Although abortion could be a very broad topic, I believe it mostly surrounds economic factors. On one side of the debate there is pro-choice, and on the other pro-life. While both can vary as to definitions, there is also a misconception that an abortion is essentially murder, and with stigmas like this, the choice to have an abortion or not, is not a decision that is made lightly. As I try to understand pro-life/ pro-choice, the real issue that seems to be at the forefront is “reproductive justice”. This is because, pre Roe v Wade, when women were fighting for the right to have an abortion, they were essentially fighting for equality in making decisions as well as the choice for what they want to do with their own bodies; meaning the prevention of pregnancy as well as the termination. However, it seems that these rights are not recognized as such, the focus then becomes “the want” vs. “the need” relating to abortion and the environment we are in.

According to IEP, a woman having an abortion for social or financial reasons, is not pragmatic, it is “deliberate” because “she wants to have an abortion by virtue of her bad financial and social background because she fears that she will be unable to offer the child an appropriate life perspective” (IEP). Yet without the woman having the last word I feel that this does not justify that the decision should not be hers. In her article Velanti helps to argue Pollit’s point (book), that women should be able to decide if and when the want children. In it she states that “the ability to control if and when we parent determines how we participate in society. Yes, women can be mothers while being lawyers or senators or students. But those of us who became parents after the widespread availability of birth control and the ruling in Roe v Wade were largely able to decide when to have children” (Valenti). The idea of this point is that, should a woman become pregnant she does not have to be a housewife (if that is not the path she chooses); or depend on a man or governmental help because financially she can’t provide for herself or child. The pro-choice logic here is based on “wants” and the quality of her life with or without children. And this could have to do with many factors: marriage, education, religion, culture, etc.

One of the pragmatic reasons I definitely agree with is in the case of rape. On one hand it is argued that “it would be cruel and callous to force the pregnant woman who had been raped to give birth to a child”… and on the other, the woman has no right to abort the fetus even if she had been raped and got pregnant against her will (IEP). I do not agree with the latter for the reasons given, that being “the fetus does not have rights”. The fact is that if a child is conceived by rape, then there is a high chance that if the mother gives birth and keeps the child, she would be fill with hate toward that child. And even if the child is given up for adoption, there is no telling what kind of life he/she would have. Who decides then, and where would the money come from to take care of that child? Again, this pro-choice decision should be base as a “need” mainly due to psychological impacts on the mother and child.

Although these pragmatic reasons are good ones, there is also the other side of the coin – varying circumstances. We are living in a world that is already overpopulated and this is getting worse. Hawkins partly attributes overpopulation to the effects of environmental crisis in “Third World” countries”. “A growing number of poor people are forced to make a living on increasingly marginal land, with resultant deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, or an assortment of other environmental problems further exacerbating their poverty and often leading them to repeat the process elsewhere” (Hawkins, 691). In it she makes light of the fact that a woman’s decision to abort is not always a good one because of improper access to do so, due to “institutional or social reasons” (Hawkins, 691). By contrast, The US is a rich state and women not only have a choice but also have rights to fight should her choices be denied. For example, most overpopulated communities here in the US are minorities – people of color, or white due to class or status. So in the fight for justice, “The Reproductive Justice movement recognizes that healthy decisions about sexuality, relationships, childbearing and childrearing are facilitated by conditions of social, political, economic and spiritual power” (National Women’s Law Center).

With all of facts that women should have the decision for pro-choice/pro-life comes with great consequences to them as well as the environment, it still does not make some conditions suitable. The true fact is that the environment is being destroyed because it is overpopulated due to environmental degradation. “Both EJ (environmental justice) and RJ (reproductive justice) reject any “solution” to the problems of poverty and environmental degradation that focus solely on individual choices rather than remedying the underlying causes. Improved socioeconomic and environmental conditions result in reduced infant and maternal mortality (National Women’s Law Center). One thing that can be done, starting right here in the US is “support the right of all parents to raise their children in healthy environments by advocating for the equitable distribution of green space, walking and biking trails, and playgrounds in low-income communities” (National Women’s Law Center).

Annotated Bibliography

The National Women’s Law Center –

The National Women’s Law Center is focused on advocating for women regardless of circumstance. This includes pro-choice/ pro-life decisions. The goal is that every woman has the right to have and raise children in a healthy environment, not one that is being destroyed.

One Reply to “Bodies”

  1. The point you mentioned from Hawkins about overpopulation leading to environmental crisis in “third world” countries is agreeable, but I think that is the case in more industrialized countries as well. I was reading an interesting article by an environmental journalist named David Roberts (you can find it here at He was saying that population and the environment are definitely linked. Obviously, the more people there are, the higher the consumerism. However, he wouldn’t call the answer to that population control. He was saying a big answer to that is female empowerment. The ability to access forms of family planning (which includes birth control, condoms and legal abortions) let women choose the amount of children they have. The second answer is giving women the chance to have forms of higher education. The combination of these two is called the female-empowerment package. This package carried the highest potential to reduce greenhouse gases later in this century, according to researchers.

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