Nationwide, 19.6 of every thousand, about 1.2 million, women between ages 15 and 44 obtain an abortion every year. In West Virginia, the rate is or 6.6 per thousand, or about 2,300 (Guttmacher Institute). Sixty-nine percent of women obtaining an abortion are poor.
Abortion is the most divisive issue in American culture. The two camps, each identified by various inaccurate albeit lofty labels, such as pro-life or women's reproductive rights, differ primarily on a single question: To what degree should government regulate the right of women to abort a fetus?
American political and social culture primarily divides itself between those who identify themselves more or less as liberals and those claiming to be conservatives. Conservatives generally champion the cause of small government and liberals the opposite. Ironically, in the case of abortion, the roles are reversed which rather demonstrates the proposition that people desire that amount of government which is necessary to get what they want.
Since the issue, for conservatives, is heavily charged with religious imperatives, it is explosive and sometimes accompanied by violence. Similar to Islamic fanatics, who embrace both violence and religion, some fundamentalist Christians have employed acts of murder, and arson to promote their goals. Conservatives also speak of the legal rights of unborn children and the suffering the fetus endures during an abortion.
Liberals see a moral side to the issue in that illegal abortions performed by unqualified individuals result in the mutilation and often death of women undergoing such operations. This was the situation Roe v. Wade(1973) intended to remedy. Others focus on the legal issue that, under the constitutional protection of equal rights, women should have substantially the same rights over their bodies as men.
This letter does not argue the merits of either side but rather urges that West Virginia maintain the legal status quo, which is somewhat inhibitory, and not follow the recent example of Mississippi which virtually eliminated the right to abortion in that state. (Legislation which will be tested in Federal court.) As neither side will ever hold sway in this argument, a quiet compromise is the best of all possible worlds.