Disclaimer: This was a paper/blog post that I submitted for my Civic-Engagement project that I needed to complete in order to receive my undergraduate degree in Communication Studies. The professor who graded this paper was not in favor of what was written in this paper. You can read more about the professor's response to this paper in the blog post: "Professor's Response to 'The Pro-Life Movement' Paper"
The Pro-life Movement, often referred to as the Anti-Abortion Movement or the Right-to-Life Movement, is a group of individuals who wishes to uphold the right to life for every individual from conception until natural death. The legality of abortion has changed over the years. According to the National Abortion Federation, abortions have been done for "thousands" of years but the legality changed in the 1800s (NAF). During the 1800s, abortion became illegal in the United States. The Right-to-Life movement stands behind the belief that we all have the right to life. That the right to life is a human right, and no one should be able to infringe upon it. The Pro-Life Movement seeks to inform people on the abortion movement and the inherent rights people have to life. The Pro-Life movement has been around since the time the right to life had become infringed upon and will continue until no one's right to life is infringed upon any longer.
The Legality of it All
One of the most ground breaking events that happened that changed the world and view of abortion and the right to life was the passing of Roe v Wade in 1973 ("Roe v Wade Is Decided?"). This is a Supreme Court decision that many individuals have heard about yet have little knowledge on. The decision of Roe v Wade was the right granted to women that they could legally have the right to have an abortion due to the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th and 14th Amendments in the Constitution. These amendments grant citizens the right to privacy. The decision did not grant the right to abortion, but that abortion is “permissible” if it fell into the boundaries of the right to privacy amendments. When we look at the history behind those Amendments of the "right to privacy", and the use and justification for them it leads to a greater understanding of the right to privacy. These Amendments were used and greater defined due to the Griswold v Connecticut constitution ruling (Sharp, 2013). The Griswold v Connecticut ruling in 1965, was an appeal on the Connecticut Law passed in 1879 that banned the use of contraception in their various forms ("Griswold v Connecticut"). The "Griswold v Connecticut" case argued and passed that it was illegal for anyone to infringe on the privacy of married couples in their own home when it comes to the use of contraception ("Griswold v Connecticut"). Although certain groups were against this case ruling due to various reasons, many can stand behind the ability and right of privacy of an individual to use contraception in their own home. When the case of Roe v Wade came to light in the 70s, many assumed that that the same amendments could be used to argue the right to abortion. Some claim that abortion is a private matter. They claim that the right to privacy is right to abortion since the act of abortion is a private choice between a woman and her physician. But is abortion actually a private matter, and therefore fall under the grounds to the right to privacy? Let us look at the amendments in question first:
(The summaries of the amendments used in this section are courtesy of the "Right to Privacy" article written by Tim Sharp)
"The First Amendment protects the privacy of beliefs. The Third Amendment protects the privacy of the home against the use of it for housing soldiers. The Fourth Amendment protects privacy against unreasonable searches. The Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination, which in turn protects the privacy of personal information. The Ninth Amendment says that the 'enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.' This has been interpreted as justification for broadly reading the Bill of Rights to protect privacy in ways not specifically provided in the first eight amendments. The right to privacy is most often cited in the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, which states: 'No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'" (Sharp 2013).
When we look at these Amendments further, we can see that the right to privacy in regard to abortion only really pertains to the 5th and 14th Amendments (which were the leading amendments in the ruling of the Griswold v Connecticut case). But even though it pertains to the topic of abortion, does it allow for the right to abortion? Let us look further... The 5th Amendment pertains to personal information. One could argue that abortion falls under the right to privacy when it comes to personal information. But when the state and the federal government becomes involved in the abortion, it no longer falls under the grounds of the right to privacy in this case. (State and Federal governments become involved when they have some inclusion in the matter, for example tax funded abortions). The 14th Amendment speaks about the right to not be infringed upon by law when it comes to deprive the person of the right of "life, liberty, and property". But does abortion deprive any person of those three rights: "life, liberty, property"? Yes. But not who people assume it infringes upon. The individual who is being infringed upon in this matter are the rights of the unborn baby. Not the rights of the mother. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 1 states: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights". Article 2 states: "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status". Article 3 states: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of person" (UDHR 1948). From this declaration from the United Nations, we can see that the right to life of an individual would be infringed upon if the "right to privacy" included the act of abortion. When we look at the "right to abortion" we understand that it does not fall under the "right to privacy". In the "right to privacy" we must look at all the individuals and institutions that are involved in the matter. No longer is the involvement in the matter between the mother and her physician. It now involves the state and federal government (granting these rights and many times the tax funding), it involves the physician, the mother, and the unborn child. Abortion is no longer, nor was it ever, a matter of privacy. It is a matter of who's rights are being infringed upon, and spoiler alert... It's not the mother’s.
Lack of Information
[In this section, quotations from Margaret Sanger will be included. These quotations may be triggering to some individuals, so reader discretion is advised.]
Many of those who are in favor of abortion tend to lack knowledge on the matter. Some claim it is a constitutional right, whereas above we dismantled that argument entirely. Some claim the “right” to abortion is better for the world, for woman, and for society. But many overlook who abortion actually affects. In the section labeled, "Statistics" we will be looking at the numbers more specifically, but allow us to look at some history behind the Abortion Movement.
A key leader in the Abortion movement is the Abortion provider: Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood was founded in 1916 by Margaret Sanger (Planned Parenthood). Planned Parenthood prides themselves by claiming the institution "delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide" (Planned Parenthood). One of the "vital reproductive health care" operations they provide is abortion. Surface level, Planned Parenthood sounds like an institution that supports individuals on their journey through reproduction, or lack thereof. But when looking closer into the history of the institution, it would be hard to imagine even the major advocates for Abortion to stand behind.
Planned Parenthood was started by Margaret Sanger in 1916. But who was Margaret Sanger, and why did she establish Planned Parenthood? Margaret Sanger is known for opening the first birth control clinic in the United States and being an advocate for reproductive rights of women (Latson, 2016). However, her past and reasoning for these "rights" are a very dark thing. Margaret Sanger is known to be advocate for women, but many do not know she is also an advocate for eugenics. Specifically, eugenics to cause the stop of reproduction of a certain group of individuals. In her "An Autobiography" by Margaret Sanger she recounts a talk she was invited to speak at during her advocacy for reproductive rights, she said "[a]lways to me any aroused group was a good group, and therefore I accepted an invitation to talk to the women's branch of the Ku Klux Klan at Silver Lake, New Jersey, one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing. [...] In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered" (An Autobiography, p.366-367). Margaret Sanger explains that she was invited to speak in front of the Ku Klux Klan which she referred to as a "good group" if they were interested in the topic of abortion. In her Autobiography she also notes the increase of the birthrate of groups of individuals and how controlling the birth rate would be beneficial, she said "[f]rom the eugenic standpoint there had been a rapid increase in the stature of the Dutch conscript as shown by army records. The data proved conclusively that a controlled birth rate was as beneficial as I had imagined it might be" (An Autobiography, pp. 147-148). But who are these individuals that Sanger thought would benefit from the slow of birthrate of certain groups? And who were these groups that she wanted to slow the birthrate of? One group of individuals that Sanger thought would be beneficial to slowdown the rate of are those who one would consider "unfit". She said, "I accepted one branch of this philosophy, but eugenics without birth control seemed to me a house built upon sands. It could not stand against the furious winds of economic pressure which had buffeted into partial or total helplessness a tremendous proportion of the human race. The eugenists wanted to shift the birth control emphasis from less children for the poor to more children for the rich. We went back of that and sought first to stop the multiplication of the unfit. This appeared the most important and greatest step towards race betterment" (An Autobiography, pp. 374-375). The question arises as to who Margaret Sanger is referring to as unfit in her eyes. I do not want to delve much deeper into who she sees as unfit, because I do not think anyone is unfit for the world. Everyone deserves the right to life as the UN declaration states. Margaret Sanger would not agree though. In a letter she wrote to Dr. Gamble in 1939, Sanger says one of the most disgusting things ever to be written. Because I fear to be misquoted, I will include the letter here. Please read. It will open your eyes to who Sanger really was.
Margaret Sanger was not an advocate for women's rights. She was an advocate for removing those in the world who she saw as unfit. With this information and quotations, we can understand that Sanger had a clear eye for who she saw was unfit and the creation of Planned Parenthood was to stop the growth of who she saw was unfit.
Many individuals do not know the history of the Planned Parenthood institution, nor do they understand why it was created. This is a scary thing because many people are advocates for this institution, but many lack the information that is vital in creating a stance on the topic.
623,471 legally induced abortions took place in 2016, according to the CDC.
186 abortions for every 1000 live births in 2016, according to the CDC.
"60,236,165 American Lives lost to abortion since 1972", according to LiveAction.org
647, 457 deaths in 2017 caused by heart disease, according to the CDC.
599,108 deaths caused by cancer in 2017, according to the CDC.
169,201 deaths caused by accidents in 2017, according to the CDC.
The Numbers Conclusion
Looking at the numbers, we can see what the leading causes of deaths in the United States are according to the CDC. Deaths caused by heart disease, cancers, and accidents are considered the leading causes of deaths in the United States. When looking at the numbers of deaths caused by abortions in comparison to the deaths caused by other leading causes, we can understand that abortion is a leading cause of death in the United States. That's a problem. We go through so many measures to shrink the number of deaths caused by other leading causes, when is abortion as a leading cause going to be combatted?
Relevance to the Author:
My name is Vanessa. Many people do not know me, at least the depths who of who I am as a person. When you see me, I just look like your average female college student trying to make a mark on this world. Let me tell you a little bit more about me and hopefully it will help you understand my purpose for the passion I have behind being an advocate for the unborn.
I am a 22-year-old female. I was born in Los Angeles, California. I am half Latina and Half Scandinavian. Part of me comes from Mexico, where the other portion comes from Sweden. My grandfather was an immigrant from Mexico making me a 2nd generation. I am a conservative. I have financial hardships at times. I did not grow up rich, I grew up on the poorer end of the spectrum.
There are many qualities of myself that would lead for people to see me as unfit. For example: I'm a woman, I'm poor, I'm Mexican, I'm conservative, I have glasses, I'm 5'1'', and many others. Fortunately for me, today's society sees me as valuable in some way... whereas in a different year, country, society, etc, I may not be so fortunate.
There are people in the world who are preyed upon because of their race, their economic status, their sex, their age, their class. Fortunately for many groups there are advocates who fight day in and day out for everyone to have rights and to be considered valuable. Yet there is a disproportionate advocacy for the most innocent life on earth, the unborn.
I do not think my life is more valuable that anyone else's. Nor should anyone else think that of themselves. But there is a group of individuals who walk around with the name "Women's Rights Advocates" who infringe on the rights of others and claim their lives are more valuable than those of a different group. That different group being the unborn.
I know of so many people in the world that would be considered not valuable or unfit in the eyes those advocates. There are people who stand for my rights as a human, so I will not leave behind the most innocent lives who also need people to stand for their lives. Fortunately for myself, I have a say in my life. I can vote. I can make my own decisions, but I did not always have these capabilities. At one point I was also in the womb. Innocent. Relying on my mother to protect me. I was lucky in this life to have a mother who was Pro-Life because I sure as heck did not deserve to be here anymore than the over 600,000 babies who are killed every year due to abortion. I was premature. I was not fully developed to full term when I was born. Was my life any less valuable than those who make it to full term? Was my life any more valuable than those who have yet to make it the point of development that I was at? The answer to those questions are NO. My life is not more valuable that anyone else's life. I am not worth more than a 99-year-old grandma, I am not worth more than a 1-year old baby, I am not worth more than a 45-year-old man, I am not worth more than a baby at the time of conception. And neither are you.
“Data & Statistics - Reproductive Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Nov. 2019, www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/index.htm.
“FastStats - Deaths and Mortality.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 May 2017, www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm.
“Griswold v Connecticut .” Oyez, www.oyez.org/cases/1964/496.
“History of Abortion.” National Abortion Federation, 29 Jan. 2015, prochoice.org/education-and- advocacy/about-abortion/history-of-abortion/.
Latson, Jennifer. “Margaret Sanger, Race and Eugenics: A Complicated History.” Time, Time, 14 Oct. 2016, time.com/4081760/margaret-sanger-history-eugenics/.
Parenthood, Planned. “Who We Are.” Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are.
“Learn About the Problem.” Live Action, www.liveaction.org/learn/the-problem/.
“Roe v. Wade Is Decided.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 13 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/roe-v-wade.
Sanger , Magaret. “Libex Education .” Libex Education , https://libex.smith.edu/omeka/files/original/d6358bc3053c93183295bf2df1c0c931.pdf.
Sanger, Margaret. Margaret Sanger: an Autobiography. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2013, https://archive.org/stream/margaretsangerau1938sang/margaretsangerau1938sang_djvu.txt.
Sharp, Tim. “Right to Privacy: Constitutional Rights & Privacy Laws.” LiveScience, Purch, 12 June 2013, www.livescience.com/37398-right-to-privacy.html.
“Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations, United Nations, www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html.