Ahhh...finally I can log in and contribute to this conversation
From the perspective of a non-religious, pro-choice female:
Issue #1: Is the fetus a person?
-Yes. I believe it is, in the sense that a zygote can only become a person and not a cancer cell, skin cell, etc. Its genetic coding and DNA all say "person." Thus, it's a person in my eyes.
-With that being said, "age of viability" is around 22-24 weeks now, I think. Yes, babies can survive very early outside the womb - but they generally don't flourish or develop normally. Michelle Duggar has NO FREAKING IDEA how lucky she is that baby Josie is doing as well as she is!
-the term "person" ascribed to a fetus only has as much meaning as the mother/couple imparts on it. That means, if the pregnancy is a welcome event, then it's a baby and a person. If it's not a welcome event, the fact that it's a "person" means much less.
Issue #2: does a fetus being considered a person make it NOT OKAY to abort?
-No. I follow the belief that YOUR RIGHTS END WHERE MINE BEGIN. That means, your right to free speech, for example, ends when my right to not be discriminated against begins. In this case, the fetus' right to exist one day ends where my right to physical, psychological, and emotional health begins.
-In a nutshell: the rights of the mother supersede the rights of a fetus when it comes to continuing the pregnancy or not.
Issue #3: when is abortion acceptable?
-in my opinion, anytime a baby isn't wanted, abortion is acceptable. The following are my reasons for this:
1. The obvious ones: rape, incest, severe developmental problems which will not allow the baby to survive outside the womb, etc.
2. Severe physical or emotional risk to the mother (YES, mental health matters!) i.e. increased heart attack risks due to stress of a developing a baby
3. Birth control is not infallible - mistakes are made, shots are missed, pills are rendered unreliable due to taking antibiotics, timing is off, or you're part of the 1-4% birth control fails for.
4. Babies are not always welcome - some people do not want to be parents, are unable to be parents, for a variety of reasons. They are not always gifts and blessings, and can easily be the "worst thing to ever happen" to a woman.
5. Unwanted children become social problems and a drain on the system. Lambast me all you want for this - BUT IT'S TRUE. Who ends up in foster care? Unwanted kids. Who is less likely to finish high school, end up juvenile detention facilities, and suffer from poor health in the long-term? Unwanted kids.
6. For all of you suggesting "just have your unwanted child adopted" - I hope you're all planning to adopt some of those unwanted kids. If not, this argument is invalid.
7. Religious doctrine is not important in many peoples' lives and doesn't deserve to be considered in seeking an abortion unless it's important to you. We don't all have to be Christian!!!
Issue #4, which is the biggest issue of all: what right does the state have to tell me what I can and cannot do with my uterus??
-First of all, it's mostly white men who control laws and policies in most developed countries. My fellow ladies on this board, especially the Americans, should be EFFING OUTRAGED over what is going down in Virginia. Forced transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions? Forced counselling? GTFO. You have got to be kidding me. Needless to say, no women were involved in this hearing that made that decision.
-I think at the core of the abortion debate is archaic notions of patriarchy, where women's bodies need to be tamed and controlled. To me, outlawing abortion is essentially the same as saying "women cannot be trusted to make smart decisions, so we'll just make it for them and they'll thank us later."
-I can't imagine anything much worse than being forced to continue a pregnancy that you DO NOT WANT.
-Also, it's none of your damn business what health-care and parenting decisions others make (yep, abortion is a parenting decision, like it or not).
In conclusion, I think it's very easy for anyone to sit on their high moral and religious horse and say, "well, just don't have sex if you can't have a baby!" but hell to the no. Access to sex education, birth control, and sexual health care are very highly correlated with your place in the social world; that is, your level of education, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and your age & gender. Don't tell me that we're all on a level playing field.
As well, I think people often believe that abortion is an easy decision. All of the evidence suggests that this is FALSE FALSE FALSE. Nobody *likes* abortion - what they like is the choice and respect for personal freedoms. I don't agree in using abortion is a method of birth control, but I also don't agree in pretending that all women ascribe to Christian values and have access to the same resources. For what it's worth, teenage girls also account for the smallest group of women seeking abortions.