Abortion is a term used to refer to pregnancy termination. The abortion process involves the removal of the fetus from the uterus. Abortion can be aided or it can occur spontaneously following pregnancy or health complications of a pregnant woman. Spontaneous abortion is medically termed as a miscarriage; while abortion is commonly used to refer to an induced removal of a fetus or embryo from the womb.
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The abortion debate has been one of the major arguments in most parts of the world. The debate has led to three types of groups. There are anti-abortionists who will not support it whatever the circumstances; there are also those who are absolutely pro-abortion; and the last group consists of liberals. The liberal people are those who believe in the freedom of choice. They do not support either side of the argument. The debate on abortion has been based on whether it should be legalized or illegalized. The pro-abortionists have been drumming up support for the legalization of abortion while the anti-abortionists want it to be illegalized.
In some countries, especially the secular ones led by the United States of America, abortion has been legalized through such countries still experiences the pressure of anti-abortionists. In others, abortion still remains illegal; these countries are mostly those that are ruled by Islamic laws and those whose leaders are personally guided by Christian principles. This is justified by the discussions of Carr and Freud (1995).
The Pro-Abortion Case
Considering both sides of the arguments, it is important to note that there are genuine cases for discouraging abortion as argued by Condit (1994) and there are also genuine cases in which abortion should be allowed to take place as justified by Koster (2003). Those arguing against abortion are driven by certain ideologies and beliefs that are able to convince. The principles of most religious groups forbid abortion. These principles are mostly drawn from the Muslim and Christian religious groups. Some of the reasons some people are anti-abortionists include; health risks, possible infertility, pre-existing psychiatry sicknesses, lack of social support and the conservatives also believe that abortion leads to constant negative feelings after the abortion.
However, it is important to note that some of the anti-abortionists can be said to lack rationality when it comes to a deeper compression of abortion. They have argued that the fetus or the embryo is considered as a full human being and has all human rights, especially the right to live. Such an argument is supported by the work of Smith (2007). This kind of argument is oblivious to the fact that the lives of both the gravida and the fetus or the embryo depend on each other.
Whatever affects the pregnant female may have adverse effects on the embryo or the fetus. This argument is supported by the work of Zavaleta and Salinas (2009). Noteworthy is the fact that there are circumstances in which the life of the pregnant woman may be in danger due to the pregnancy. In some situations, a pregnant woman’s life may be in danger and can only be saved by induced abortion. The fetus may still be unable to survive outside the woman.
The reality here is that either the abortion is avoided so that both the life of the mother and that of the fetus are lost and, both the mother and the fetus lose their lives. It will beat the logic if the pregnancy is not terminated on the grounds of genuine reason thereby letting both lives be lost. The life of a pregnant woman should always be prioritized over that of the fetus. The reason is that whether the fetus is male or female it will take years for it to be able to procreate. Notwithstanding any other possible negative effects of induced abortion, saving the life of a pregnant woman by inducing an abortion, actually presents the woman with another opportunity to get pregnant and safely be delivered of another child.
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There are so many other convincing reasons that require abortion to be legalized. There are cases where vulnerable girls are subject to incest. They can be forced into sex either by their fathers or any other close male relative as argued by Flowers (2001).
Again, women are always subject to rape. There have been so many rape cases that have resulted in victims getting pregnant. All these cases are traumatizing and sometimes can lead to mental and emotional stress which may ultimately lead to death. In most parts of society, incest is taboo and the women who get pregnant by means of incest always face social disapproval even if they are innocent. As for the case of rape, it is even more emotionally dangerous for a woman who never wants to get pregnant to be impregnated through rape. Rae (2000) justifies that such pregnancies should be aborted. Even in cases where a woman may want to have a child, it will only be right for such a woman to get pregnant in a normally approved way.
Laws against abortion will never stop abortion; this sentiment is supported by the arguments of Ferree (2003). The decision by women to undertake abortion is never easy and in some instances very scary. However, women still make the decision. Most women decide on abortion when they feel absolutely necessary. Sometimes they may not even need the approval of the registered medical doctors; medical doctors will only recommend abortion on the basis of the health of the pregnant woman.
It is logical to argue that illegalizing abortion will not stop pregnant women from seeking the services of abortion. In such scenarios, the registered medical doctors may not aid abortion; this leaves the women with the alternative of seeking the services of those who may not even be qualified doctors hence exposing their lives to many dangers. Legal abortion, therefore, protects the lives of pregnant women. It allows the women to seek the services of legal professional medical practitioners. They will not have to secretly go to unqualified practitioners who are always known to take advantage of such situations.
With the current economic situation, it is important that families have children they can take care of. It is, therefore, appropriate for abortion to be used as part of family planning strategies based on qualified medical practitioners’ approval; this argument is supported by the statements of Chandrasekhar (1974). There are other cases where a wife can get pregnant without planning for it. In this case, legal abortion offers such a woman and her husband to decide whether they should keep the baby or procure an abortion.
Amongst teenage girls there are likely to be pregnancies; this happens even where necessary precautions are taken. Illegalizing abortion will mean that such teenagers carry their pregnancies to full term. It is worth noting that most teenagers still depend on their parents who may have been trying hard to avoid another child; when such teenagers present to their parents another child, it beats the logic of family planning by parents. Furthermore, illegalizing abortion will appear discriminatory. Rich and financially able women will travel to countries where abortion is legal to abort, while the poor and financially challenged women will be left to seek the services of unqualified doctors.
Legalizing abortion will present all women with equal opportunities to decide on their pregnancy statuses. There are existing laws that protect individuals’ privacy. Pregnancy is part of a woman’s privacy and should be protected. Illegalizing abortion is part of interference with a woman’s privacy. This means the government forces women to carry children even if they do not want, or when such pregnancies arise from anti-social behaviors. So legalizing abortion will ensure that women’s privacies are protected, this is according to the arguments of Pilpel (1974).
Legalizing abortion does not mean that every pregnant woman will be forced to abort. The fact is, legalizing abortion only exists for women who may feel it is appropriate for them to carry out an abortion. Those who fight against abortion are free themselves to avoid abortion, but to pretend to be fighting for the lives of the unborn and being oblivious of the lives of the pregnant women is to infringe the rights choice for of other people.
It is clear, that legal abortion lets a woman decide at the individual level on whether she wants an abortion or not. In fact, the law should always recognize that the life of a woman is more important than a fetus. This means, in a case where pregnancy decisions are to be made, the impacts such a pregnancy may have on a woman’s life or health must be evaluated first.
There is also another area that has not been debated extensively. There are instances where a fetus may be seriously deformed. The fetus may later survive as an individual with serious deformation. In this case, upon a qualified doctor’s examination, the woman should be allowed to abort, but this is not possible when abortion is illegalized.
The abortion issue will still remain a hotly contested debate. It is crucial for anti-abortionists to consider both the life of a pregnant woman and that of the fetus. It cannot be argued that all cases of abortion are genuine. The laws legalizing abortion have, in many cases, presented an opportunity for abuse by some pregnant women. This is the ground on which anti-abortionists should argue. As much as abortion should remain legal in the United States of America, other parts of the world and should be legalized was it not legal, the government should ensure that there are measures in place to check on the possibilities of misusing abortion rights.
It is important to note that legalized abortion protects life than when it is illegalized. The question of protecting life should not be based only on the fetus and forgetting that the pregnant woman also has life to be protected. Abortion is appropriate for a pregnant woman in cases where it results from incest, rape and where a pregnancy arises and a family does not want to have the child. It is also appropriate where a qualified doctor reveals some serious deformity of the fetus upon a thorough examination. It is also important to note that illegalizing abortion will be a form of government control on women’s privacy.
It will also contravene individual privacy laws that have already been established. Women should be left to decide on the fate of their pregnancy subject to certain conditions by legal statutes. This eliminates discrimination that may arise. Legal abortion also ensures that unqualified doctors do not take advantage and women’s desperate situations and endanger their lives (Pilpel, 1974).
Carr, P & Freund, K 1995. The Medical care of women. New York: Saunders.
Chandrasekhar, S., 1974. Abortion in a crowded world: the problem of abortion with special reference to India. Great Britain: Taylor & Francis.
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Condit, C., 1994. Decoding abortion rhetoric: communicating social change. Illinois: University of Illinois Press.
Ferree, M., 2002. Shaping abortion discourse: democracy and the public sphere in Germany and the United States. London: Cambridge University Press.
Flowers, R., 2001. Runaway kids and teenage prostitution: America’s lost, abandoned, and sexually exploited children. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Pilpel, F et al 1974. Abortion: public issue, private decision, Public Affairs Committee, United States.
Koster, W., 2003. Secret strategies: women and abortion in Yoruba society, Nigeria, Aksant, Nigeria.
Rae, S., 2000. Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics. Michigan: Zondervan.
Smith, R., 2007. Textbook on international human rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Zavaleta, A & Salinas, A., 2009. Curandero Conversations: El Nio Fidencio, Shamanism and Healing Traditions of the Borderlands/. Bloomington: AuthorHouse.