The issue of abortion and its ready availability for any woman who seeks it is very controversial and has caused a lot of debate. There exist two positions – for and against abortion, which are dubbed pro-life and pro-choice opinions. The former defines abortion as a murder of an unborn baby. And the latter defines this act as a right of a woman to choose what way to take in her life. Which opinion is right and which is wrong? In this paper, I am going to try and prove that each woman has the right to decide whether to preserve her pregnancy or whether to abort it. So, any person (any woman namely) is supposed to have an optional benefit and to decide herself what to do with her life.
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There exist many opinions which define abortion in a variety of ways. In this case, all people fall under the influence of definition tyranny. (Alexander 271) This can also be called stereotypes in other words. If people are against abortion they entitle it murder of an unborn yet already living and growing baby (Joffe 48). If people are for the termination of pregnancy they consider it a feministic fight for women’s rights and against male domination. But this issue has to be viewed in a much broader sense, abortion is not only a right or only a wrong action, it is a complicated and serious decision made by a woman. This decision is usually influenced by a variety of factors that cannot be known by all opponents and proponents of abortion and which often cannot be defined by the existing legislation (Colker 82).
If we consider the arguments which pro-life opinion supporters maintain, these include the following. First of all, there are many religious people among abortion opponents. They believe that the life of a person and personhood begins at the moment of conception. Thus, abortion is a murder of a baby given to a mother by God (Enda 34). Furthermore, as far as an embryo develops quickly, at the moment of abortion it has a heart, brain, and other organs so it is a real existing and living baby. Second, another pro-life argument consists of the issue of responsibility. If a woman is ready to have sex and it is her free choice then getting pregnant is the result of this choice, and a woman is supposed to be responsible for her actions but not to cowardly get rid of an unborn baby in her womb (Head, 81). Thus, the supporters of a pro-life position consider that if a woman chooses to start her sexual life (which can cause pregnancy) then she is expected to bear the entire responsibility for everything that happens to her. Moreover, aborting a pregnancy at an early stage anyway murders a baby who could otherwise become not only a good person but also a talented musician, scientist, or genius in some other field. It is necessary to mention, that according to statistics, general abortion rates around the globe are different. For instance, in developed countries, where contraception is an issue under discussion and available for many people abortion rates decrease significantly (Bowers 28).
The pro-choice opinion argues that any woman has the right to choose what to do with her body at any moment of her life. Women, especially feminists, assert that by prohibiting abortions, we thereby claim that women are no one more than child-bearing machines and this is their intended purpose. On the other hand, there are other issues connected with this position. The proponents of a pro-choice opinion believe that a woman is a personality who is living and having a certain lifestyle, working for the benefit of society. Mohr questions: “If her pregnancy is unwanted why should she keep the baby?” (43). The pro-choice supporters believe in living in present and thus they support a woman in her decision for an abortion for the reason that her present life is more important than the life of an unborn baby which will be realized in the future. (Alexander, 272) Thus, any woman is supposed to have the right to decide whether to have a baby or not, according to pro-choice supporters. As soon as she is ready for motherhood she will choose to have a baby. Otherwise, if her life cannot allow her to do this, she chooses abortion and planning her future life (Pollitt 1).
The question may arise here connected with the following. If a woman is so purposeful and longing for self-actualization, if she wants to plan everything in her life, then why does it happen in her well-planned and scheduled life that she gets pregnant so suddenly? Why is she not ready for this if she chooses to have sex? Here we can justify a woman depending on a situation she finds herself in. Let us assume that a woman has been raped. She does not know whether her rapist is a healthy person or a kind of an addict, whether he is mentally ill or has hurt a woman that much that she cannot even think of having the baby which is an outcome of the rape (Rubin 31). Rape is usually a serious moral trauma for a woman and getting pregnant as a result is an at least equal trauma. A woman cannot have a baby which has been conceived in such a traumatic and hurtful act. In this case, I believe, a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy. Another situation can be the social and economic situation in a family. Even if a woman is not single, but if she and her husband have problems with employment, pregnancy and having a baby will be an issue of serious concern for them. In my opinion, any decision will be right because it is a very ill-considered step to have babies even if the family and economic situation is more than difficult (Sedgh, et al 225)
In sum, legalized abortion should exist as a practice for in some cases it is really necessary to terminate an unwanted pregnancy whether it be a health issue or a rape trauma or a social condition, or a psychological unwillingness of a woman to have a baby. As for the woman’s choice itself, it is supposed to be her right and decision (taken herself or with her partner) of what to do with her life and body. I cannot disagree with the issue of responsibility for the actions which pro-life opinion supporters argue. Any woman who decides to have sex should be prepared that she might get pregnant, and thus she will have to be responsible for her actions. But responsibility means different things for different people, and again, here the right of choice comes into effect.
Alexander, M. S. Defining the abortion debate. A Review of General Semantics, 50 (1993), 271-273.
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Bowers, J. R. Pro-choice and anti-abortion: Constitutional theory and public policy. Santa Barbara: Praeger Paperback, 1997.
Colker, Ruth. Abortion & Dialogue: Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, and American Law. Indiana University Press. Bloomington, IN. Publication Year: 2002.
Enda, J. The women’s view: The pro-choice movement has seen moral complexity as its enemy, but moral complexity is exactly choice must be saved. The American Prospect, 16 (2005), 22-26.
Joffe, C. Portraits of three “physicians of conscience”: Abortion before legalization in the United States. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 2 (1991), 48-58.
Mohr, James C. The Origins and Evolution of National Policy, 1800-1900. Oxford University Press. New York, 1999.
Pollitt, Katha. Abortion in American History. 279 (2001), 1.
Sedgh, G., Henshaw, S. K., Singh, S., Bankole, A. & Drescer, J. Legal abortion worldwide: Incidence and recent trends. International Family Planning Perspectives, 33 (2007), 106-116.
Rubin, Eva R. Abortion, Politics, and the Courts: Roe v. Wade and Its Aftermath. Greenwood Press. New York, 2001.
Head, Jeanne E. Does Abortion Access Protect Women’s Health? 19 (6), 2004.