No topic in the U.S. divides people quite like the issue of abortion. It combines everything that Americans love to argue about: religion, politics, women’s rights and babies. It’s been over 40 years since the ever-controversial Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade, yet the country still remains divided as ever over whether or not women are entitled to a safe and private abortion.
While there is not much of a chance that the federal laws that stemmed from Roe v. Wade will be overturned anytime in the near future, on the state level, abortion is still hotly contested in some more conservative areas. In some parts of the South, women may have to drive up to 600 miles to undergo abortions, something that is legally allowed to them.
Texas is one of, if not the, worst case of a state trying to restrict abortions. 2013 saw the now (in)famous filibuster of now-gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis trying to stop the passage of Senate Bill 5. Senate Bill 5, which later became House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 9, now in place, makes abortion doctors receive admitting privileges to hospitals in their area. This has caused nearly 50 percent of the state’s abortion clinics to close, because many hospitals have religious affiliations.
On the conservative side, we see the argument that abortion kills babies. Republicans, especially those who are of a conservative Christian faith, believe that life begins at conception and that it is the right of the fetus not to be aborted. They believe there is no right for women to have an abortion, because they believe the very act of abortion is murder.
Liberals believe that women have the right to have a safe abortion, and that it is not murder because the right of the mother trumps the right of a fetus. Many views differ as far as how late in the term an abortion can be performed and as to when life exactly begins. But they believe that it is not up to anyone but the mother herself as to whether or not she can have an abortion. They believe that even if abortion were deemed illegal, it would not stop the act from happening, and would instead drive the procedures underground and would make them significantly more risky and dangerous to the mother’s health. Pro-choice court decisions are considered to be legal victories for women, as they endow women with more control over their own health concerns.
As we move toward midterm elections and important races are to be decided in just a couple of weeks, abortion is still weighing on the minds of many voters. All these years later, with abortion still an issue that people vote about, we have to ask ourselves: why is there still such a divide?
It comes down to the fact that both positions are so strongly held (conservatives believe they are fighting murder, liberals believe they are fighting for a basic human right of choice) that there’s little leeway or changing views on the topic. Maybe these upcoming midterm elections will show where current opinion lies on the issue, but either way, abortion is likely to cause controversy for another 40 years.