Symbolic interactionism is a theoretical perspective that people use definitions, meanings, symbols, interpretations, and human interactions to compare themselves to others (Henslin, 2010, p. 15). Herbert Blumer, whom attended University of Chicago with one of the founders of the symbolic interactionism perspective, George Herbert Mead, developed one of the most prominent versions of the perspective (McClelland, 2000). Mooney, Knox, and Schacht explained Blumer’s theory of the symbolic interactionism perspective. According to Blumer, social problems develop in stages.
The first stage is “social recognition”, when the social problem first happened. The second stage is “social legitimization”, when the problem is recognized by the community. When the community gets concerned and starts to develop a way to react is called the “mobilization for action”. “Development and implementation of an official plan” is when legal regulations occur (Mooney, Knox, & Schacht, 2000, p. 10-16). There are many ways that people interpret the idea of abortion, and they often use words to help get their opinions across.
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Language is just a system of symbols that we recognize as a way of communication, and in terms of abortion, there are several ways to use language to make points to solidify one's position on the issue. The pro-choice movement is a group that believes that women should have to choice to have an abortion if they feel that it is necessary given their personal circumstances. The phrase “pro-choice” is a very strong symbol in itself because it can cause people to think in a more broad sense, implying that if one is not pro-choice, then he/she must believe that the mother of the unborn child does have rights to her own body.
On the other hand, pro-life can also be seen as a very significant symbol, because it also tends to imply that if one is not pro-life, they simply believe that the unborn child in the womb does not deserve to live. Obviously, this conclusion is not always true, but it is the implications that make the phrases such strong symbols. Each side of the argument has its own list of legitimate reasons why they feel that their way is the right way, but there are some words that they use that are demeaning and insulting to whomever it is that is considering an abortion.
While it is understandable that many pro-life groups believe that an abortion is a terrible way to end a life, the use of strong, suggestive words makes it seem like they are simply trying to make women feel even guiltier about having an abortion. Having an abortion is oftentimes one of the most heart-wrenching, difficult decisions a woman has to make, and some pro-life activists still feel that it is necessary to make the woman feel even more torn by comparing abortions to murder. This is probably the strongest, most symbolic word used to describe an abortion.
No matter what a group's opinion on the subject, they should not use guilt as a means of trying to turn people away from abortion. This leads to further arguments, and more importantly, it leads to women feeling even worse about their decision should they decide to go through with an abortion. Words are a very big part of symbolism when dealing with such a sensitive subject like abortion. They can be used positively, to try to enlighten a person on the subject, or they can be used negatively, to try to scare a person into siding with one group or the other.
Because there are so many negative connotations that go along with having an abortion, it becomes a very significant factor of social corruption. There are different types of abortion, therapeutic abortion, when the mother’s health would be at risk if the pregnancy was continued; elective abortion, when the woman decides not continue a pregnancy for whichever reason; abortion pill, which can terminate a pregnancy up to 9 weeks into it (Planned Parenthood, 2011).
Many people feel differently about the different types of abortion and there are laws regarding how far into pregnancy an abortion can be performed. The news and media cover the abortion debates frequently and often help to stir up some of the controversy. It was found by David Shaw, a write for the LA Times-Washington Post Service, that the media often favors pro-choice advocates over pro-life and “Columns of commentary favoring abortion rights outnumber those opposing abortion by a argin of 2 to 1 on the opinion/editorial pages of most of the nation’s major daily newspapers” (as cited in Wade, 1990). On Yahoo Answers, “Does the media influence teenagers to get pregnant and to have abortions? ” was asked and one of the responders, Ashley, replied that “…it does encourage them to be sexy- which then leads to sex and pregnancy, and sometimes abortions. But the media is only partly to blame; the main problem is the attitude of today’s society (2009)”. It is easy to research and find distasteful images and photographs from pro-life sites.
The ultimate goal is generally to convince a woman out of an abortion or to make people feel that abortion is murder. On the Maine Vitae site, mainerighttolife. com, there is a link to “Issues”. If you then click on a sub link called “The Ugly Reality”, there are 9 pictures of aborted fetuses from 8 weeks to 24 weeks gestational age (2010). It is relatively easy to find pro-choice images online, with a lot of the images including children and woman stating that they are pro-choice. A major issue for most people is the idea of abortion as contraception.
The Centers for Disease Control released a statement on November 27, 2009, “Women should use contraceptives, not abortion, to prevent unwanted pregnancies. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study showed that 19-25% of women who received abortions in 2006 had previously had one or more abortions” (2009). Religions often have an opinion that they provide as public knowledge on the abortion debate. In the bible, the sixth commandment is “Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13, King James Version)”.
The commandment is often used to explain why people believe that abortion is considered murder. Traditional Buddhism teaches that life begins at conception and the fetus is “as entitled to the same moral respect as an adult human being (Keown, 2004). In our research we also found medical doctors, citizens and psychologists that are against abortion. Henry Sigerist gave his interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath’s opinion on abortion; “The original text of the Hippocratic Oath, the oath that doctors traditionally take when swearing to practice medicine ethically, forbids abortions.
One section of the oath reads: “I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion. ” The modern version of the Hippocratic Oath written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna also forbids abortion in its line, “Above all, I must not play at God” (1996). With his interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath, Henry Sigerist, shows that people can form different interpretations from the same information. David C. Reardon, PhD, et al. also found that women who aborted were 154% more likely to commit suicide than women who carried to term (2002).
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