Fundamental Right to Choose

Life. A precious experience. 

Existence. An objective reality. 

This experience seems taken for granted. Do you ever just stop and think for a just a second, I’m alive. In this very moment, I was given the opportunity of existing. I know I don’t. Except for now, writing this post. Of course everyone, at least once in their life, has thought, what in the hell am I going to do with my life. But those are incredibly different thoughts. One, you’re thinking about your existence as a living, breathing, being on this planet. The other, you’re thinking about your future. At what point do we become lively organisms? At what point in our creation is it determined that we have life? This particular question is hot off the debate table and is still a prominent topic of discussion. 

Depending on who you ask, life may begin after birth, at the moment of conception (fertilization of the egg), or at some point in between. Although the Canadian and American Government (in some states) have agreed to legalize the practice of abortion, they’re just as conflicted in determining the moment one is alive.

In America, abortion is legal in most states. It was in 1973 that the US Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide. There are however some states that are currently in the works to criminalize any practise of abortion. Furthermore, The United States enacted a law in 2004 called the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. This law recognizes that a fetus in gestation is a legal victim. Therefore, if in the unfortunate circumstance that a pregnant woman is killed, the suspect would be charged with a double homicide. The potential for that woman to give life has been taken away without her consent. Additionally, if a pregnant woman winds up in the hospital with an illness or injury, it is not one patient, but two who are admitted.

In Canada, abortion is legal throughout any point of the pregnancy. However, it wasn’t always legal. Before 1969, all abortion was illegal, until Pierre Trudeau’s liberal government legalized abortion under strict conditions: a committee of doctors had to have signed off that it was necessary for the well-being of the mother. In 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled all existing abortion laws to be unconstitutional, leaving Canada with no criminal laws governing the subject. Contrary to the American Unborn Victims of Violence Act, Canada has no such law in place. In 2007, a member of the conservative party introduced the Unborn Victims of Crime Act that seeks justice for crimes against victims of all ages. However when an election was called in 2008, all unpassed bills were cancelled, and the UVoCA was lost.

Of course, because a government chooses to legalize this practice, doesn’t necessarily mean the people who the government represents stand behind their decision. Many religious groups believe life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore believe abortion to be murder. Certainly, you don’t need to belong to a religious group to believe this. Many people believe that life begins the moment of birth, when the baby gives its first breath. Others believe life begins the earliest moment a baby can be born, and still survive. Also known as the age of viability, is the age at which a fetus can be born prematurely and still survive outside the uterus (being approximately 22-26 weeks and only under ideal medical conditions). All of these differing beliefs leads to everyone’s own reason to be a part of either the pro-life or pro-choice group.

pro-life. pro-choice. The two polar views of the abortion debate. Pro-life being against the practices of abortion, and pro-choice being in favour. That seems rather black and white. Having to choose one, with no compromise. Yesterday, I spoke to my brother about the topic. Of course, there was a difference in opinions but we ended up agreeing in the end. He believes that a baby is given life as early as conception and any act against the fetus is wrong. I, on the other hand, cannot be sure at which moment in time a person (or fetus) is alive. My belief is simple. I may never get an abortion, but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t. I’m not going to restrict someone because of my uncertainty. What someone else wishes to do with their body, is their own prerogative. I believe in life. I also believe in the human right to choose the way we live it.

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