The topic of abortion has been one of the most complex and controversial discussions of the modern era. Several appealing arguments have been presented from both opposing sides, but the ongoing debate is still far from reaching any form of real consensus on the matter. Partly the reason for that is the incompatibility of ethical and moral judgments, which may be agreed as truths when viewed separately, but contradict each other if brought together.
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For instance, fetus’ rights for life sometimes challenge the women’s rights for self-determination. Other arguments include the questions such as whether abortion harms women, whether the embryos should be considered as human beings and whether legalization of the process would damage society due to the slippery slope phenomenon. However, the careful examination of the existing literature and consideration of various opinions show that the arguments in favor of abortion decriminalization outweigh the opposite views.
First of all, illegal abortion contradicts the basic human rights for health, equality, and dignity (Erdman & Cook, 2020). For that reason, forbidding women to manage their bodies freely violates those fundamental principles. On the other hand, as was mentioned above, such logic is incompatible with the fetus’ right to life which is also one of the basic rights of human beings. However, that notion is strongly contested as a fetus is defined as a potential person rather than an actual one (Miklavcic & Flaman, 2017). Therefore, following similar reasoning, it is fair to claim that embryos do not possess rights before their birth as the latter were designed for human beings. As a result, it can be concluded that abortion concerns only women’s rights but not the fetus’s rights.
Next, it is argued that the criminalization of pregnancy termination does not abolish its practice. Instead, women have to seek help from non-professionals which puts the lives and health of the former at great risk. On the contrary, professional care that patients can receive in official medical institutions significantly reduces the possibility of negative operation or medication outcomes. For instance, Gonçalves-Pinho et al. (2016) found that in Portugal, before legalization, almost every end of pregnancy would result in a woman’s hospitalization. On the contrary, the authors maintain that the number of such cases accounted just for 10% after legalization. Therefore, as governments are unable to eliminate women’s abortion-related choices, they should seek to reduce the risks that threaten the latter’s lives and health.
Finally, the evidence suggests that decriminalization of abortion would not result in a slippery slope phenomenon appearance as feared by some people. In other words, there is a concern that the legalization of pregnancy termination would lead to an increase in the number of cases and promote irresponsible attitudes but this hypothesis is found to be wrong. The study conducted by Singh et al. (2018) shows that in 2017 US had the lowest number of abortions since 1973 – when the procedure was first legalized. The authors maintain that the number of pregnancy terminations grew steadily until the 1990s but then started declining. Moreover, it is argued that the promotion of effective contraceptives may be a better predictor of a decrease in abortion demand than restrictive laws.
In summary, the current paper presented the arguments in favor of pregnancy termination decriminalization. Although it is agreed that both sides pose almost equally justifiable and valuable ideas, it is maintained that the reasons in support of abortion outweigh opposite views. Firstly, abortion should be legalized because it protects the rights of women. On the contrary, pregnancy termination cannot violate the rights of embryos as they are considered to be potential human beings – not the actual ones. Secondly, it is asserted that illegal abortion is associated with increased numbers of non-professional interventions that endanger women’s lives and health. Finally, research shows that despite existing concerns, decriminalization of pregnancy termination does not lead to increase in the number of procedures undertaken.
Gonçalves-Pinho, M., Santos, J. V., Costa, A., Costa-Pereira, A., & Freitas, A. (2016). The impact of a liberalisation law on legally induced abortion hospitalisations. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 203, 142-146.
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Erdman, J. N., & Cook, R. J. (2020). Decriminalization of abortion–a human rights imperative. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 62, 11-24.
Miklavcic, J. J., & Flaman, P. (2017). Personhood status of the human zygote, embryo, fetus. The Linacre Quarterly, 84(2), 130-144.
Singh, S., Remez, L., Sedgh, G., Kwok, L., & Onda, T. (2018). Abortion worldwide 2017: uneven progress and unequal access. Guttmacher Institute. Web.