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Last updated on: 11/15/2011 3:34:11 PM PST

Should Abortion Be Legal?

PRO (yes) CON (no)
Louise Melling, JD, Director of the Center for Liberty at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), wrote the following comments in her Jan. 22, 2009 article, "Common Hopes," published by the Daily Kos:
"We know that women have abortions for many reasons. Even if we disagree on the issue of abortion, we can agree that these are private personal decisions we all must be able to make based on our own circumstances, beliefs, and values. We should respect and support a woman and her family as they face the life-altering decision of whether to have a child. It is neither my place nor our government's place to make such an important life decision for someone else... We all care about life and about doing our best for the people we love. When we bring children into the world we want them to have the opportunity to live a good life. And we want to build a better future for our children and our grandchildren.

Abortion and reproductive freedom more broadly defined are important pieces of ensuring this common dream. To obtain a better future, we each must be free to make profoundly personal decisions about our reproductive lives without unwarranted government intrusion. As with all freedoms, there are limits. But a government that respects the personal integrity of its people both interferes in these essentially private decisions as little as possible and helps ensure that everyone has the opportunity to make these decisions responsibly."

Jan. 22, 2009 - Louise Melling, JD 

The Democratic Party wrote the following position in its "2008 Democratic Party Platform," published on Aug. 13, 2008 on its website www.democrats.org:
"The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right."

Aug. 13, 2008 - Democratic Party 

The National Abortion Federation, a nonprofit association of abortion practitioners, wrote the following position in its article "Pro-Choice and Proud," published on its website www.prochoice.org (accessed May 27, 2010):
"The ability to access safe and legal abortion has been critical for many women as they seek to define and live their lives with dignity. Honoring women means honoring their choices, including the choice of whether and when to have children.

Women are capable of making intelligent and conscientious decisions about their own lives and families. Women deserve the autonomy and dignity to act in accordance with their personal convictions, and to decide what is best for their own lives and families. Women should be trusted and respected to exercise the choices about their bodies and lives that are best for them, and not be forced by the government into personal reproductive decisions that are against their will."

May 27, 2010 - National Abortion Federation (NAF) 

NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws) Pro-Choice America, a nonprofit pro-choice organization, wrote the following in its Jan. 1, 2010 article "Roe v. Wade and the Right to Choose," published on its website www.naral.org:
"[Before Roe v. Wade] an estimated 1.2 million women each year resorted to illegal abortion, despite the known hazards of frightening trips to dangerous locations in strange parts of town, of whiskey as an anesthetic, doctors who were often marginal or unlicensed practitioners, unsanitary conditions, incompetent treatment, infection, hemorrhage, disfiguration, and death... By striking down laws that forced women to resort to back-alley abortion, Roe [v. Wade] saved many women’s lives.

In addition, Roe [v. Wade] has improved the quality of many women's lives. Although most women welcome pregnancy, childbirth, and the responsibilities of raising a child at some period in their lives, few events can more dramatically constrain a woman’s opportunities than an unplanned pregnancy. Because childbirth and pregnancy substantially affect a woman’s educational prospects, employment opportunities, and self-determination, restrictive abortion laws narrowly circumscribed women’s role in society and hindered women from charting their paths through life in the most basic of ways. In the 35 years since Roe  [v. Wade], the variety and level of women’s achievements have reached unprecedented heights..."


Jan. 1, 2010 - NARAL Pro-Choice America 

Barack Obama, JD, 44th US President and US Senator (D-IL) and presidential candidate at the time of the quotation, made the following comments during a July 17, 2007 speech given before the Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
"We know that [women's health is] about whether or not women have equal rights under the law. We know that a woman’s right to make a decision about how many children she wants to have and when - without government interference - is one of the most fundamental freedoms we have in this country... I have worked on these issues for decades now. I put Roe [v. Wade] at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught Constitutional Law. Not simply as a case about privacy but as part of the broader struggle for women’s equality... There will always be people, many of goodwill, who do not share my view on the issue of choice. On this fundamental issue, I will not yield..."

July 17, 2007 - Barack Obama, JD 

The United Church of Christ, a denomination of the Protestant religion, wrote the following position in its article "Reproductive Health and Justice: Why the UCC Is a Leader in this Area," published on its website www.ucc.org (accessed May 27, 2010):
"God has given us life, and life is sacred and good. God has also given us the responsibility to make decisions which reflect a reverence for life in circumstances when conflicting realities are present. Jesus affirmed women as full partners in the faith, capable of making decisions that affect their lives...

The United Church of Christ has affirmed and re-affirmed since 1971 that access to safe and legal abortion is consistent with a woman’s right to follow the dictates of her own faith and beliefs in determining when and if she should have children...

We have also supported that women with limited financial means should be able to receive public funding in order to exercise her legal right to the full range of reproductive health services. What is legally available to women must be accessible to all women."

May 27, 2010 - United Church of Christ 

The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations wrote the following position on its website, www.UUA.org, in its "Social Justice" section (accessed May 27, 2010):
"Unitarian Universalists have a historic commitment to working for women's rights and reproductive health... We recognize that the struggle for safe and legal access to abortion services is one arena within the larger framework of reproductive justice for which we strive.

Reproductive justice means that all women have the human right to bear - or not bear - children when and how they choose to do so.

This includes, but is not limited to: access to safe, legal and affordable health care, comprehensive sex education, nutrition, parent support, family planning, contraception, abortion, and adoption, particularly for low-income women; bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people; and women and families of color.  These people are disproportionately and systematically denied their right to crucial services and the full array of reproductive choices and self-determination over their bodies."

May 27, 2010 - Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) 

The Episcopal Church wrote the following position in its article "Reaffirm General Convention Statement on Childbirth and Abortion," published in the July 1994 Journal of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church:
"In those cases where an abortion is being considered, members of this Church are urged to seek the dictates of their conscience in prayer, to seek the advice and counsel of members of the Christian community and where appropriate, the sacramental life of this Church.

[T]his 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church express its unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action on the part of local, state or national governments that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision."

July 1994 - Episcopal Church 

Planned Parenthood, a prominent national sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate, wrote the following position on its website, www.plannedparenthood.org, in a section titled "Protecting Abortion Access" (accessed May 27, 2010):
"[W]omen facing an unintended pregnancy must have access to safe, legal abortion services without interference from
the government...

Access to abortion is legal, constitutionally protected, and consistently supported by a majority of Americans; yet anti-choice
organizations and policymakers have made it increasingly harder for women to access needed care. Anti-choice hardliners erode access to abortion through court battles, ballot measures, and burdensome legislative restrictions on abortion services - some extremists even resort to intimidation, harassment, and violence against women and health care providers...

From courthouses to statehouses to Capitol Hill to the grassroots, we work to protect access to reproductive health care through education of elected officials, litigation, and mobilization of our more than four million activists, donors, and supporters."

May 27, 2010 - Planned Parenthood Federation of America 

The American Medical Women's Association, a nonprofit organization of women physicians and medical students, wrote the following information in its "Position Paper on Principals of Abortion & Access to Comprehensive Reproductive Health Services," published on its website, www.amwa-doc.org (accessed May 27, 2010):
"The American Medical Women's Association [AMWA] will oppose efforts to overturn or weaken Roe v. Wade, either directly or indirectly, as in the case of legislation which burdens access to the abortion procedure. AMWA considers all such laws and court rulings to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, and thus to violate medical autonomy and pose threats to the individual as well as the public health. AMWA therefore opposes all bills that require or proscribe specific medical advice to pregnant women, ban specific abortion procedures, mandate waiting periods, require parental consent for minors' abortions, and criminalize
assisting a minor across state lines for the purpose of obtaining an abortion. These and other restrictions limit access to abortion and interfere with the decision-making process, appropriately left to the woman and her physician. We will oppose measures that limit access to medical care for pregnant women, particularly for poor or under-served groups."

May 27, 2010 - American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) 

The Pro-Life Action League, a nonprofit pro-life organization, wrote the following position on its website, ProLifeAction.org, in a section titled "Where We Stand" (accessed May 27, 2010):
"Killing an unborn child is inherently wrong, and therefore can never be justified regardless of circumstances. It is no more just to kill an unborn child in order to avoid hardship than it would be to kill a toddler to avoid hardship. Because the unborn child is unseen, it is easier for society to condone killing him or her, though this is morally indistinguishable from killing any child at any stage of development...

In addition, abortion does not solve the deeper problems that have contributed to having an untimely pregnancy - problems such as low self-esteem, sexual exploitation, unchaste sexual behavior, poverty, lack of education and absence of moral guidance. In fact, the negative effects of abortion can actually compound these problems.

Finally, a society which allows the killing of its most vulnerable members, in the very place in all the world which should be for them to be safest and most nurtured - their own mothers' wombs - is incapable of cherishing and nurturing human life or valuing childhood and motherhood.

Because abortion kills innocent children, wounds mother and fathers and dehumanizes our society, the Pro-Life Action League opposes abortion under all circumstances."

May 27, 2010 - Pro-Life Action League 

The Republican Party wrote the following position in its "2008 Republican Party Platform," published in 2008 on its website www.gop.com:
"At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be made to work with women considering abortion to enable and empower them to choose life. We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives...

We lament that judges have denied the people their right to set abortion policies in the states... We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life..."

2008 - Republican Party (GOP) 

The Family Research Council, a nonprofit conservative educational organization, wrote the following statements in its article, 'Human Life & Bioethics,' posted on its website www.frc.org (accessed May 27, 2010):
"Few things touch on the sanctity of human life more than the practice of abortion. A pregnancy should not simply be 'terminated,' as if it were something impersonal and problematic and it cannot be without physical and emotional consequences. A child in the womb is a distinct, developing, wholly human being, and each time a mother decides or a father pressures to end such a life it is a profound tragedy. Abortion harms the mother as well, and deprives society of the gifts of the unborn. Nevertheless, our
laws rarely recognize this... The Roe v. Wade decision of the US Supreme Court, declaring abortion to be a constitutional 'right,' was without foundation in the text of the constitution and thus was wrongly decided, and we look forward to the day when this grave error will be corrected."

May 27, 2010 - Family Research Council (FRC) 

Americans United for Life, self-proclaimed as "America's oldest 'pro-life' organization," wrote in its mission statement published on its website www.aul.org (accessed May 27, 2010):
"The social experiment in abortion on demand, imposed by the judiciary in 1973, has disastrously failed by ending the lives of more than 30 million children while damaging the physical and emotional health of millions of women... [A]bortion is a violent deception that results in two victims: the child whose life is destroyed, and the woman who suffers devastating physical and psychological harm...

Unfortunately, the Roe v. Wade decision and its progeny have created a cultural ethic that views destruction of innocent human life as an acceptable solution to personal, economic, or social problems. Rather than respecting the dignity of each individual human life and seeking humane and creative solutions to our personal and social problems, Roe [v. Wade] has deceived our society into believing that the quick-fix solution of death is an acceptable solution."

May 27, 2010 - Americans United for Life (AUL) 

George W. Bush, 43rd US President, made the following remarks during a speech at the opening of the 36th annual National Right to Life Committee Convention held on July 3, 2008 in Washington DC:
"I am pleased to address the National Right to Life’s annual convention... I thank all the men and women in attendance for your commitment to protecting the unborn.

Our nation's declaration of independence promises that all people have an unalienable right to life. It states, that this right comes
from our creator. And that government exists to secure the rights of its citizens.

For the past eight years my administration has proudly stood with you to ensure that our nation lives up to this noble promise. Working together, we promoted adoption, abstinence education and crisis pregnancy programs. We have fought to ensure that US tax dollars were not used to perform or promote abortions overseas. We have worked to secure legislation that allows prosecutors to charge those who harm or kill a pregnant woman, with harming or killing her unborn child as well.

We’ve extended legal protection to children who were born despite abortion attempts, and we’ve enacted a ban on the grisly practice of partial-birth abortion. We defended this good law all the way to the Supreme Court, and we prevailed. The majority that issued this landmark ruling included two outstanding justices that we worked tirelessly together to confirm; John Roberts and Sam Alito...

For eight years we have stood together to defend the principle that every human life has value. I thank all of you for your support, and I join you in looking forward to the day when every child is welcomed in life, and protected in law."

July 3, 2008 - George W. Bush, MBA 

The National Right to Life Committee, a pro-life lobbying and educational organization, wrote in a Jan. 2004 handout titled "Reasons for Abortion and a Few Responses," posted on its website www.NRLC.org:
"While there are many things that society can and should do to ensure that women are never denied basic rights or opportunities on account of their sex or reproductive status, to claim that these rights require the death of the innocent is to undermine the very foundations of justice itself...

We believe in freedom, but absolute freedom, to do whatever one wishes without limits, cannot exist. If people are 'free to choose,' to harm or kill one another for any reason whatsoever, all live in fear, not freedom... [S]ociety as a whole has something at stake when one human being claims the right to kill another or to decide who is worthy of life."

Jan. 2004 - National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) 

The National Association of Evangelicals, a nonprofit organization representing US Evangelical churches, wrote the following position in its article "Abortion 1973," published on its website www.nae.net (accessed May 27, 2010):
"[T]he moral issue of abortion is more than a question of the freedom of a woman to control the reproductive functions of her own body. It is rather a question of those circumstances under which a human being may be permitted to take the life of another. We
believe that all life is a gift of God, so that neither the life of the unborn child nor the mother may be lightly taken. We believe that God Himself, in Scripture, has told us what our attitude should be towards the unborn. Several times it is specifically stated that He conferred divine blessing upon unborn infants. He also provided penalties for actions which result in the death of the unborn.

Therefore, we deplore in the strongest possible terms the decision of the US Supreme Court which has made it legal to terminate a pregnancy for no better reason than personal convenience or sociological considerations. We reaffirm our conviction that abortion on demand for social adjustment or to solve economic problems is morally wrong."


May 27, 2010 - National Association of Evangelicals 

Mother Teresa, Catholic nun and famed advocate for the needy, wrote the following in an amicus curiae brief for the Feb. 1, 1994 US Supreme Court cases Locke v. New Jersey and Krail et al. v. New Jersey:
"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts - a child - as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically-dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners.

Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign."

Feb. 1, 1994 - Mother Teresa 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church) posted the following policy on its website, www.lds.org, in a section titled "Gospel Topics" (accessed May 27, 2010):
"Human life is a sacred gift from God. Elective abortion for personal or  social convenience is contrary to the will and the commandments  of God. Church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange
for such abortions may lose their membership in the [Mormon] Church."

May 27, 2010 - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church) 

The American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a 2,500 member special interest group within the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, wrote the following information in a section titled "About Us," on its website, www.aaplog.org (accessed May 27, 2010):
"[E]lective disruption/abortion of human life at any time from fertilization onward constitutes the willful destruction of an innocent human being, and... this procedure will have no place in our practice of the healing arts...

[W]e are deeply concerned about the profound, adverse effects that elective abortion imposes, not just on the women, but also on the entire involved family, and on our society at large."

May 27, 2010 - American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) 

Bernard Nathanson, MD, late pro-life activist and former renowned abortion physician, made the following comments in his 1984 documentary film The Silent Scream:
"You know I think I know a little about abortion. I was one of the founders of NARAL [Pro-Choice America], the National Abortion Rights Action League in 1969 and for a period of two years I was [the] [d]irector of the largest abortion clinic in the Western world...

Since those times we have a science, which is known as Fetology, [and] has allowed us to study the human fetus. And all those studies have concluded without exception that the unborn child is a human being indistinguishable from any of us and an integral part of our human community.

In discussing abortion we must also understand that the unborn child is not the only victim. Women themselves are victims, just as the unborn children are... Women in increasing numbers, hundreds, thousands, and even tens of thousands, have had their wombs perforated, infected, destroyed. Women have been sterilized, castrated, all as a result which they have had no true knowledge...

Now the destruction of a living human being is no solution to what is basically a social problem. I believe a resort to such violence is an admission of scientific and even worse, ethical impoverishment. Somehow I refuse to believe that Americans, who have put men on the moon can't devise a better solution than the resort to violence... Let's all for humanity's sake, here and now, stop the killing."

1984 - Bernard Nathanson, MD 

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