The discussion about abortion is one of the most intensive and debatable topics in the modern world. The supporters of the right to abortion adhering to a pro-choicer approach claim that a woman should have the right to independently make decisions concerning her body and the artificial termination of pregnancy.
In their turn, the opponents provide arguments against abortion, stating that it is a murder. This paper will elaborate on the thesis that a woman should have the right to abortion as the best ethical decision to ensure her physical and psychological health as well as to enhance or support her current social and economic situation, thus maintaining an adequate standard of living.
Women’s Health as Their Integral Right
Do women have the right to abortion? What is the point at which the fetus can be counted as a child who has the right to life? No one should be entitled to force a woman to maintain a pregnancy against her will. If a woman does not have the right to freely make decisions concerning her body, including control of reproductive functions, she does not have any real freedom at all.
The advocates of the right to abortion usually proceed from the fact that the government should not interfere in the privacy of women, deciding the fate of their pregnancy and the fetus for them (Sethna et al. 32). They consider that women should have a choice – whether to have an abortion or not.
In addition, it is noted that no woman should risk her health at the request of the law since with the complete prohibition of abortion, plenty of pregnant women would be exposed to fetal and childbirth dangers as well as to criminal abortions.
The opponents of the ban on abortion also suggest that in case the government is allowed to impose restrictions to ensure the right to life of each fetus, the status of which remains equivocal, then the matter can go as far as imposing compulsory regulation of the way of life for pregnant women (Biswas et al. 75).
It would be potentially possible, for example, to prohibit them from visiting nightclubs or doing physical work on the grounds that all this could create a health risk for the fetus as the future human being.
The pro-life supporters often claim that a fetus is already a human being. It is an already existing life, and abortion is synonymous with killing a human who is already born. They promote the pro-life stance by pointing to religion-based arguments that life in the womb is life.
Even if pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, killing it is not an option because it is close to killing a human that caused emotional pain. The pro-life activists often appeal to the public that the desire to make an abortion is the representation of losing human values and emotional deterioration.
Even if it is so, what about cases when the fetus becomes the source of danger to the life of the mother, and the termination of pregnancy can save the life of the latter, who cannot bear and give birth for medical reasons? Abortion conducted in a specialized medical institution is also an alternative to criminal abortion (Sethna et al. 39).
If a woman decides to terminate her pregnancy, in most cases, she is likely to do it regardless of legal, social, or moral prohibitions. The data presented by the recent studies convincingly show that in the vast majority of cases, criminal abortions result in infertility and cause irreparable harm to a woman’s health (Biswas et al. 73).
Rather often, illegal operations end in a lethal outcome. Even though it may sound strange and unlikely, in this case, abortion is one of the ways to increase the birth rate as only a healthy woman after an abortion is able to have healthy children in the future.
Speaking of the psychological health of women in terms of the right to abortion, one should emphasize that no one should force a woman to bear an unwanted child or the one conceived as a result of violence. This is likely to aggravate her mental health, which can lead to the most deplorable consequences for both a woman and a child from depression to suicide. The recent study shows that among women who obtained an abortion,
Ninety-five percent reported one week later that having the procedure was the right decision for them. Even among those who had had a primarily negative emotional response, 84 percent felt that abortion was the correct choice; among those who expressed any regret about the abortion, 89 percent felt that abortion was the right decision. (Rocca et al. 127)
It is essential to consider another side of the arguments, like those supporting the pro-life stance claim that abortion is the source of stress and significant psychological issues. Indeed, according to recent research, there were numerous instances of post-abortion nervous disorders (44% of post-abortion patients) and sleep disturbances (36% of patients).
Every one in three women shared regrets regarding her decision (31%), and in 11% of instances, doctors were forced to prescribe psychotropic medication to avoid the further aggravation of the psychological condition of their patients (“Abortion risks”). More than that, women who had abortions tend to visit psychiatrists more often compared to those who have not.
This position cannot be ignored because, likewise, any difficult situation, abortion causes stress. However, studies by psychiatrists have shown that the level of stress is higher before abortion than after it.
According to the official data provided by World Health Organization (WHO) based on information obtained from obstetricians and gynecologists, the vast majority of women undergo an abortion with no consequences for their psyche (World Health Organization (WHO).
A number of studies indicate that the percentage of mental illnesses among women who have an abortion is higher than in those who gave birth or who do not become pregnant (Rocca et al. 128).
However, these results do not imply the existence of a causal relationship between abortion and mental disorders and may reflect the consequences of pre-conditions for the disease. Thus, the question of the existence of such a connection has been researched insufficiently. In any case, the psychological benefits of abortion are evidenced by credible sources.
Social and Economic Situation
The persons who have adopted a pro-choice attitude towards abortion outline some extent of hypocrisy in the philosophy of their opponents. For example, if every child born is wanted by someone, as argued by abortion opponents, why then dozens of thousands of children are not adopted by those who insist on prohibiting abortions?
Plenty of children with congenital anomalies or chronic diseases are left in special institutions. As noted by Lopez, it seems that life-choice supporters are concerned with the protection of unborn beings more than by the need to improve the socio-economic situation of women as well as prevent it from further deterioration (516).
In particular, it should be noted that many women who decided to have an abortion are forced by difficult social and economic factors, such as the status of a single or uneducated mother, along with the lack of appropriate living conditions, work, and livelihood.
The pro-life supporters often appeal to the fact that born children become adults capable of benefitting the state because they get employed and pay taxes. Within a broader context, they may work on innovations, thus incurring the economic growth of the country.
However, they do not recognize the fact that to become employed or contribute to the increased economic growth; it is necessary to invest in a child’s development and proper education because natural talents are commonly not enough to become a genius. Keeping in mind the costliness of bringing up and educating a child, the right to abortion may be the only correct decision in some cases as the birth of a child is likely to become a great challenge.
For example, if an unmarried and unemployed 24-year-old woman who is barely able to feed three children for the state allowance will become pregnant again and wish to have an abortion, it is evident that her decision is based on the desire to ensure adequate life for her children.
At worst, all the mentioned children may be taken to the orphanage or another family because of the mother’s inability to provide them with food, good living conditions, and health care. The fate of mothers who gave birth to the unwanted child or were rejected abortion is hardly more successful than the life of those who had an abortion (Fusco and Andreoni 113).
Usually, they do not complete their studies and do not even get a secondary education. Such women cannot count on adequate work and create normal conditions for the child, depending on the help of social services. More to the point, they have health problems, and their marriage tends to end with divorce rapidly.
At the same time, the interruption of unwanted pregnancy is one way to reduce the government’s additional costs for social benefits and the maintenance of orphanages. According to medical statistics in the US, more than 1.5 million pregnancies are interrupted annually, and this is merely the official data (World Health Organization (WHO).
Such a number of children whose parents cannot or do not want to take care of is an unbearable burden for the economy of the state. It is an indisputable fact.
To conclude, the two essential factors in favor of abortion, namely, the mother’s health and her social and economic conditions were discussed. This paper may be significant for policymakers, abortion opposition, women, especially those who decide on their pregnancy, and other interested parties.
It was revealed that it is better to let a woman terminate the unwanted pregnancy than doom her to remain uneducated, low-income, and stressed as well as to create the potential for her child to be abandoned by a mother or taken by social services.
The right of a woman to fully control her body is one of the fundamental human rights in any civilized society. If a state acquires the right to force a woman to give birth to a child, then why not to force her to undergo female sterilization as the next step?
“Abortion Risks: A List of Major Psychological Complications Related to Abortion.” AfterAbortion, 2012, .
Biswas, Haimanti, et al. “Death of a Case of Criminal Abortion by an Unskilled Abortionist.” Dinajpur Med Col J, vol. 5, no. 1, 2012, pp. 72-75.
Fusco, Carmen, and Solange Andreoni. “Unsafe Abortion: Social Determinants and Health Inequities in a Vulnerable Population in São Paulo, Brazil.” Cadernos de Saúde Pública, vol. 28, no. 4, 2012, pp. 709-719.
Lopez, Raquel. “Perspectives on Abortion: Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, and What Lies in between.” European Journal of Social Sciences, vol. 27, no. 4, 2012, pp. 511-517.
Rocca, Corinne H., et al. “Women’s Emotions one Week After Receiving or Being Denied an Abortion in the United States.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, vol. 45, no. 3, 2013, pp. 122-131.
Sethna, Christabelle, et al. “Choice, Interrupted: Travel and Inequality of Access to Abortion Services Since the 1960s.” Labour/Le Travail, vol. 71, no. 1, 2013, pp. 29-48.
World Health Organization (WHO). WHO, 2017, www.who.int.