Iowa City Stories

May 11, 2010

Abortion:Past and Present

Filed under: IC Stories: Vrba, Women's Issues, Iowa City Stories — TK @ 9:37 pm


The word alone calls forth strong emotions in most people, fueling political intense political debate and religious vindications. It has been in increasing debate, especially after 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, which made abortions legal in the United States.

The Debate

Many women’s rights organizations consider it a right to have a choice, including the Feminist Majoridy Leadership Alliance, and the Emma Goldman Clinic. The alliance is a University of Iowa student organizations which promotes women’s rights. The Emma Goldman Clinic is a women’s health care clinic in Iowa City.

The debate invokes the question, is the abortion argument an argument of morality or rights?

“I think it’s neither,” Said 20-year old University of Iowa Junior Katie Nicklaus. “It’s a medical procedure. It should be treated like a medical procedure.”

The Emma Goldman Clinic is one of the places in Iowa City where a person can go to get this procedure. The non-profit clinic was founded in 1973

The Emma Goldman Clinic didn’t respond to request for an interview. A letter from a supporter of the clinic and who witnessed its founding depicts her experiences on the website. “The idea of an “abortion clinic” in our community was not the way we [many of my friends and I] saw the EGC,” she said. “It was a women’s health clinic that would offer abortions as one of many services.”

The other side of the argument involves those who are against abortion.

20-year old Elizabeth Adolphi considers herself pro-life.  “The argument on abortion is about both moral rights and women’s rights, but i think its mostly about moral rights,” she said.  “Abortion is the act of a mother who doesn’t want her child and, to me, that’s selfish.”

Adolphi points out that a women can give the child up for adoption if she doesn’t want her child.  “There are so many people out there who cant have children that desperately want one,” she said.   “So, if you ever conceive through rape, incest, or sheer mistake think about your options and lean on the people who love you; they’ll help you get through it.”

There are also health risks to abortion.  Adolphi says that abortion does not just hurt the baby, but it can hurt the mother physically and sycologically.

The Emma Goldman clinic lists emotional changes and silightly elivated fever under normal side effects of getting an abortion.

The History

The United States Supreme Court made their Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Yet, abortion is not a recent phenomenon that has risen out of technological and medical advances.

Raymond A. Mentzer, who researches European religious history and is the current chair of the religious studies program at the University of Iowa, talked about pregnancy and abortion in terms of through early European history. “Women didn’t really consider themselves pregnant until it moved.” He said. This is because many women were malnourished and would often miscarry. They didn’t consider themselves pregnant unless there was some sign that the conception would result in a birth.

“[abortion] really wasn’t approved of, but it happened.” said Mentzer. “It was easy to find a dead baby,” Home remedies for terminating a pregnancy were common enough that they had their own euphemism. Preperations to terminate a pregnancy were sometimes referred to as “taking the trade.”

According Mentzer, the Christian argument against abortion is founded in the idea of ensoulment. “There’s this argument made that life begins at conception,” he said.
The issue he finds in that argument is in the case of identical twins. He said, “Only after conception does it [the fertilized egg] split.”

This splitting of the fertilized egg usually occurs within a week or so of fertilization.


Abortion has received recent attention due to its involvement in the health care legislation.  A summary of the bill on the CBS News website states that no state funds will be used to fund abortions.  Rape, incest, and health of the mother are exceptions to this.


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