Ethics in Practice: Abortion Choice

Abortion has been a subject of debate in the world with some groups arguing that it infringes human rights while others advocates that it should be legalized. Religious groups term it as being unethical and against God’s will. Based on these groups’ arguments, abortion has been described in many ways. For purposes of this essay, we shall define abortion as termination of a pregnancy by removing the fetus from the uterus of a woman thereby causing the fetus to die. It is the elimination of a fetus or embryo from the mother’s uterus.

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Abortion can either be induced or can occur naturally due to complications of a pregnancy, generally referred to as spontaneous abortion (AGI 2004). It can be induced if the health of the pregnant woman is at risk or for other reasons. In most cases, abortion is used to refer to an induced abortion rather than a spontaneous one. Abortion has been ongoing for a very long time and various methods have been used. Some of the ancient methods include the use of sharp objects and other traditional methods practiced by medicine men. Today, abortion methods have advanced and medicine and surgical procedures have been adopted.

Different communities and different people have their own view in regard to abortion. Some feel that it is a practice that should be legalized because it is of paramount importance to the practitioners (Roemer, 1993). Others like religious groups fell that it is unethical and a sin in the eyes of God while human right activists take it as an illegal practice and feel that the practitioners should be punishable by the law. Despite these diverse views, some nations have gone to the extent of legalizing it, allowing its citizens to perform it freely.

However, most nations belief that abortion is an illegal procedure, unethical and unreligious. Most Christian and Muslim nations’ belief that everyone has the right to live and none should be deprived of it. They argue that abortion amounts to murder and should not be allowed under any circumstances. However, others argue that the mother has the absolute right to make her own choice whether to carry a pregnancy until it is due or to terminate. This becomes even more complicated when the person involved is a teenager. These are people who are still in school and are yet to achieve their dreams in life (McConnell, 2006).

Early pregnancies may disrupt the teenagers’ life dreams though this can not be taken as a ground for allowing them to practice willful abortion. Two major factors are responsible for teenage pregnancies, that is, ignorance that drives them into premarital sex and rape (Roemer, 1993). Rape usually may result to unusual or unwanted pregnancy. Some argue that denying these teenagers their right to make the decision to abort in cases of these unusual pregnancies would be unfair to them. Parents, teachers, and society have a right to protect teenagers by giving them advice and proper education, although some of them go beyond what even the parent can expect (Kosunen, 2002).

No matter how these teenagers should be allowed to face the consequences of their actions, the question remains: what will happen to their future? Statistics show that more than 33% of all teen pregnancies are aborted. This percentage is even higher among younger teenagers than among the older ones. Girls under the age of 15 years have the highest abortion rate compared to girls over the age of 15. This paper is an augmentative easy that discusses the positive and negative effects of abortion on a teenage girl.

Part one of this paper looks at the benefits of abortion for a teenager. These benefits are based on the girl’s future life rather than her current condition. Part two looks at the harmful effects of abortion on a teenage girl, particularly medical complications and emotional detachment. Part three contains a synthesis of the main points of both augments. It is an attempt to draw conclusion based on the two arguments and research findings.

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The benefit of abortion

This discussion tries to explore the possible benefits of abortion to a teenage girl. It also indicates what necessitates abortion in certain situations where the rights of the pregnant woman override those of the unborn (Chigoa & Chetty, 2007). Abortion has been a contentious issue in most nations of the world, especially in the United States of America.

Roemer (1993) argues that Abortion should be recognized as a right because women should be given the discretion to decide whether they want to continue with the pregnancy or terminate it. In some societies, those women who contemplate abortion have experienced disapproval from certain sections of the society, especially conservative Christians. In the history of abortion and its legality, there have been many legal changes that, at times, have legalized abortion, while, at other times, the legality of abortion has been abolished.

There has been a continuous debate on abortion, though it is practiced legally in some countries. The main issue that is hotly contested in the debate is when life really begins. The debate therefore shifts from merely thinking about whether abortion is morally good or bad to whether the act violates another person’s right to life or not. Taking into account both the life of the mother and that of the fetus, abortion is, to some extent, beneficial to a teenager.

Teenagers are children under the age of 18 years and school going. This means that they are still dependent on their parents to provide them with basic needs. These are children who are enrolled in learning institutions and have yet to accomplish their dreams in life. Most schools do not allow pregnant girls to go to school, and if a girl gets pregnant, she is forced to drop out of school (Chigoa & Chetty, 2007). This is a common case in South Africa. This is not the best way to help these girls. It does not matter how they got pregnant but the fact remains that they are already pregnant.

Expelling them from school will not solve their problem but will worsen their situation because they are not in a position to provide for themselves, let alone the unborn babies they are carrying. It has been argued that abortion could the better way of solving this situation. This ensures that the teenage girl is able to complete her studies without dropping out of school. Abortion can even be performed at the early stage of a pregnancy when no one else (expect the girl) is aware of it. This saves the girl the ridicule she may have experienced had her peers known about her condition (Malpoet’s weblog, 2010).

According to Noonan (1979), allowing the teenage to abort frees them from any harm that may arise from a pregnancy, especially when the pregnancy is unwanted. This will also allow the teenager to choose whether she really wants to keep the child she carries or not. If a teenager is forced to carry a pregnancy that she does not want, she may refuse to take care of the unborn baby, such as getting medical care and eating the right food. Instead, she may opt to do things that she is not supposed to do while pregnant, such as drinking alcohol, which may endanger her life and that of the child. When pregnancy occurs when the girl is raped, it is argued that the girl should be given the discretion to choose whether to abort or bear the child. The common believe is that no one should be forced to bear the child of a rapist.

Given a chance, Teenage girls may opt for abortion instead of carrying the baby. For instance, when the teenage are not be ready to bring up the child, they may find abortion as the best solution they have at hand. Some of these girls come from poor families, and bringing up a child would be a challenging undertaking for them. At times, those girls from poor backgrounds get pregnant in the course of them looking for basic needs that their parents are not in a position to provide (Malpoet’s weblog, 2010).

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Some of them have been abandoned, and their only option is to use their bodies to earn money. If they get pregnant in the process, there seems to be no means for them to look after their babies, and the only option that seems suitable to them is to abort. Many babies brought up by teenagers have insufficient access to health care because some mothers do not have the time to take their babies for check-ups, while others do not have the means to do so (Colman, 1997). Having no other option left for them, there remains abortion as the only solution. They are completely unable to bring up the child in the current conditions.

In a case, for instance, where a teenage girl has become pregnant because of rape, it may be painful for her to be constantly reminded about the rape by keeping the child. Again, how will the child feel if, one day, he or she is told that his or her conception was a result of rape? This is a scenario that can cause a great deal of stress for a woman, interfering with her right to life.

It is, therefore, important to note that allowing abortion for teenagers does not just recognize the rights of the relevant people but also provides a legal basis on which the lives of pregnant women can be saved in the case of pregnancy complications (Henshaw, 1993). In the case of incest, abortion is the only option to protect the reputation of the girl and that of the family. A child born of incest is a constant reminder of the immorality and atrocity of the action that produced the child.

A teenager would not feel comfortable knowing that the child she is carrying is a result of the most violent act she can think of, that is, being raped by a relative. Some of these pregnancies may be a result of rape by the girl’s father or another close relative. Such actions leave the girl emotionally traumatized and may cause her to lose the meaning of life. She may become depressed to the point that she may even be tempted to end her life. Through abortion, the girl may regain some peace of mind, although she may never be able to forgive the person responsible for her pregnancy (Kosunen, 2002).

Medically, there are instances when a woman’s life may be in danger and the only way out is through pregnancy termination. In such a case, subject to medical examinations and a doctor’s recommendation, abortion should be allowed (Lee, 2003). It may be logical for a pregnancy be terminated to save the life of the woman. However, this may not be possible when abortion is blindly outlawed. Medical professionals may recommend an abortion but not carry it out due to legal implications, causing the woman to lose her life (Naden, 2007). Denying a woman the chance to abort is a gross violation of human rights with respect to the current legal status of the law on abortion (AGI, 2004).

Several biased arguments have been advanced against abortion, some of them based on fallacies that do not conform to the reality of the issues at hand. One such argument is the hypothesis that abortion may result in breast cancer. This hypothesis has even been accepted by some politicians. This notion has been disproved and can be viewed as part of a plot by anti-abortion activists to persuade women against abortion (NCCDPHP, 1999). The fight against abortion is historical, and most of the reasons advanced actually defy logic. Some of these reasons include the argument that women should be allowed to refuse to have sex with their husbands whenever they feel it is necessary so that they may avoid complications related to pregnancy, that abortion can lead to the death of the mother, and that abortion will haunt a woman’s conscience until she dies.

The harmful effects of abortion

Pro-life supporter take the opposite of the pro-choice stance; they are of the opinion that life is sacred and should be respected. They believe that life starts at conception and that the mother, after conception, carries a living human being who is entitled to the right to life. The mother is seen as merely the carrier of another human being. Some believe that there are some circumstances when abortion can be allowed especially when the life of the mother is in danger as a result of the pregnancy, otherwise, abortion should be prohibited (Colman, 1997).

Only a few support abortion rights in cases of incest or rape. When the issue of terminating life is concerned, they advocate that it pregnancy should not be terminated irrespective of how it resulted (LaFollette, 2002). Since no one can explain what life is and where it comes from, then no one should terminate a pregnancy. By the third week, the unborn child has already developed a heartbeat; by the end of the first trimester, the baby has arms, legs, feet, hands, and so on.

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The point of contention here is that the unborn child already has the features of a human being; thus, the unborn is a living organism that should not be terminated. In the event that pregnancy is a result of rape, the child is considered innocent though the act is evil and a crime. In connection to this, pro-life advocates argue that someone should not be punished as a result of another person’s mistake. They say that the act was a crime but the result was innocent (Kosunen, 2002). The child should therefore be spared because it is innocent with respect to the crime committed.

According to the pro-life argument, if a girl chooses to abort, she may be constantly reminded of the murder she committed. If a pregnancy is a result of rape, it is understandable that the child may be a constant reminder of the pain that the mother went through during the rape, and the mother is likely to reject the child in the future. However, they conclude that a criminal act cannot justify abortion because a child has already been formed and is living and has the right to live. The same argument should be adopted in the case of incest. A girl may live with the guilt of abortion and may not be able to forgive herself for the crime she committed. Abortion by all means insults the reputation of the girl and above all, it is a violation of the “right to live” of the child (Mattingly, 1993).

Most girls obtain an abortion not by choice but because of lack of an alternative. Some families threaten girls and tell them that unless they abort, they will be disowned. If a girl manages to go finish a pregnancy successfully, she may not be able to forgive her family for their violence against her. Other families threaten to discontinue the girls’ education if they choose to keep the pregnancy. Such a girl is left with no alternative but to seek abortion, and this cruelty remains with the girl for the rest of her life (Lee, 2003).

The parent is supposed to take care of and support the girl and not to expose her to traumas that may affect her in the future (Mattingly, 1993). It is true that an unplanned pregnancy may interfere with a girl’s career, but with enough support, the girl can still carry the pregnancy until it is due and continue with her education. Many young mothers remain in school and are very happy and fond of their children. The children give the girls a reason to live and have even influenced their lives positively (Henshaw, 2004).

Abortion does not, in any way, serve as a lesson to the teenagers about immoral behavior but it actually encourages these girls to continue their improper behavior. If abortion is taken as the only solution to teenage pregnancy, then the teenager will continue with immoral behaviors that lead to pregnancy because they fell there is a way out. They will still go for abortion if they become pregnant (AGI, 2004). This is likely to happen especially when abortion is legalized.

These girls are ignorant of the dangers they are exposing themselves to, which include increased risks of breast cancer, infertility, and stillbirth, just to name a few. After thorough research, Scientists have also found that women who have had an abortion have high chances of contracting cervical cancer than women who have never had an abortion. In a real sense, abortion does not solve the problem of unplanned pregnancies; it actually intensifies it. Teenagers need to be enlightened on the dangers of sex before marriage instead of being exposed to the option of abortion (AGI, 2004).

Even though anti-abortion crusaders have not really mentioned it in detail, some have argued that the maintenance of society’s population is likely to end up in jeopardy if abortion is allowed to be practiced openly. Pregnancy is the only natural means by which the aging population is replaced by future generations. In taking view of abortion’s long-term effects, the sentiments of anti-abortionists are understandable on the grounds that abortion will interfere with the natural replacement of the aging population (Noonan, 1979).

Even though death can occur in any situation in human life, abortion has been pointed out as one of the causes of premature deaths. Deaths are likely to occur when the person offering abortion services is not medically qualified or when the medical professional commits human error or omission. Often, a pregnant woman seeks an abortion without considering the possible consequences. A woman may seek an abortion as a right and, in the end, cut short her own life, thus hence ending her enjoyment of the right to life (Naden, 2007).

There are also other challenges that arise from abortion. Abortion has the potential to cause secondary infertility so that such a woman is likely to have no children after an abortion. The infertility arises from complications following improper treatment after abortion or due to medical misfortune during the whole process. The process of abortion may cause serious damage to the womb, thereby preventing the attachment of future embryos. Other problems include uterine infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, and cervical incompetence (McConnell, 2006). These are some of the fears anti-abortionists have regarding abortion.

It is true that issues pertaining to abortion are grounded in Christianity or, rather, religion, as opposed to the morals of the society as whole. It is wrong to state that all of those arguing against abortion are driven by religious belief and conservatism. There are also atheists who do not support abortion and would do everything they can to ensure that they do not support abortion, regardless of whether it remains legal or not. It is important that all of these views be considered (Colman, 1997). There are alternatives to abortion, for instance, the baby may be given up for adoption if the mother is able to carry it till birth.

Conclusion on research findings

Whether abortion is beneficial or harmful to the teenage woman, we should not ignore the fact that there is a hot debate as to whether abortion should be an illegal or a legal practice (Noonan, 1979). The support given to religious anti-abortion activists by some powerful politicians complicates further the question of whether to illegalize or legalize abortion. Assuming that the Christian Bible does not prohibit abortion, are there any other reasons that abortion should be illegal? Most of the reasons that anti-abortion activists detest abortion are based on religious principles. If the religious basis is taken out of the picture, then they do not have any concrete reasons. Thus, using a Christian or religious perspective to outlaw abortion would deny non-religious citizens certain fundamental rights.

Women of all classes seek abortions. Many scholars have wondered why women opt for abortion, especially in the U.S. where we might expect the rate to be low because of the high level of civilization. It is ironic that pregnancy termination in Western countries is higher than in less-developed countries. These are the countries that have abundant access to family planning education and contraceptives. There are many premises on which the debate about abortion has been based. The most dominant premise is religion. Many religious groups, especially Christians and Muslims, are historically known to be ardently anti-abortion (Naden, 2007). They rely entirely on what is recorded in the Bible and the Koran, respectively, but the two holy books do not openly discuss anything related to abortion.

The debate on abortion has become so heated that some anti-abortion activists specifically target the women who contemplate abortion and the doctors who perform them with violence. The anti-abortion activists have made it difficult for women to secure abortion services by harassing the professionals who offer the services as well as the women who seek abortions. It has also been argued that there has never been an unwanted pregnancy.

The proponents of this argument state that, when the mother does not want the child, she can give the child to a family that would like to adopt the child. Such an argument ignores the fact that it is painful to see a child being raised by another family when the mother may be able to take care of the child. How would a rich woman feel when her child is being raised by a low-income family while she enjoys everything she has? The psychological and emotional implications of this question are not addressed by the proposition of adoption.

Looking at both sides of the argument, i strongly hold that, for a teenager, abortion has benefits that outweigh the harm she is exposed to. Abortion has become legal in most countries, and it is now performed by qualified medical practitioners. This has reduced the risk of most of the dangers associated with abortion to a great degree. A woman can now go in for an abortion and leave the hospital without anyone even suspecting why she had been there. There have been many cases of girls’ dropping out of school because of pregnancy. Some of these girls feel shy about facing their classmates in their state and opt to stay at home. Abortion seems to be the only remedy for their predicament, as it assures them a better future because they can continue their education without interference (Malpoet’s weblog, 2010).

In critically examining these arguments, we find that religious groups have been concerned only with the rights of the unborn and forgotten that the mother carrying the child is also a human being who needs to survive and to enjoy the same right to life as the unborn child. It is right to argue that the unborn has the right to live, especially when the pregnancy has reached an advanced stage.

However, it is also important to look at the other side of the coin: what happens when the pregnancy puts a woman’s life in danger and the doctors cannot perform an abortion because they fear losing their jobs and facing legal actions for performing an illegal abortion? What happens to the life of the teenager once she is denied her right to seek an abortion? These are questions the conservatives have not addressed and seem unable to address.

Many pro-life supporters approve of abortion in such cases; however, the instances in which they disapprove of it outnumber the instances in which they may accept it. The issue of abortion can be answered appropriately only by the objective intervention of the law, which must serve to protect both pregnant women and unborn children. Again, not all pregnancies arise out of mutual consent between a man and a woman; some pregnancies occur due to rape (LaFollette, 2002). All women, and especially teenagers, have the right to choose whether they want to have babies or not. In a situation where a woman is forcibly impregnated and she does not want the baby, she should have the right to abort.

It is unfortunate that, even after abortion was legalized, there is still strong opposition to it and anti-abortion activists continue to ignore the fact that laws are sufficient to persuade policy-makers on the need to legalize abortion in certain circumstances. Anti-abortion activists have not yet recognized instances in which abortion may be completely necessary even if the pregnant woman wants a child.

A pro-choice advocate believes that the woman has the sole choice with respect to her fertility, including the question of whether she is going to terminate a pregnancy or not. The decision should be left to the woman with the support of the law, either through the constitution or other legislative measures. According to the pro-choice argument, life begins at birth. They argue that the unborn do not have the right to live since they are dependent on the life of the mother (LaFollette, 2002).

They are of the opinion that teenagers should be allowed to abort and that laws should be written such that they protect both the mothers and the doctors who perform abortions. They argue that the use of contraceptives and morning-after pills should be used to prevent pregnancy (NCCDPHP, 2004). On the other hand, when they discuss the termination of life, especially when the mother has a terminal illness, they support termination. They see no need to let someone suffer as she awaits death and continue to spend money when the end result is known.

While teenagers should have the right to abort, the whole issue is still debated with reference to religious beliefs and principles. Both anti-abortion and pro-choice activists have become hardliners; each side is firmly convinced that it is right. The proponents of both sides have not listened to each other’s arguments. In considering both sides of the debate, it is important to realize that each side presents some genuine arguments. The problem is that both sides completely and deliberately ignore each other’s point. The nation is a secular state; this means that the state should approach the issue by considering the population dynamics in terms of religious beliefs.

Reference List

AGI. (2004). U.S. teenage pregnancy statistics, overall trends, trends by race and ethnicity and state-by-state information. Web.

Chigoa, A. & Chetty, R. (2007) Girls Education in South Africa: Special consideration to teen mother as learner. Journal of Education for International Development 3:1.

Colman, A. (1997). Teenage pregnancies. Youth Studies Australia, 16(3), 8.

Henshaw, S. K. (1993). Teenage abortion, birth and pregnancy statistics by state. Family planning perspectives, 25(3), 122-126.

Kosunen, E. (2002). Teenage pregnancies and abortions in Finland in the 1990s. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 30(4), 300-305.

LaFollette, H. (2002). Ethics in practice: An anthology. Melbourne, Australia: Wiley-Blackwell.

Lee, E. (2003). Abortion, motherhood, and mental health: Medicalizing reproduction in the United States and Great Britain. Highfield: Transaction Publishers.

Malpoet’s weblog. (2010). Teenage pregnancy, abortion, and state benefits. Web.

Mattingly, R. (2004). In every pew sits a broken heart: Hope for the hurting. New York, NY: Zondervan.

McConnell, T. H. (2006). The nature of disease: Pathology for the health professions. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Naden, C. J. (2007). Abortion: Open for Debate – Group 4. New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.

NCCDPHP (1999). Abortion surveillance. Web.

Noonan, J. T. (1979). A private choice, abortion in America in the seventies. New York, NY: Free Press.

Roemer, M. I. (1993). National health systems of the world: The issues. New York, NY: Oxford University Press US.

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