The human right to life is a basic element of an individual’s freedom and a prerequisite for using all other rights. International human rights law recognizes that this primary right arises at birth, and international and local human rights organizations have established that prenatal guarantees must be consistent with women’s rights. The emerging trend of extending the freedom to live to the period before birth, particularly from the moment of the idea, seriously threatens women’s rights in theory and practice. An evaluated 200 million women globally are unable to use existing contraception, which leads to undesired pregnancies. In jurisdictions where abortion is illegal, women are forced to find other ways to terminate a pregnancy, and this tends to be done clandestinely and in unsafe places.
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Illegal acts cost the lives of 47,000 women each year. These attempts, often with ideological and religious undertones, are part of a concerted effort to deprive women of the full range of reproductive health services. However, they are essential to protecting basic women’s postulates such as the freedom to life, wellness, human dignity, equality, and autonomy.
The Fetus Is Not a Human Being
One of the most significant problems in modern bioethics is the question of the status of the fetus. There has been a long-standing discussion concerning the point at which a fetus has the right to be considered a human being. After all, it is not obvious from the outside how a human embryo at five weeks differs from the same fetus at 30 weeks and why the latter should have more rights than the former. The embryo and fetus are not capable of experiencing pain until the 24th week of pregnancy. Perception of pain is a complex process for which the rudiments of the nervous system emerging at 14 weeks are insufficient (Scott 10). The cerebral cortex converts the sensation of noxious stimuli into pain, which neither the embryo nor the fetus possesses.
In order to be recognized human, one must first be born because only after birth does an infant gain sufficient autonomy to be a separate living being. Between 40 and 60 percent of fetuses cannot develop because of genetic errors, so they undergo ‘natural’ abortion (Scott 9). Medical abortion in the initial trimester of fertilization is a procedure that is a ‘direct inheritance’ of biological processes already occurring in a woman’s body. Thus, an embryo has the right to live only if the woman is ready to give birth to the baby.
A Woman’s Priority Over Her Own Body
In the reproductive rights debate, the rank of the fetus has been at the center of analysis to a large extent. Women’s views and options have only been fully involved in the conversation since the 1970s. The main conflict between feminist sophists and supporters of life is weighing one collection of powers over another (if it is believed that a fetus or organism has any entitlement rights). Protectors of life claim that the embryo will grow into adults with extensive civil and political powers. In contrast, supporters of choice clarify that the embryo cannot claim the rights inherited in potential expected adult life and that the other natural freedom of the woman overrides the possible life and freedoms of the fetus (Nobis and Grob 104). Between these two assertions, there are different points of view. Some dispute that the unborn organism is, in a sense, akin to a rapist since it is undesired and forced on the female without approval to be in her body.
While others see the debate over women’s eligibility for abortion as a manifestation of the wider patriarchal problems of women’s disparities in society. The independence of a woman to make autonomous choices about her own body and its reproductive function is affirmed by international standards. At the same time, it derives from the underlying principle of the right to equality and privacy related to intimacy as a matter of psychological and bodily integrity (Nobis and Grob 104). Reproductive health disparities involve undiscriminatory availability of affordable, effective contraceptives and the option to have an abortion. Thus, it should depend on the female to decide whether or not to give birth because the processes of gestation take place in her body.
The Ability of Authorities and Religion to Influence Women’s Choices
The matter of pregnancy termination extends to divide society and resides as one of the numerous urgent moral and political issues on the national agenda. According to the High Court’s precedent-setting 1973 judgment in Roe v. Wade, American women have the freedom to an abortion up to the time when the fetus is made capable of surviving outside the womb on its own (McLean et al. 10). It usually happens within the 22nd and 24th weeks of pregnancy.
as little as 3 hours
At the same time, Texas, the second-largest state, has enacted a law that presumably bans abortion almost completely. It prohibits the termination after the sixth week, from when the fetus is detected to have a heartbeat. It also applies to those circumstances in which the pregnancy is the outcome of abduction or inbreeding. Moreover, it allows for suing anyone who allegedly helped a woman have an abortion, demanding a minimum compensation of at least $10,000 (Kumar 530). According to its opponents, many women do not realize they are pregnant in the first six weeks. They also claim the notion of a heartbeat is mistaken. In this term, there is only a lump of tissue that has yet to develop into a full-fledged heart as the embryo grows.
The Texas law is just one of many attempts to limit rights in states controlled by Republicans. Idaho, Oklahoma, and South Carolina also set a six-week threshold this year for a woman to decide whether to keep her baby. However, the laws have been blocked from going into effect by counterclaims (Mihaela and Goga 290). Numerous religious organizations are also trying to influence the right of choice. All religions are similar in their approach to abortion; they view the intentional termination of pregnancy as a grave sin, equating it to murder. Christians suppose that at the moment of conception, the human soul emerges. That is why making abortion is the killing of a child in the womb.
However, abortion is significant freedom of women, and its strict prohibition before the third month of pregnancy contradicts the constitution, specifically the claim to privacy. It does not matter whether politicians are motivated by ideology, an attempt to trifle with certain segments of society, or a search for a solution to demographic problems. Nor does religious ideology matter, which should not impose its principles and morality on others. All that matters is that women are deprived of their choices, often condemning the woman herself and her child to suffering.
Consequences of the Abortion Ban
People who are pro-abortion argue that banning termination will not be directly linked to a decrease in such procedures. They point out that the key role in a woman’s decision to have an abortion is not moral convictions. These are actually practical considerations: a permanent partner’s availability and willingness to take care of the child, reliable sources of income, and other social guarantees. When legal and safe terminations are not available, women may resort to criminal or popular methods of abortion, which leads to an increase in health complications and maternal mortality (De Almeida et al. 559). The growth of criminal and clandestine termination is the real direct cause of prohibition. There will always be unscrupulous doctors who will perform abortions in the most horrible conditions for money.
Many women whose rights are limited go to neighboring countries to have an abortion; some undergo ‘clandestine’ operations. An unknown number of women get rid of the fetus independently – for example, with the help of certain drugs. The abortion ban is also one of the main reasons for child abandonment. Moreover, even if it does not happen, forced motherhood is the most inhumane thing in the world and, above all, for the child. The behavior of a woman who is forced to raise an unwanted son or daughter may be far from desirable (De Almeida et al. 559). Thus, the mother may spend her life snapping at her baby, blaming him for his lack of fulfillment.
A woman’s freedom to safe, legal abortion is an integral part of her right to privacy and physical and psychological health. Laws regulating termination generally seek to control the ability to make decisions. At the same time, the criminalization of abortion has not reduced the number of those obtaining them. On the opposite, more and more women are realizing clandestine abortions that may endanger their health. Therefore, all countries should follow the example of those who have given women their reproductive health rights back through referendums, legislative and legal measures.
De Almeida, Natércia, et al. ‘Characterisation of Induced Abortion and Consequences to Women’s Health at Hospital Central do Huambo–Angola.’ Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, vol. 40, no. 4, 2020, pp. 558-563. Web.
Kumar, Anuradha. ‘Disgust, Stigma, and the Politics of Abortion.’ Feminism & Psychology, vol. 28, no.4, 2018, pp. 530-538. Web.
McLean, Emily, et al. ‘When the Law Makes Doors Slightly Open: Ethical Dilemmas Among Abortion Service Providers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.’ BMC Medical Ethics, vol. 20, no. 1, 2019, pp. 1-10. Web.
Niţă, Andreea Mihaela, and Cristina Ilie Goga. ‘A Research on Abortion: Ethics, Legislation and Socio-Medical Outcomes. Case Study: Romania.’ Romanian Journal of Morphology and Embryology, vol. 61, no. 1, 2020, pp. 283-294. Web.
Nobis, Nathan, and Kristina Grob. Thinking Critically About Abortion: Why Most Abortions Aren’t Wrong & Why All Abortions Should Be Legal. Open Philosophy Press, 2019.
Scott, Samantha. ‘The ‘Undue Burden’ of Restrictions on Abortion: A Feminist Bioethics Analysis.’ Sound Decisions: An Undergraduate Bioethics Journal, vol. 3, no.1, 2017, pp. 1-10, Web.