Despite the fact that abortion has been widely practiced by the whole of mankind since thousands of years before, it is a matter that still evokes deep emotions and debate. The very nature of the process raises the primary question regarding life: What is the true value of human life? Moreover, abortion is directly related to various issues including the right of women to manage their physical state, the responsibility of the law to protect the unborn child, the conflicting ideas of secularism and religion regarding human life, the participation of the father and parents in the decision-making, and the clashing rights of the mother and the unborn child (United Nations, 2001).
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In order to attain a better understanding of the issue at hand, it is mandatory to first perceive the correct medical meaning of the word abortion. According to Dr. Dorland, abortion is the premature expulsion from the uterus of the products of conception.
This definition certainly does not specify whether the process is natural or artificial. Hence, it is further divided into two main categories: induced and spontaneous. Spontaneous abortion is defined as “abortion occurring naturally; popularly known as miscarriage”; whereas Induced abortion is defined as “abortion brought on intentionally”, for instance, through deliberate carelessness or abortive medical procedures (Dorland, 2000). This essay observes the moral issues of abortion; hence, it is only concerned with induced abortion.
Today, abortion exists as a topic of widespread controversy due to a number of reasons. Firstly, the rapidly growing liberal attitude towards male-female relationships amongst the youth has given rise to the number of high schools and college girls undergoing an abortion. Secondly, the increasing poor population and illiteracy along with the availability of cheap illegal abortion facilities have greatly raised the opportunities for pregnancy termination.
Another reason for the increased frequency of abortion is the rise in the number of sex crimes. Rape victims are so mentally distraught after the crime that they are unwilling to endure the humiliation brought about by giving birth to an illegitimate child. The resulting increase in abortion by the above-mentioned reasons has certainly erased the value of human life from people’s minds, or rather it has modified their thinking regarding the spiritual aspects of an unborn child. It is this very fact along with the various religious beliefs that created the long-running debate over abortion. As a result, two groups of people emerged; those that forbade abortion, and those that supported it.
People who were in favor of the prohibition of the practice of abortion came to be known as pro-life, while those in favor of granting the right of decision to the woman in question are regarded as pro-choice (Abernethy, 1990). I would call myself neither pro-life nor pro-choice, but take a different approach on this matter. Due to the numerous social and health problems arising from abortion, mentioned below, I take a stand against abortion; but under certain circumstances, I am well supportive of the procedure.
Throughout the span of this controversy, a lot of research has been done on the pros and cons of abortion. Although abortion may appear as a solution to a lot of problems, it is itself a cause of many complications. One problem that has always accompanied abortion as a major one is the death of patients either during the routine or due to problems arising after the procedure. Research has also revealed that women who have undergone abortions have a higher chance to die from different causes as compared to others. Secondly, the procedure gives rise to a lot of physical problems for the women in question.
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In the United States alone, around 140,000 women experience instantaneous hazardous medical conditions after the abortion procedure. It may also give rise to dangerous diseases at a later stage of life. Some of these late-occurring complications include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and infertility due to various urogenital disorders. Moreover, abortion also creates emotional stress in many women.
They are found using alcohol and drugs on a regular basis, develop sleep and eating disorders, and experience unpleasant dreams and loss of attitude control. Often the stress is of such an extreme level that women attempt suicide in order to overcome their misery.
These emotional problems are due to the guilty feelings that originate after abortion as a result of the woman’s conscience. The roots of these feelings lie in the fact that the responsibility of the natural process of birth given to women is not being fulfilled, but is rather abandoned by women. Since the last seven years, 15 different pieces of research have been performed on the impacts of abortion on mental health. The results showed that abortion poses serious threats to the woman’s mental state. Another problem that arises as a result of abortion is its effects on the sexual life of women.
It impacts the way they connect to children in their future; as it is often seen in these cases that either the woman is unable to handle them rightly, or attains an overprotective attitude for them. Also, in the presence of a pro-life husband or parents, women hide their abortions from others, which eventually makes their life more miserable as described previously. Apart from these direct inflictions of abortion, the mere idea of the procedure is enough to produce dangerous consequences.
For instance, studies state that women are being murdered for their unwillingness to terminate their pregnancy. Statistics show that 75 percent of the pregnant women murdered are in their first part of pregnancy. Furthermore, girls are often forced by their parents or spouses to leave the house on their refusal to undergo an abortion. Today, our societies have reformed in such a way that it encourages single women to abort their pregnancies so that institutes like churches are free of the burden to support a single mother with no relatives. This notion certainly gives males a free hand to multiply their sexual relationships, leading to further accidental pregnancies (Forney, 2008).
Reading through these problems, the extreme consequences of abortion on both, the subject and the society, maybe quite clear to you. However, do not make up your mind yet. It is my opinion that there still occur certain situations where abortion should be preferred. For example, when a medical condition occurs where the presence of the fetus threatens the life of the mother, it is ethical to terminate the pregnancy at that time.
Other situations where I find abortion acceptable include the detection of extremely dangerous physical or mental disorders of the fetus, through laboratory testing. Lastly, a pregnancy that occurs as a result of a sex crime should be terminated, as there is a high possibility that the woman may be psychologically unable to give birth to and nurture her offender’s child. The occurrence of such an event may lead to consequences such as the woman being unable to properly bond with the child, or abandonment of the child by the woman. Hence, I do not hold an extremist attitude towards abortion; but I believe that abortion should be done only when the situation makes it necessary. Therefore, I can be regarded as neither pro-life nor pro-choice.
The pro-life group supports its argument purely on the basis of the theory that abortion is the termination of innocent human life. It is their belief that the journey of life begins as soon as the sperm enters the egg during fertilization (Abernethy, 1990).
I have based my thesis on continuous medical and social research and surveys. Therefore, I do not consent to this theory as there is no solid evidence behind it to confirm their belief. Some people believe in this theory while others believe that life begins at birth. However, it is inappropriate to base your theories on these considerations, as no one is absolutely sure as to when the spiritual life of a fetus begins.
Secondly, numerous religions, especially the Christian Church, take a staunch stand against abortion. According to the Church, God states in the fifth commandment: “You shall not murder”. The interpretation of this statement has been made as that it is utterly unacceptable for a human to kill another human being, and the Church does consider abortion as murder. Furthermore, Psalm 139:16 states: “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your Book before one of them came to be.” Moreover, the Church has stated that God overlooks an unborn human since the time the parents engage in the act of intercourse.
And since abortion results in the death of a human being, it is unacceptable to God, until a situation arises where the fetus poses threat to the life of the mother (Barry, n.d). So, although the Church does agree with my opinion of abortion being acceptable in cases of endangerment to the mother’s life, it contradicts my reasons that make abortion unacceptable. The Church bases its theory purely on its Holy book, The Bible, which was written in a time when no concept of abortion existed. However, at present, there are a lot of religions being followed by the people of this world, and not all of them see abortion as an unacceptable procedure.
Therefore, I do not regard a religious belief, which has no solid evidence behind it, to be a satisfactory notion on which such a crucial decision could be based. Moreover, in cases of sex crimes, the Church takes a different approach. According to the Church, it is wrong to kill the innocent unborn child for a crime that was committed by his father (Barry, n.d). However, it does not consider the psychological confusion, and its consequences, the mother would have to go through. The outcome could be worse than anyone’s expectations, as I have mentioned previously.
On the other hand, the people of the pro-choice group support abortion under various conditions, to which I do agree and have mentioned previously in this essay. However, a lot of people who believe that women should be given the right to control their own bodies differentiate human existence from personhood. According to these people, humans can only be regarded as persons if they have the ability to think of themselves as conscious beings, and are approved as a part of society.
Considering this theory, these people claim that fetuses have not attained self-consciousness, and thus cannot be regarded as persons; hence, not allowing them to have rights held by normal people. This argument claims that although the physical being of a human comes to be at fertilization, the person of the human-only emerges when the human being acquires self-consciousness (Lee; George, 2005).
This theory does not coincide with my opinion as it considers a person’s consciousness separate from his physical being. As I mentioned previously that it is impossible to conclude exactly when the spiritual life of a fetus begins, it is inappropriate to consider consciousness and physical being separately. A physical action performed by a human being is as closely related to his movement as it is to the thought that initiates the movement; meaning to say that both thought and muscles are simultaneously involved in a particular action. For example, an act to look at something involves both, the muscles of the eye as well as the desire of the person to perform that act.
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Hence, any human being should be considered as a single entity, discarding any arguments that claim that fetuses cannot be regarded as persons, and therefore can be killed. As long as it is clear that there is no solid confirmation as to the spiritual status of the fetus, I would never even consider approving the practice of abortion until the situation desperately demands it.
Some of the people belonging to the pro-choice group claim that abortion cannot be regarded as intentional killing. It is their belief that the fetus does have the right to live, but not through life support from its mother. On the basis of this theory, they further state that in abortion the fetus is not intentionally killed but is rather stripped of his natural life support system. Moreover, they defend this concept by comparing it to a case of kidney transplant; that if a person needs kidney transplantation, we are not obliged to donate our kidney, but we can if we desire to do it (Lee; George, 2005).
This whole idea is so far-fetched that it is perfectly clear that these people were in search of a loophole to argue in favor of abortion, and came up with this blunt theory. They have also tried to convince through the clever example of kidney transplantation, but fail to recognize two facts: that childbirth is a natural process that makes the bearer automatically responsible for the unborn child; and that the strong bond between a mother and her child cannot be compared to the bond between a person and his kidney.
Lastly, there is another group of people, present in the pro-choice category, which claims that the legalization of abortion would result in a huge decrease in the deaths and serious health complications that arise from illegal abortion facilities. The abortions at these facilities are performed under unsterile conditions by an inexperienced faculty (Abernethy, 1990).
As I mentioned earlier that apart from the religious and ethical points of view, abortion may seem to be a solution to many problems, but in fact, gives way to more problems; similar is the case in this theory. Although these people are right about the unsafe conditions of illegal abortion facilities, legalizing abortion is no correct alternative as it gives rise to numerous complications. Furthermore, legalizing abortion would modify our society so as to make it more prone to be subjected to accidental pregnancies due to reduced carelessness in sexual relationships.
In order to cope with the various problems resulting from abortion, mentioned above, it is mandatory to create an awareness campaign that informs people of the dangerous consequences of abortion, hence, enforcing them to undergo abortion only in extreme cases such as rape, serious fetal disability, etc. At this stage, it must be clear to you that the responsibility of nurturing a child is much less as compared to the health complications of killing one. Therefore, apart from some special circumstances, abortion can be safely regarded as unfair and unethical.
Abernethy, Virginia. (1990). Abortion. In The World Book Encyclopedia (Vol. 1, pp. 15-16). World Book, Inc.
Abortion Policies. (2001). United Nations. United Nations Publications. From Google books. Web.
Barry, A. L. (n.d). What About… Abortion. From, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Web.
Dorland, W. A. Newman. (2000). Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company.
Forney, Georgette. (2008). What’s So Bad About Abortion. From Silent No More Awareness Campaign. Web.
Lee, Patrick, & George, Robert P. (2005). The Wrong of Abortion. In Andrew I. Cohen & Christopher Heath Wellman (Ed.), Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics (pp. 13-26). Blackwell Publishing. Web.