 1880s to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court Case, Roe vs. Wade, abortion in the United States was a crime. Nevertheless, “back-alley” abortions, an unsafe process typically lacking a doctor’s skills and professional medical equipment, were estimated as high as 1.2 million per year. With the growing push to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the ongoing abortion dispute will never be resolved if pro-life advocates maintain a closed mindset and don’t try to understand the other side. However, this is a two-way street; advocates of both pro-life and pro-choice must hear each other out in order for this debate to progress.

Those who are pro-life often claim that the extraction of a fetus is the murder of a child. According to the New American Oxford Dictionary, a fetus is an unborn offspring, specifically after eight weeks of conception, whereas a baby is a very young child that was newly or recently born. Murder is the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. Point being, it is unfair to accuse a woman who receives an abortion of murder because the fetus inside their bodies is not yet a human.

I can’t even begin to imagine walking down the hallways of Wilson with a baby bump. Many pro-life advocates are oblivious as to how the staring, gossip and constant judgement can affect someone. Of course, it’s not always like this, but when it is, abortion offers an alternative for these girls. This is something that needs to be taken into consideration during this debate. In order to see the pro-choice logic, you must put yourselves in their shoes.

There are an estimated 32,101 pregnancies per year from ages 12-45 that result from rape, yet another imperative reason as to why the abortion debate must remain civilized. How would they feel if called “sluts” and “whores” based off of an incredibly traumatic experience? How would anyone feel if these harsh words labeled them?

Many people are pro-life because abortion contradicts their religious beliefs, and that is okay. If you don’t like abortion, don’t get an abortion. You don’t have to support the cause, just don’t tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

It is crucial that the deliberation of abortion be civil. History teaches us that we get nowhere through a stalemate. Screaming at one another and shutting people down will accomplish nothing. We need to explain, in a mature manner, that there was and still is a reason abortion was legalized.

We must not abandon our beliefs and surrender to society. Women have been oppressed and deprived of necessary rights since long before the establishment of the United States. Let’s turn those spiteful instagram comments into a sensible argument that will truly influence this debate. America should be moving forwards, not backwards in time.