Is Abortion a Public or Private Matter?

December 4, 2011

Political Theory

One of the most well-known and intense debates in today’s world has been the topic of abortion.  The amount of effort and passion many politicians and supporters show in regards to this subject is overwhelming.  Abortion has transitioned into the realm of public debate.  With abortion in the spotlight, two different sides have taken their respective stances in an effort to influence societal views and receive legal support: “pro-choice” movement and “pro-life” movement.  The debate essentially makes society determine whether abortion is a private or public matter.  On one hand, abortion can be seen as completely the decision of the child-bearing woman.  On the other hand, the state and male partner should also be considered in the decision making process.  Distinguishing the difference between public and private matters is one of the factors making it difficult to compromise on the issue.

            The heated argument over abortion has elevated to a whole new level.  Members of both sides have begun to bring the discussion into personal terms and have even resorted to violence (as illustrated in the video below).  The fact that this issue has caused people to act this way proves how passionate each side is.  The “pro-choice” movement believes women should have the right to determine whether they want to bear their fetus.  While the “pro-life” movement believes that it is unethical to allow abortions because the unborn child has a right to live.  Both of these groups obviously have conflicting opinions over the morality and legality of abortion.  There is an overwhelming amount of questions they must answer while debating this issue.

“Pro-life” Advertisement:

“Pro-choice” Advertisement:


What is the human organism prior to birth?

Should a woman have the right to determine what happens in her body?

Is abortion acceptable?  If not, should abortion be acceptable in the situation that someone is raped?

Should abortion be available to individuals who happened to have a condom break?

If a woman’s pregnancy threatens her life, is abortion acceptable?

While these groups may have many strong answers supporting their arguments, the only way for this issue to be resolved is through determining whether abortion is a private or public matter.  A question people should ask is…Should the state and/or individual men be involved with the decision making behind abortions?  This question is interesting because it looks at the issue from a completely different perspective.  When discussing the issue of private/public matters, politicians are logically approaching the debate by looking farther into the issue than just the superficial facts.

In my personal opinion, abortion is an issue that is both very hard to support and very hard to prohibit.  There are so many instances in which I would believe an abortion is the “right” choice.  Having a baby is a life-changing experience that does not just fade away with time.  A child requires an overwhelming amount of time, effort, and money.  Outlawing abortion in my opinion is irrational for this reason.  If an 18 year old girl is about to go off to college and receives a positive pregnancy test, her life would be changed forever.   With abortion prohibited, that young girl would be required to have the baby and take care of it for the rest of her life.  At the same time, I see the perspective of the fetus as being a “person” with the right to live.  There has to be some way to compromise between these two groups.

How do you feel about abortion?  Do you agree more with “pro-choice” or “pro-life”?

Does abortion fall into the hands of solely the woman (private matter) or in the hands of the woman, man, and state (public matter)?



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7 Comments on “Is Abortion a Public or Private Matter?”

  1. ywjpeter Says:

    I am pro-life. This decision does not come without questions in my head. You do raise good points, and from what I could conclude, I would summarize your points in one sentence, “When is abortion right and when is it wrong, and who makes the choices?” I feel like a baby is a life form as soon as you conceive it. What does that embryo or fetus become, a full grown baby and adult in the future. I think it is a private matter though. The one who conceived it has the full right responsibility and decision-making authority in the process. If morally the carrier can be content with her choice then that is her choice, and I don’t think anyone should be able to tell her otherwise. As one of your ads says that taxpayer money is going into this, then I would just raise the idea to make it something one must pay for.

    My ideas do contradict, private and pro-life don’t seem to work together, but I feel as though my view is for every baby to stay alive and not aborted, I believe in the fact that no government and no person should influence the person making the decision to keep a baby or abort it.

  2. guzmanfr Says:

    I personally believe in the importance of life. I wouldn’t feel right killing anything with a heartbeat (other than insects). Yet that is my private opinion, one I would make alone. If someone wants to abort that is their business. While there is nothing wrong with attempting to dissuade someone from performing the deed, the ability to actually perform said act shouldn’t be in the hands of the government. It should be the choice of two private individuals. That being said there’s also no reason for the government to fund abortion either. Abortion is not the government’s business. That’s my two cents

  3. joecotant Says:

    As we all know, abortion is without a doubt one of the most sensitive, complex, and highly debated discussion topics in our nation, and in the entire world. You cannot converse over politics, religion, ethnic traditions, or certain demographic groups without confronting the intricate issue of abortion. It is nearly impossible to find two people who agree completely on all issues concerning the topic of abortion, yet groups of individuals have tended to “band together” in many cases to show their general support towards either the pro-life approach, or the pro-choice mindset.

    I am a Catholic, and have been an avid churchgoer my entire life. I attended a Catholic brother high school and have always been taught that religion should be ranked high, if not the highest importance in one’s life. Because of these aspects of my religion, I was always taught that the pro-life approach should be supported in regards to this issue. Due to this, I believe primarily in the pro-life approach. My religious and personal beliefs have led me to deem that every child conceived in a woman’s body is a living being and has the same right to live as any one of us. Through the process of abortion, a human life is taken, and the opportunity for that person to flourish in the world diminishes.

    Although my religion is something that I consider very significant in my life, I am still torn between the two approaches. I think that every child should be given the right to live, but I can definitely understand why a woman would have to resort to getting an abortion, such as to avoid the economic adjustments that would have to be made when raising a child. There are countless complicated issues within a woman’s pregnancy that differ from one woman to another. For example, if a woman’s pregnancy threatens her life, it would be extremely difficult to decide whether getting an abortion would be okay. In another instance, deciding on receiving an abortion if a condom breaks is also another dilemma that requires an extreme amount of deliberation. There are so many complexities within the issue of abortion, which is why deciding on one definite answer is never completely possible.

    Lastly, I wanted to approach the argument over whether the decision to receive an abortion falls into the hands of solely the woman (private matter) or in the hands of the woman, man, and state (public matter). Personally, I am swayed towards the belief that abortion is an issue that should be decide by all persons involved in the issue, in other words, the public. I think that the woman should not be the only one who makes the decision, due mostly to the fact that the man participated in conceiving the child, and the state is the infrastructure that enforces the law over abortion. Overall, abortion is undoubtedly one of the most multifaceted, convoluted issues in our present society and one that can be approached, examined, and answered in an infinite number of ways.

  4. elotis Says:

    I may be biased in this situation because I am a female, but I absolutely believe that abortion should be a private matter. We live in a democracy where we should value the privacy of medical and bodily issues. This is not China, where one-child policies are the norm and the government is able to restrict what women/couples decide to do with their bodies. I just do not understand why it has to be the government’s business. While the idea of what defines “life” is very controversial, I believe that first trimester abortions should be lawful without question. I do not believe, however, in second and third trimester abortions, due to the fact that the fetus would feel the pain of the procedure. Call me a liberal, but I actually hold conservative views and consider myself to be religious, but the thought of the government having a strict say on what I choose to do with my body frightens me.

    As far as funding goes, I do not believe that the government should fund abortions. It would be contradictory to say that I believe the matter should be a private decision, yet allow the government to give its funds to programs like Planned Parenthood. The decision should be private, therefore, the funding should be.

    Also, on the issue of abortions in the instance of rape. I am sorry, but I do not know how anyone could be against getting an abortion in this case. Let’s be honest, if you became pregnant after being raped, why would you want to carry that child? This is my personal opinion, and I may be stirring the pot, but I’m just trying to imagine what any student in this class would realistically do.

  5. julieele Says:

    Abortion is legally considered a private matter and a constitutional right in today’s society due to Roe v. Wade. I do personally agree with abortion being a right because I am pro-choice. I believe that a women should have the choice of an abortion as long as it is early enough in her pregnancy. From more of a feminist perspective, this should be a private matter because society does expect the women to spend her life devoted to her child and to pay for it all. It is not as expected of the father to raise the child though in some instances, that does occur. I feel like it is easier for somebody to say that they should have the child and raise him/her but having a child is a life-changing event. The woman will not only have to care for herself but for her child as well. Often times women choose to have an abortion because they are not mentally prepared to care for themselves, let alone another being.

    I actually believe that the funding for an abortion should not come from taxes. Since this should be a private matter, the funding should come from the private sphere unless it was a rape case. I believe that rape cases should be allowed to use federal funding for abortion because it was not the woman’s choice to engage in that sexual activity and that this was a crime against the state. The act of rape itself is also a public matter.

    All in all, I believe that abortion should be a private matter in the hands of the woman. Though the woman should hear out the voice of the men, it should ultimately be up to the woman.

  6. dcmiller93 Says:

    I appreciate your bringing up this discussion and I’ll try to answer your specific questions. Bear in mind that I’m pro-life so obviously that forms the premise of my answers.

    What is the human organism prior to birth?
    I feel like you’ve answered the question sufficiently with the verbiage of your inquiry, it’s a human organism, simple as that. Whether theist or naturalist or humanist, few would deny that even simple humanity is distinctly valuable.

    Should a woman have the right to determine what happens in her body?
    I don’t think this is as absolute as people make it sound. Can a woman choose to sell her kidney to the highest bidder? Why not? We do have laws governing the things under our skin, but still many who are pro-choice reject this parallel.
    Then, what about this radical idea: what if the woman chose not to allow the fertilization of her egg? That’s certainly a choice she could make (with the exception of rape, I understand and will touch on later) quite easily.

    Is abortion acceptable? If not, should abortion be acceptable in the situation that someone is raped? Should abortion be available to individuals who happened to have a condom break? If a woman’s pregnancy threatens her life, is abortion acceptable?
    In a word, no, it’s not acceptable in my opinion. I know it’s a hard line to take, and I very well may be wrong in this case, but I simply can’t get over the idea of ending one person’s life for the convenience of another. I know two people who would have been aborted under these criteria (rape/health of mother) had their respective mothers followed the advice of doctors. One of those prospective abortees was my dad, so its interesting to imagine what would have been had my grandma not made the difficult choice to risk her life for him.

  7. luniho Says:

    Abortion, as has been stated by previous comments, is a horribly complex and convoluted issue. As a former employee of Planned Parenthood, I can say that while all of the individuals employed there are pro-choice, most are also anti-abortion.

    First and foremost, it is important to inform people of the impact of contraceptives. All too often, abstinence only education misleads young people; they may have no understanding of sexuality and intercourse, or only know what their peers may tell them. Additionally, myths and falsehoods abound; there are people who believe that oral sex alone can cause pregnancy and others who think that conception is not possible given a certain position was used during intercourse. Informing people worldwide about factual information on the implications of sexual activity will go a long way towards decreasing the number of unwanted pregnancies.

    Additionally, making these contraceptives available to those who desire them will further decrease the number of abortions worldwide. Organizations like Planned Parenthood will provide contraception to women on a sliding scale, its expense depending on what that woman can afford.

    Ultimately, abortion is a private matter that is subject to public regulation. If abortion were to be deemed illegal, it wouldn’t decrease the number of terminated pregnancies; women would have the procedure carried out illegally, risking infection and death with a back alley abortion. Considering that the woman is the only individual who will carry and bear the child, it is her decision to keep it-or put it up for adoption-or terminate that pregnancy. Health concerns, monetary concerns and already overcrowded households may contribute to her decision. No one other than that individual should be able to delegate her right to choose.

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