The issue of abortion has been an issue that has been greatly discussed due to the sensitivity of the act itself. It narrows down to the question of whether the life of an unborn child is less valuable as compared to the life of the ones who are already born. Different people have different views concerning the issue, some agreeing to it and some completely disagreeing. It is either one is pro-choice or pro-life. One could either value the life of the unborn or prefers to decide the fate of the unborn.
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In humans, a pregnancy lasts for nine months. This period could be divided into three trimesters, three months each. When it is terminated during one of these trimesters, this is referred to as abortion. Abortion is the loss of the fetus before it is mature enough to survive the outside environment (Potts, Diggory, & Peel, 1977). It may be categorized into two. First, it may be referred to as a spontaneous miscarriage, which could occur as a reult of genetic abnormality or trauma during accidents. When miscarriage occurs after the first trimester, it is called a preterm birth. The other type is the induced abortion. This may be caused by various other reasons during any of the gestational stages. This could be due to the mental health of the mother or it could be done in order to save the life of the conceiving mother.
Abortion could be defined as the removal of the fetus before it is viable able survive the external environment (Wicklund, 2007). It leads to the death of the fetus and occurs at any of the pregnancy before it is born (Potts, Diggory, & Peel, 1977). The World Health Organization categorized the fetal deaths into three categories. The first category is the early fetal deaths. This occurs in the period up to 19 weeks of gestation. The intermediate one occurs between 20 and 28 weeks of gestation. The late fetal deaths occur after the 28th week. Other categories are based on weight rather than age. According to Potts, Diggory and Peel (1977), the common intention of various parties is to define abortion as a loss of the fetus before viability.
According to Naden (2008), most induced abortions are a result of the social and economic factors. However, Potts, Diggory and Peel (1977) believe that abortion is a result of an unwanted pregnancy by either one or both of the parties. The difficult choice is whether to consider abortion a personal choice or to limit it to the sole reason of saving life.
The idea of pro-life and pro-choice leads to two hypotheses. Taking from the ideas of Potts, Diggory and Peel (1977), abortion is the act of taking the life of the unborn based on the mother’s idea that the child’s life would not be that which anyone would desire. On the other hand, the authors also argue that those individuals or communities who advocate for abortion lack moral discipline and are selfish. They are those individuals who have the capability of neglecting their own children.
Current Statistics on Abortion
In the United States, Abortion was legalized in 1973. This led to the rapid increase in the number of abortions and it climaxed in the 1980s. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the total number of abortions by 2008 to be 835,568. From the total number, 97.7% (808,528) of the abortions were taken from the 45 reports taken yearly between 1999 and 2008 (Pazol, et al., 2011). This means that millions of people have lost their lives and this has a deteriorative effect on the nation’s progress. From the 45 reports, it can be seen that for every 1000 women, 16 abortions are conducted by those between ages 15 and 44. In addition, for every 1000 live births, there are 234 abortions. Out of the total number of abortions in 2008, 57.1% of them were performed by women aged between 20 and 29. This group of women also had the highest rate of abortions. For women of ages between 20 and 24, 29.6 abortions were recorded for every 1000 women. For those between 25 and 29 years, 21.6 abortions were recorded for every 1000 women. Adolescents aged between 15 and 19 were responsible for 16.2% of all abortions in 2008 and the rate was 14.3 abortions for every 1000 adolescents. From the study’s assessment, the overall result in 2008 shows that the persons who performed most abortions were the adolescents of ages below or equal to 19 years old. The women with the lowest prevalence of abortion are those aged between 30 and 39 (Pazol et al., 2011).
Legalization of Abortion
In the 1960’s, abortion was illegal expect for cases when a women’s life was at risk. The Model Penal Code of the American Law Institute in 1962 had recommended the legalization of abortion when pregnancy was a result of rape. In 1965, the use of any article, drug or instrument to prevent conception was considered a crime. However, Margaret Sanger was able to fight against the disturbing high death rate from the illegal, botched abortion. She is an obstetric nurse and is against the idea of using abortion to solve unwanted pregnancy. She promotes the use of contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancy. However, the long drama on the case or ‘Roe v. Wade’ had been very controversial. Amending the law to pass the practice of abortion among women due to right for privacy had divided the nation between people who are pro-choice and those who are pro-life. The individuals who agree with the said law identified as pro-choice believed that it is just right for a woman to decide and control her own fertility. They do not believe that the government should take control or regulate the practice of abortion except for instances of health and safety.
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The pro-choice individuals believe that the zygote is not a human being. They believe that this only begins when the baby is out. Therefore, terminating a pregnancy during this time is not a mistake at all. Moreover, the zygote does not have the ability to decide what is best for it. Only the mother can decide that and this explains why abortion should be legalized and supported. Abortion is not murder. Another reason abortion should be legalized is because this would help to eliminate unwanted pregnancies. Unwanted children would only suffer more when they see the light of day. They will lack the privileges that any other child would enjoy. This could be due to financial constraints suffered by the mother or both parents. Eliminating the unborn fetus would give the parents a second chance to prepare enough for such an occurrence (Lopez, 2012).
Some of the leading pro-choice groups include the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, and the Pro-Choice of America and Feminists Women’s Health Center. These groups believe that the fetus is not a baby and do not consider abortion as a form of murder. Moreover, they claim that abortion is neither mentioned directly in the Bible nor is it forbidden. However, they understood that abortion should not be taken lightly and that women have to think wisely before engaging in this act. Even so, they believe that abortion is a religious issue since they argue that religious views should not dominate state policies (Naden, 2008). It is observable that the pro-choice ideology makes use of the term fetus or embryo to define the life in the womb but the pro-life ideology uses the terms such as the unborn child or a pre-born infant. The perspective of pro-choice women must have come from the stereotyping of women few centuries ago. This is when they only played the role of a household manager, responsible for the well-being of her husband and children. During the 18th century, women were deprived of their rights such as the freedom of expression. The woman of today cares and nurtures her offspring, and is a powerful individual capable of deciding what she wants.
Abortions would also help to save the lives of the precious mothers. Some complications during pregnancies may lead to death of both the mother and the child. Therefore, it is only logical that preserving one life is better than losing both. In this case, abortion would give the mother a second chance to live and have children in the future. Abortion is taking one life to save another. It is also obvious that the life of the mother is more important. This is because the mother would be able to give birth again. The unborn child’s fate is unknown and its life should not be considered more important that its mother’s.
The pro-choice altruistic view argues that the parents may not be able to provide a better future for the child due to lack of interest in parenting or lack of time for a child (or both). The group of pro-choice advocates tends to focus on individuals who do not have plans of having a child due to the future implications of having an unwanted child. It would sometimes be right to kill an innocent person for the sake of prevention of some negative effect (Lee, 2010).
On the other hand, the individuals who strongly disagree with the decision by ‘Roe v. Wade’ identify themselves as pro-life. They believed that the practice of abortion is morally wrong because it causes death to a human being (Naden, 2008). According to Hadley (1997), abortion is a moral issue and it is associated with the ethics of life and death. Technically, a fetus is still human with its own independent existence and moral rights just as any other human being (Beckwith, 2007). Therefore, Hadley explained that abortion is still a form of murder. According to Solinger, the significance of a woman’s pregnancy varies depending on the woman’s age, the area where she lives, the woman’s socioeconomic status, cultural background, and the period (Lopez, 2012).
According to Lopez (2012), one of the consequences of this new trend was associated with the lack of attention to the children as their mother spent most of their time at work. This had compromised the time that should be spent as one cares for the children. Moreover, the lack of the attachment between the child and the parents (especially the mother) leads to lack of self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, anger issues and other attention-deficit behavioral issues. Lopez (2012) added that there are also physical predicaments that arise from the lack of maternal vigilance such as child battery, child sexual molestation, verbal abuse and lack of awareness of dangerous situations (early exposure to vices or certain kind of addiction and so on).
According to previous editions of Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner (2005), the dictatorship of Romania’s leader, Nicolae Ceauşescu, entails the banning of abortion unless a mother gives birth to more than four children. Increasing Romania’s population was getting successful. However, by the time Nicolae’s dictatorship fell, the number of crimes increase, the performance of students in schools dropped and the citizen’s lifestyles worsened. The individuals behind the protest against the leader’s dictatorship were those aged between 13 and 20 (Levitt & Dubner, 2005). The authors argue that this incident would not have occurred if abortion were not banned. It is similar to the one in the United States when the law about ‘Roe v Wade’ was imposed. This is because the rate of crime dropped significantly (according to some researchers) and this was brought about by the right of the women to choose to terminate a pregnancy whenever they desired. The pro-choice ideology prefers the retaining of the law as is gives rights to the women to make their own choices. For this group, abortion is not the same as killing but is necessary to prevent the possible effects of the unpreparedness from the responsibility of parenting. They believe that these children would be deprived of the good things.
The study by Addles and Andrews (2010) argues that Reardon’s concept of post-abortion syndrome does not exist. Reardon mentioned that the preference for boys in rural areas of China had led to infanticide and selective abortion of female unborn children (Napier, 2011). This had a great impact on the women’s self-worth. Morgan, Evan, Peter and Currie (1997) added that the prevalence for induced abortion had significantly increased the risk of abortion and suicidal ideation due to unresolved grief and depression. Dadlez and Andrews (2010) enumerated post-abortion syndrome to include guilt, anxiety, psychological numbing, depression, suicidal ideation, anniversary syndrome, re-experiencing the act of abortion, preoccupation with conceiving again, concern over fertility and childbearing issues. Moreover, the impact of abortion may also cause disruption of the bonding process with present or future children. It may also lead to survival guilt, potential eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, self-punishing or self-degrading acts or behaviors, and brief reactive psychosis (Harris, 2012).
Lopez (2012) expounds that pro-life has two main approaches. These include the moral perspective and the religious perspective. The religious perspective of pro-life does not have much debate for the reason that it is concerned with an individual’s belief in a Supreme Being. The debate revolves around the moral action applied to an unborn child. The most controversial issue is the issue concerning whether the unborn child is human. Pro-life individuals argue that life does not necessarily begin on the onset of birth or when quickening is felt. The moment the sperm cell and egg cell meet, they fertilize and this marks the beginning of conception. Therefore, it marks the beginning of life. Naden (2008) quotes the late President Ronald Reagan when he said, “the real question today is not when human begins but what the value of human life is. The real question is whether that tiny human life had a God-given right to be protected by law – the same right we will all have” (p. 30-31). This question has made people reconsider what they really value. The pro-choice women do not believe that the unborn has rights to live.
Based on the argument that Lee (2010) presented in his book, “Intentionally killing of an innocent person is always morally wrong” (p. 1). As Lee further explained, he mentioned that there are three ways to challenge this argument. First, one might deny the second premise by denying that what was killed was a human being or not. Second, one might deny the second premise that abortion is not intentionally killing and that the action is not morally wrong. Third, one might deny the first premise through consequentialism approach. No one had concretely defined the start of human life, which is indeed impossible for us to know. This dilemma has been the question of morality of the practice of abortion.
Pro-life and pro-choice have their respective stands regarding the issue of abortion. The question is whether to terminate or keep the pregnancy. The pro-life individuals prefer to preserve the life of the unborn because they believe that life begins during conception. This means that the embryo and fetus are equal to any human being. On the other hand, the pro-choice individuals believe that abortion is the answer to many problems. They see it as a way of saving the life of the mother during complications and also a way of avoiding unwanted babies. The question of whether to legalize abortion or not is one that may not find answers soon since both schools of thoughts have reasons that are worth considering.
Beckwith, F. (2007). Defending life: A moral and legal case against abortion choice. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dadlez, E., & Andrews, W. (2010). Post-Abortion syndrome: Creating an affliction. Bioethics, 24(9), 445–452.
Hadley, J. (1997). Abortion. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Harris, R. (2012). Epidemiology of chronic disease. Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Learning.
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Lee, P. (2010). Abortion & unborn human life (2nd Ed). Pittsboro: The Catholic University of America Press.
Levitt, S. D., & Dubner, S. J. (2005). Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
Lopez, R. (2012). Perspectives on abortion: Pro-Choice, pro-life, and what lies in between. European Journal of Social Sciences, 27(4), 511-517.
Morgan, C., Evan, M., Peter, J., & Currie, C. (1997). Mental health may deteriorate asa direct effect of induced abortion. BMJ, 314(7084), 902-903.
Naden, C. (2008). Abortion. Tarrytown: Marshall Cavendish Corporation.
Napier, S. (Ed.). (2011). Persons, moral worth, and embryos: A critical analysis of pro-choice arguments. New York: Springer Publishing.
Pazol, K., Zane, S., Parker, W., Hall, L., Berg, C., & Cook, D. (2011). Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2008. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 60 (SS-15), 1-42.
Potts, M., Diggory, P., & Peel, J. (1977). Abortion. New York: Cambridge University Press.