Pro-life or Pro-death?

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Pro-life or Pro-death?

MC Toth, Reporter, Photographer

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“Pro-life” abortion arguments challenged “pro-choice” beliefs, but now the phrase “pro-life” has contradicted itself. In March of 2018, politicians proposed a new bill that punishes abortion by the death penalty. The local Republican party in Ohio’s legislature broadened its definition of “a person” to include unborn humans as part of House Bill 565. From conception to birth, the state of Ohio considers the fetus a person. By altering the definition of a person to include “unborn humans” in the state’s criminal code, people who perform or undergo abortions now become vulnerable to severe criminal punishments.

Ohio’s reformed abortion policy makes it the state with the strictest abortion legislation in the United States. Prior to House Bill 565, Iowa held the harshest abortion regulations after passing “The Heartbeat” bill in May of 2018. The “Heartbeat Bill” forbids abortions after detecting a fetal heartbeat, banning the procedure by the sixth week of most pregnancies. Yet at the six week mark, few visible body changes appear, making pregnancy detection difficult. Before women even realize that they have conceived a child, Iowa lawmakers left them unable to legally  receive an abortion.

The difference between Iowa’s abortion laws and Ohio’s legislation proposal comes from Ohio’s criminal punishment code, which permits the death penalty. If a woman chooses to undergo an abortion, she faces criminal penalties ranging from a prison sentence to capital punishment. Ironically, House Bill 565 applies to cases including health-based terminations of rape and incest cases that pose a threat to women’s lives. By implementing a bill that punishes abortion by the death penalty, women could die from withholding a life-saving abortion, or by facing capital punishment after the procedure.  

During the first six weeks of embryonic development, vital organs and body systems still remain undeveloped. About the size of a sweet pea, the embryo possesses no arm or leg buds, no neural tube, eyes, nose, jaw, cheeks, chin, or ears, no kidneys, liver, heart or lungs, no trachea, larynx, bronchi or primitive germ cells. Essentially, at this point during a pregnancy term, the embryo represents a blob of developing cells. Should a woman face the death penalty for terminating these developing cells?

In countries that ban abortion, the illegal procedures continue taking place—just in unsafe, unsanitary conditions. In Haiti, where lawmakers have outlawed abortions, women attempt self-performed abortions with coat hangers and incorrectly dosed abortion drugs, leading to internal bleeding, emergency visits, and fatal consequences. When a will exists, people will always find a way. Outlawing abortion only opens up a black market for the procedures, giving women no choice but to inflict self-harm or give birth to a baby they cannot raise.

When women can receive abortions legally, and in safe, sanitary conditions, they meet with doctors and counselors to discuss the best option for the mother and the unborn baby. Enduring an abortion emotionally and physically daunts women, but when legalized, it allows them to receive the medical help they need.

A woman victim to rape, incest, or health concerns can decide if she wishes to terminate the traumatic conception or keep the unborn baby. Certain financial situations and overall quality of life for the unborn baby also factor into women’s decision to keep or terminate a pregnancy. If a woman must birth a baby she cannot support or care for, it compromises the child and mother’s life. Because the choice to undergo an abortion protects a woman’s health, influences the overall quality of life for the mother and child, and accounts for sexual assault cases, the procedure should exist legally—and if imposed with regulations— not punishable by the death penalty.

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