Abortion Perhaps no contemporary issue inspires more heated debate than abortion - the deliberate termination of a pregnancy. Many have witnessed and experienced the bitterness of such a controversial debate. There are two types of people in this world. Pro - choice activists believe in the right to choose a safe, legal abortion. Pro - life activists believe that abortion is murder. Why is the debate over abortion so emotional? Some argue about the rights of the fetus (unborn child) while others argue if abortion should be legal.

The debate usually strays from these basic issues. For example, pro - choice advocates try to convince their opponents women's rights are at risk. Pro - life supporters argue that the rights of the fetus are as important as those of the mother, and that abortion is murder. 'Other pro - choice defenders argue that if abortion is murder, why do so many pro - life advocates fight against the most logical methods of preventing this so - called genocide - birth control and sex education?' (Reardon, 138) Another reason for the bitterness of this debate is that most pro - choice and pro - life advocates reached their conclusions about abortion very early in life, probably even earlier than they can remember. They were taught from previous generations that there was only one correct point of view. Many people have trouble seeing why others who were brought up with the opposite viewpoint cannot simply look at the 'facts' and be persuaded to change their minds.

Tempers flare when opponents resort to oversimplification because the issue is definitely not simple. According to recent public opinion polls, the majority of Americans (at least 60 percent) hold beliefs that place them somewhere between the two most extreme, or radical, positions on the abortion issue. Although radical groups on both sides of the issue may get the most media attention, most Americans have moderate viewpoints. Individuals in this moderate viewpoint may lean toward pro - life or pro - choice, but they seek to stay at middle ground. Most people feel uncomfortable with abortion and are troubled by many of the reasons given for having one but these same people are also uncomfortable with the governments's interference in a woman's right to choose an abortion, a right granted in 1973 by the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade.

Half the adults surveyed by the New York Times in 1996 supported the availability of safe, legal abortions while only 9 percent felt that no abortions at all should be permitted. Other polls show that many Americans are poorly informed about the abortion issue, and that they drastically underestimate the number of abortions performed each year - approximately 1. 6 million, almost one fourth of all pregnancies. 'In addition, most Americans assume that many abortions are performed in cases of rape or incest, or in order to save the life of the mother. In reality, only about 1 percent of the 1. 6 million abortions are performed for those reasons.' (Guernsey, 32) Choice is a central concept of the abortion issue.

Many women see the right to choose what happens to their own bodies - and when it happens - as a basic human right. This is especially important in cases in which pregnancy results from rape or incest, or when a teenager's life would be fundamentally altered by having a baby. Other people, however, point out that the fetus has no choice in this matter.