Term Paper on Abortion
For many decades, the topic of abortion has found its way to the centre of much controversy. In its broadest sense abortion is the taking of a life regardless of the state of the life form at the time of expelling the fetus. The topic is extremely controversial as Christians and non Christians alike argue the topic and the idea of free will on the part of the pregnant mother. While some individuals believe that abortion is a matter of choice, there are others who believe that the law must be enforced as women should take responsibility for their unwanted pregnancies. Still, the moral and ethical principles surrounding abortion rests in the decision of the pregnant mother. There are numerous legal cases that justify the need to rid oneself of unwanted pregnancies and then there are those laws that prevent a woman from expelling the fetus.
The average person would define abortion as the end of a pregnancy. But, the arguments surrounding abortion is not as simple as the typical definition of the term. Similar to all aspects of the life of a human, abortion is not just a simple picture in black and white, but instead it contains a number of gray areas that require much interpretation. Those who dispute the claims that abortion is a true reflection of murder, do so in direct contrast to those who believe that the woman has the right to decide what happens to her body. If a woman decides that she does not want a child, then the choice to abort the child is that woman’s right. After all, some advocate who argue in support of abortion would quickly suggest that the vessel can be overturned at any part of the journey because the carried becomes tired of the burden. But, this callous thought on abortion goes against the legal and biblical beliefs of those who belief that an abortion cannot be justified under the law.
For both arguments there are solid or concrete arguments that support the different beliefs. In the case of a mother carrying a child that she cannot possible take care of, the law should support the choice that she should have an abortion. Although some critics argue that abortion only gives the women the right to have unprotected sex, there is still the ideology that the woman should not be forced to keep a child that she does not want. As one would expect many individuals oppose the idea of abortion on the premise that the life of the baby is more important than the personal needs of the woman to chose not to have a child. The Christian Coalition, Human Life International, and other human rights group in the society support the right to human life and argue that there is no justification to an abortion. But, these arguments stop short of the arguments on the right to life. Conversely, the hypocrisy of such ludicrous arguments does not criticize the way governments go to war and kill numerous innocent civilians. Yet, the debate continues in an effort to deprive the individual of their constitutional freedom of speech, life, and liberty. These pro-life advocates argue that abortion is the murder of an unsuspecting life and those who carry out abortions attempt to play God when they determine who lives and who dies.
In addition, these pro-life advocates believe that abortion is a risky process that causes harm to both the mother and the unborn child. As a result, pro-life advocates argue that a woman should look at the other options such as adoption, instead of having an abortion. Of course with the many challenges in the foster care system and the challenges that one goes through in the carrying out an abortion, not many pregnant mothers want to carry a child into this world. The harsh reality is that adoption is a lengthy process and in many cases children suffer in these foster homes so for those who support abortion, there is no question that abortion is the best option for these unborn fetus. One cannot build a child’s future on the “hope” that the child will find a safe and loving home in the foster care system and as such, these mother’s believe that the worry of carrying a child and finding a suitable home is greater than the need to follow the laws against abortion. Of course, there are many women and their families who can provide suitable homes for these unwanted children, but the guarantee that each unwanted child will find a suitable home is slim.
The legislators believe that by forcing a mother to carry the pregnancy to term is the best solution to the problem that the country now faces with the increase in abortion, but the reality of the situation lies in the question: who suffers most when an unwanted child comes into this world? There is no question that the child will suffer and the strong belief that these children will find suitable homes is simply a wish that all mothers have with or without the debate of abortion. Pro-life advocates will always argue that there are those who will provide a suitable home. In fact, many organizations in the society have come together to support pregnant mothers who want to give up their children for adoption. But, how realistic is it to find homes for all of the unwanted pregnancies in the society? How realistic is it for the government to support the increase in the number of teenagers and drug addicts who become pregnant unwillingly? The economic recession in most countries today, does not allow the government to become parents for these unwanted pregnancies as the need to keep the economy on par with the globally communities is becoming a greater struggle for most countries.
Pro-choice advocates believe that the woman has the right to end the life of her unborn fetus as the woman’s right to choose takes precedence over everything else, including another human life. Most pro-choice advocates argue that it is natural for women to maintain their right to choose what is best for their bodies. The most popular argument for the pro-choice advocates is the case of Roe versus Wade in 1973. The case provides the fundamental premise on the federal laws that exists on the topic of abortion. The ruling supports the woman’s right to choose if she want to carry or terminate her pregnancy. However, despite the clear issue of choice in deciding the best course of action in an abortion, pro-choice advocates also argue that the mother’s health and well-being takes precedence over the life of the child.
Additionally, pro-choice advocates look at the horrifying issue of being the victim of rape and incest and argue that these cases warrants an abortion as it is unfair to ask the mother to carry a child that was conceived through incest or rape. The issue of incest raises the strong questions on the mental retardation that may come with these children. In analyzing these issues, one realizes that those in support of pro-choice in abortion cases have valid arguments that can be justified under the debate on abortion. But, why chose to abort an unborn fetus when the mother can easily seek medical attention after the sexual encounter? The question lends itself to the arguments that women are too ashamed to report cases of rape and incestuous relationships they fear the ridicule that comes with these cases. The reality is that the pregnancy from such emotionally disturbing experiences brings to the forefront more ridicule and should be dealt with as soon as the incidence occurs.
Of course, there are some organizations that see the “early-termination” pregnancy procedures in the same light as an abortion. In fact, in recent times the issues of abortions that occur in the third trimester, partial-birth abortions, and the “day-after” or RU-486 pill, have added new arguments to the debate on abortion. These partial-birth abortions and third trimester abortions are more controversial than the RU-486 pill as the first two cases include the termination the fetus. On the other hand, many early-prenatal abortions entail the removal of an embryo from the womb before it takes form. While the RU-486 pill just as controversial as the other forms of abortion, it offers a more humane look on how best to end an unwanted pregnancy.
According to Medline Plus, “an abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy,” (Medline Plus, par. 1). Additionally, it is “the medical process of ending a pregnancy so it does not result in the birth of a baby,” (Abortion, par.1). In some countries, abortion is a legal process that is carried out through the use of medicine and surgical operations where licensed health care professional carry out the procedure of removing the embryo and the placenta from within the uterus. Nonetheless, there are individuals who carried out abortion procedures that are not medically induced and this can lead to danger for the mother. The decision to carry out an abortion is personal, but the law must protect the lives of the citizens especially when the process of abortion endangers the lives of a mother.
The moral, legal and ethical problems associated with the abortion process are often justified by the number of weeks that the woman is pregnant. Many individuals believe that a miscarriage and an abortion are the same, but they are not the same. A miscarriage occurs through natural causes and begins without any form of medical intervention, even though there is surgical or medical treatment that one may need after a miscarriage which is needed to assist in emptying the womb. A woman has an abortion for personal reasons that include the risk that impact the wellbeing of the existing children that presents a medical risk to the mother; and a high probability that the baby will have genetic or physical serious abnormality.
While different countries have different views on the laws that govern abortion, there is the basic premise for many individuals that abortion is an operation that is best carried out by medical practitioners. In the United Kingdom, the law suggests that “an abortion can usually only be carried out during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy as long as certain criteria are met, (Abortion, n.p). In fact, the Abortion Act of 1967 covers Scotland, England, and Wales but the law does not include those individuals in Northern Ireland. The law stipulates that the process of abortion must be carried out in a medical facility or hospital or a specialist licensed clinic. Additionally, two doctors must be in agreement that the abortion causes less damage to the mental or physical health of the female.
The laws on abortion in the United States are just as stringent on abortion as the United Kingdom and other countries in the world. The Supreme Court implemented the first federal law to ban abortion procedures on April 18, 2007, (Federal and State Bans and Restrictions on Abortion, par. 1). The law gave the different politicians the authorization to intervene or obstruct the private health care choices that families and women make regarding abortion. Additionally, the federal abortion ban criminalizes the process of abortion in the second trimester which is the safest measure to protect women’s health. The federal ban has a tremendous impact on the doctors who provide medical care and the women who are in need of abortions in their second trimester as the law puts the health of these women first and place restriction on abortion.
For a number of years, Trent Franks the representative of the State of Arizona pushed a bill that would eventually ban the use of abortion in the Columbia after twenty weeks, (Federal and State Bans and Restrictions on Abortion, par. 2). At present, Franks continue with his mission to get his unconstitutional prohibition of abortion across the nation. In the states such as Arizona that have already passed such abortion laws, there are some women and their families, who suffer the tragic and heartbreaking situations, (Federal and State Bans and Restrictions on Abortion, par. 2). This situation leads to the need to finalize the pregnancy because of severe medical conditions, but they are not able to carry out this act. But some critics argue that politics should not prevent doctors and other health professionals from telling their patients about their medical options. In addition, doctors should not face criminal punishment for constitutional protected care (Federal and State Bans and Restrictions on Abortion, par. 2).
Majority of the abortions cases in the United States take place during the first trimester of the pregnancy and it is imperative that doctors and the pregnant woman should have the best possible medical opportunities that are available. Still, the ongoing laws that seek to restrict or even eliminate the process of abortion at the state level serve to deny the rights of the women to make their personal medical decisions, (Federal and State Bans and Restrictions on Abortion, par. 3). Even as the politicians seek to uphold the laws on abortion, the women pay the ultimate price as the laws that seek to restrict women who want to have an abortion become hurt or face the medical dangers that are associated with abortion.
There are number of dangerous requirements that come with the state laws that impact abortion. These requirements include compulsory ultrasounds before an abortion is carried out. These mandatory ultrasounds can be quite an onerous regulation especially for those victims of rape or incestuous relationships. Still, there are a number of policies that demand that the physicians compel the victims of rape to inspect the ultrasound, even as these physicians deliver statements that are politically motivating. In addition, there is a compulsory waiting period of approximately seventy – two hours before the process of abortion. This waiting period occurs even after the female’s preliminary discussion with her attending physician and unregulated counseling sessions.
While the federal laws continue to lash out against abortion, the National Center for Health Statistics present an alarming figure of 4,317,119 babies being born in the United States in 2007, (Abortions in America, n.p.). Although these babies are born, only a half of these pregnancies were planned which leads to at least four in every ten pregnancies being aborted, (Abortions in America, n.p.). Despite the federal laws, the number of abortions stands at approximately 1.21 million per year in the United States, (Abortions in America, n.p.) with two percent of the women being between fifteen years and forty – four years of age. Nonetheless, some statistics suggest that since the 1980s, there has been a decrease in the number of abortions carried out each year. Arguably, abortion has become the norm in many societies as the statistics from “Abortion in America” shows that forty-seven percent of the women who have abortions, have had at least one abortion prior to that in a given year.
There is no doubt that the United States has one of the highest rates of abortion in the western world as statistics show that “by age 45, one third of American women will have had at least one abortion,” (Abortion in America, n.p.) and “88.7% of all abortions take place by the twelfth week of pregnancy,” (Abortion in America, n.p.). Based on these findings, one can agree with Hendricks suggestion that pregnancy forms the foundations of the Supreme Court’s model that uses pregnancy as a baseline for a constitutional characterization of parenthood, (Hendricks, p. 330). Therefore, it forms the foundation for treating the idea of abortion as one of an array of reproductive rights instead of dealing with the process in isolation, (Hendricks, p. 330). The alarming figures in the cases of abortion are frightening and the law must continue to protect the rights of the unborn fetus as long as it causes no harm to the mothers.
Still, there are those who argue that abortion is the right of the mother and that mothers have should be left with the choice of when and how to keep the unborn fetus. The reality is that if men could become pregnant, then the concept of abortion would really be atonement for the “sins” they enforce on women during rape and incest. But, these men cannot become pregnant and women are left to bear the burden of carrying unwanted pregnancies. The political and legal arguments that support the rights of abortion attempt to compare a pregnant woman to a man and make the situation understandable to freethinking legal doctrines, (Hendricks, p. 330). These comparisons are important especially when there is the belief that abortion is not just a right to privacy, but also a matter of equality.
Cathy Cleaver Ruse and Rob Schwarzwalder looks at the legal ramifications of the case of Roe v. Wade to show the arguments that deal with abortion. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court did not create limitations o the right to abortion, but instead created a virtual unlimited right to abortion throughout the pregnancy, (Cleaver – Ruse & Schwarzwalder, n.p). The case reflected the 1854 law in the state of Texas that prohibited abortion except in the case of saving the life of the pregnant mother, (Cleaver – Ruse & Schwarzwalder, n.p). The plaintiff, Norma McCorvey, wanted a simple elective abortion and as such file a lawsuit that implied that the law in Texas deprived her of constitutional rights to an abortion, (Cleaver – Ruse & Schwarzwalder, n.p). At the end of the hearing, seven members of the Supreme Court rule in McCorvey’s favor and agreed that abortion was not presented in the correct context of the Constitution. Nonetheless, the group ruled that one’s right to an abortion formed a part of one’s right to privacy and previously the Court had created regarding contraception regulations, (Cleaver – Ruse & Schwarzwalder, n.p).
Arguably, the decision of the Supreme Court stemmed from the ignorance that explicitly defended the theory that no one knows the exact point when life starts. Despite the social cost of abortion, the laws tend to victimize the vulnerable in the society as a pregnant woman should not be allowed to bear the burden of having to look at the “scars” of rape and incest. The January 22, 1973 ruling in the United States Supreme Court in the matters of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton reiterated the new personal liberty that came with the Constitution. This freedom gave the woman the right to terminate her pregnancy at any time in its course, (U.S. Abortion Law, n.p.). These radical decisions by the Court at the time have caused much controversy in the constitution and have been maintained by indifferences. Still, none of the legislations today conformed to the Supreme Court’s criteria.
Edward Lazarus wrote on the Roe opinion and argues that the case of Roe versus Wade presents little connection to the Constitutional rights of the individual even as it was interpreted. The Democratic senators resisted the legal appointment as based on the nominee’s opposition to Roe, (U.S. Abortion Law, n.p) and endorse one of the most intellectually suspect constitutional decisions of the modern times, (U.S. Abortion Law, n.p.). At best, one can describe the Roe versus Wade’s case as one that defends the rights of the mother on the premise of ignorance because one cannot resolve the question of the onset of life, (Blackmun, as cited in U.S. Abortion Law, n.p.). Yet, if the personhood can be established then the case that supports legal abortion will fall through because the right of the fetus to life would take precedence over the health and well-being of the mother. The Fourteenth Amendment protects the fetus’ right to life and therefore such a right would supersede the mother’s right to privacy and freedom to choose. Some critics argue that the case of Roe versus Wade paved the way for the belief that “human life has less protection in the United States today than at any time since the inception of the country [and] less protection… than in any country of the Western world,” (Noonan, as cited in U.S. Abortion Law, n.p).
In addition, the case of Roe versus Wade made it clear that the term “person’ in the Constitution should not include an unborn fetus, (Cleaver – Ruse & Schwarzwalder, n.p). in order to use the arguments in the case, one must become cognizant of the legal ramifications that looks at the most important part of the case as the new “law” ruled that abortion must be allowed for any reason that a woman desires up until the child becomes feasible, (Cleaver – Ruse & Schwarzwalder, n.p). However, after viability, an abortion can only be allowed if the doctor believes that the process of aborting the child creates the necessary protection for the health of the mother, (Cleaver – Ruse & Schwarzwalder, n.p) as defined by the Court in a similar case that includes every health aspect regarding the “physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age–relevant to the well-being of the patient,” (Cleaver – Ruse & Schwarzwalder, n.p).
With this ruling, the Supreme Court created a law that supported a right to abort the unborn child at any point during the pregnancy even in the instance where the child passes the stage of viability, (Cleaver – Ruse & Schwarzwalder, n.p) based on the “emotional” factors that the mother faces. Clearly, the federal law gave the doctors who perform abortion, the right or the power to overrule any cases of abortion by simply arguing that there are “emotional” factors that warrant the abortion. A number of abortion advocates attempt to suppress this idea, yet but liberal journalists including David Savage who writes for the Los Angeles Times postulates that the hidden truth in the case of Roe versus Wade rests in the Supreme Court creating and implementing an absolute right to abortion whereas any case of abortion is justifiable under the health and well-being of the mothers.
When one looks at the case of Roe versus Wade, one can clearly recognize that the Supreme Court created this unlimited right to protect the best interests of the pregnant mother. But, majority of the people in America agree that there should be legal restrictions on the use of abortion to expel a fetus. Prior to 2009, most Americans were not pro-life. But, the changes in the way most individuals view the issue of abortion came after May 2009 and for the first time in history, “a significantly greater percentage of Americans self-identified as “pro-life” than “pro-choice,” (Cleaver – Ruse & Schwarzwalder, n.p). Arguably, the historical arguments for and against abortion is more complex than the case of Roe versus Wade. The issue has been around for over two centuries and has never had such legal protection since the rulings of 1973.
Still, in the modern society women in America maintain the legal right to carry out an abortion in all fifty states in the United States during the term of pregnancy irrespective of the reasons they may have. This right has held firm since the Supreme Court declared that self-directed abortion rights are an integral part of the 9th and 14th Amendments, (U.S. Abortion Law, n.p). The constitutional right to privacy demands that women have the right to privacy and therefore they have the right to have an abortion. But, the right to take any life leads one to question the individual’s right to privacy and the right to determine who lives and who dies. The cases of Roe versus Wade and Doe versus Bolton are different in many respects, but rulings in both cases have helped to shape the way individuals see abortion today.
In the Texas case of Roe versus Wade, the single, pregnant mother sued the Dallas County District attorney, Henry Wade to thwart his enforcement of Texas’ prohibition on abortion, (U.S. Abortion Law, n.p.). Roe had no legal foundations for her case as her life was under no threat from her pregnancy, and therefore she had no legal foundations on which to carry out the abortion under Texas’ federal laws that had the exception of saving the mother’s life. On the other hand, the Doe versus Bolton case in Georgia included a married woman who did not meet the basic state requirements under Georgia laws that permitted abortion in cases where the health and the life the mother comes under threat if the unborn fetus was deformed or if the pregnancy stemmed from rape.
In this case, the three-judge District Court made the decision that Roe had no foundations for her case and declared that the laws on abortion in Texas should be void because it was “vague” and “overbroad,” (U.S. Abortion Law, n.p.). In the case of Doe, the District Court was divided in their ruling as the ruling suggested that there were a number of pointless bureaucratic problems that impacted on an individual receiving a due abortion. Still, the State held that they had a right to restrict abortion based on the laws. Both defendants appealed their cases and the decisions went before the Supreme Court, and were enforced on January 22, 1973.
The ruling in Roes cases was at seven to two and that the states had an interest to protect the life of the fetus. This interest was not viable until the third trimester and therefore all state abortion laws prevented abortion in third trimester. In 1976, the issue of abortion came to the forefront again in the Supreme Court with the case of the Planned Parenthood versus Danforth. This law removed the principles of the state laws that require parental or spousal consent. In the case of Thornburg versus the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 1986 was divided in a split of 5-4, and discarded the manner of restrictions on abortion that included the obligation to enlighten women on the alternatives to abortion. The obligation to edify women on prenatal development; the obligation to enlighten females on the prospective risks of abortion; the obligation to maintain records of abortion; and the obligation that third trimester abortions can be carried out in an effort to spare the life of the viable child remains at the forefront of the legal battles on abortion as these obligations violates the female’s right to privacy.
Nevertheless, the 1989 case of Webster versus Reproductive Health Services, dealt Roe a blow that became serious as the five to four ruling support the idea that human life start with the period of conception, (U.S. Abortion Laws, n.p) and that the state can compel the interest of the life of the fetus during pregnancy. Roe’s arguments about the trimester and viability foundations were discarded, but the judge at the time, Justice O’Connor argued that the in spite of the similarities in previous cases, she would support Webster opinion that would ultimately overturn Roe’s case. As a result, the federal abortion laws remained unchanged, (U.S. Abortion Laws, n.p) even though the foundational theories of the law started to crumble. In fact, a number of states seized the opportunity to increase the restrictive state measures against abortion.
Still in 1990, the cases of Hodgson v. Minnesota and Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health offered the ruling that the different states should engage parents in the decision for a minor to have an abortion. In essence, the ruling require that there is “parental consent before a minor could have an abortion must allow for a judicial bypass,” (U.S. Abortion Law, n.p). The cases against the right to an abortion intensified with the 1992 ruling in the case “Planned Parenthood versus Casey” where the Supreme Court ruled on the right to legal abortion after a twenty-four hour waiting period and the informed consent of the parent. The different States were allowed more discretion as to the onset of viability and the ruling was decided by a dividing five to four verdict.
Justices Stevens and Blackmun did not approve of the additional problems that came with legal abortion, but they willingly agreed to garner the support of Justices Kennedy, O’Connor, and Souter, who opined that the case of Casey formed the medium through which the states gained additional control even as they upheld the basic tenets of the case of Roe. Justices White, Thomas, Scalia and Rehnquist opposed the idea and were not obligated to uphold the ruling as they believed that Roe had no Constitutional foundations in the case. Still, in the modern courts, the case of Casey is one of the more dominant models in the laws surrounding abortion.
The last prominent case relating to abortion in the Supreme Court was that of Gonzales versus Carhart in 2007. The five to four votes endorsed a 2003 congressional veto on the dilation and evacuation or dilation and extraction (D&X) process in abortion. This Partial – Birth Abortion Act surfaced in 2003 in response to the federal ruling over the Stenberg versus Carhart 2000 case in Nebraska. The partial-birth abortion ban was in direct violation of the Federal Constitution which was interpreted by the rulings in Casey and Roe legal battles. LeRoy Carhart, one of the late-term abortionists brought the suit against the Attorney-General, Don Stenburg in Nebraska. The verdict came by way of a five to four verdict based on the Nebraska law that did not include the exemption for the preservation of the mother’s health or the dilation and extraction procedure that was one of the most important factors in the life of the mother. The Supreme Court discarded the contention in Nebraska that there were safe alternatives to partial-birth abortion and this idea made the health exception law unnecessary, (U.S. Abortion Law, n.p).
Nevertheless, after three years in existence, Congress reversed the Court order and made the conclusion that there was a common medical, moral, and ethical consensus involved in the partial-birth abortion. Congress further believed that the process was inhumane and even gruesome and was a medical procedure that was not a medical necessity and should be prohibited. Carhart’s challenge of the constitutionality on the ruling resulted in his favor as the Eighth Circuit of Appeals and caused the United States Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, to petition the decision of the courts in the Supreme Court. However, the 2007 verdict reinforced the ban, as it was not totally vague and neither did it lack the exception to health that reiterated the views that there was an exception to the health of the pregnant mother. Although there have been little or no changes to the arguments during 2000 and 2007, there were irrevocable changes in the courts.
Many critics argue that abortion is a right of the individual and this makes them pro-choice commentators in the controversy on abortion. These commentators see the case of Roe versus Wade as indefensible as Roe was incorrect mainly because abortion does not come under the constitutional law and does not allow for a sense of obligation. In support of Justice Blackmun opinion, abortion advocates will argue that the ruling in the case of Roe versus Wade is one of the most intellectually inference of constitutional decisions in present times and is rooted in the theory of legitimacy. Like many abortion theories in present times, Roe crossed the boundaries of legitimacy and ventured deep into the changes in the laws. This belief presents an incomplete justification for the arguments and does not reflect the operations of the courts.
Interestingly, the incidence of abortion in the United States is quite common as the country boasts the highest rate of abortion in the western world. Additionally, the United States has the third highest rate of abortion in the developed countries in the world. The reason for abortion varies and it is the minority of the abortion sample that carries out abortions because of their health or health problems for the child. The Guttmacher Institute is popular for its accurate surveys on abortion in the past twenty-five years. The two major studies show that the majority of the women, who carry out abortions, do so because of personal choices. The findings reveal that a shocking ninety-two percent of the women who carry out abortions chose to end the life of healthy babies even as they too are healthy individuals, (as cited in U.S. Abortion Laws, n.p.). What then do these statistics suggest for the cases of abortion?
Clearly, the advocates against abortion are accurate in their beliefs that abortion is murder and one of the greatest cases of homicide in the Western world. Despite the arguments that abortions cannot be murder as the fetus does not have life, there is the undisputed reality that abortion is a process that takes the life of a child who could have otherwise lived a healthy life. Many women die as a result of abortion and this death is probably the act of equality as it reflects the teachings of a life for a life when women take the lives of the unborn fetus. In making abortion legal, one still cannot justify the fact that an abortion takes the life of an innocent fetus. It simple justifies the act of murder.
Still, if the laws on abortion remain intact, the government maintains the legal limits to the present belief in the absolute right to an abortion. Araujo writes: “For today, at least, the law of abortion stands undisturbed. For today, the women of this Nation still retain the liberty to control their destinies. But the signs are evident and very ominous, and a chill wind blows,” (Araujo, p. 1). Those who argue for life continue to do so in a number of states, and those who argue pro-choice continue to do so. The fact is that the arguments for and against abortion continues as individuals believe in the fundamental rights of the mothers and the unborn fetus. But because there is no common ground to these arguments, the political void that exists in the debate on abortion rests in the moral obligation of the arguments that support pro-choice. Frankly, the choice to abort a fetus is to kill the fetus and prevent the realization of a human life, (Araujo, p.1), which many see as a moral and ethical crime. Yet, there is an ongoing war around the world that promotes the killing of individuals. Many individuals who are killed in war are innocent civilians who have been exposed to unintentional danger, and this is not wrong. Religious affiliates readily denounce abortion as an act of killing, but cannot denounce the inevitable suffering and ultimate death that comes with war.
Arguably, the controversy of human life as it relates to abortion in the United States represent different perspectives on the topic of abortion and the issue of the common good. Nearly twenty years ago the popular case of Roe versus Wade impacted the United States judicial and legal arena and the public in general. The public debate continues to raise the critical arguments on the stage that the fetus becomes a human form based on the constitutional rights that govern the society. The medical dilemma of abortion rests in the arguments of the human fetus and the common good of the female. Additionally, medical experts who support abortion believe that “once the sperm encounters the ovum, the process of fertilization begins,” (Araujo, p. 2).
However, fertilization does not happen immediately as the sperm penetrates the ovum, (Araujo, p. 2); instead, the fertilization process sets off the process of syngamy, (Araujo, p. 2). Here, the sperm completes the penetration of the ovum and exchange with the ovum, (Araujo.p. 2). Within that moment there is approximately twelve to twenty-four that leads to the completion of the process of insemination. The process of fertilization accomplishes the goals of giving the pre- embryo a full set of forty-six chromosomes that develops the human form, (Araujo, p. 2). In addition, fertilization helps to determine the chromosomal sex, establishes the genetic variability, and initiates the division of the zygote, (Araujo, p. 2).
With this medical clarification of the onset of human life, advocates against abortion hold the strength of their arguments in abortion being equal to murder. But, Zampas and Gher suggests that the issue of abortion is more than the right of the unborn child and should look at the “maternal mortality, prohibitions of therapeutic abortion as infringing on the right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and state procedural obligations to ensure women’s right to access legal abortion,” (Zampas & Gher, p.1). The alarming figures from the researches at Guttmacher Institute reinforce the idea that approximately half of the women in America have an unintended pregnancy by the time they turn forty – five years old. Additionally, the rates of abortion in 2008 point to one in ten women having an abortion by the age of twenty. The frequency of abortion makes the process truly inhumane as it suggests that women now see abortion as a method of contraception. As such, one can only agree with the pro-life activists who believe that the law should be enforced in the cases of abortion and allow life to take precedence over choice.
The right to life does not justify or guarantee the right to be given the use of or a right to be allowed continued use of another person’s body, (Kiessling, n.p) even though the situation warrants the need for the life itself. There is a distinct moral difference between an omission and an act and the immediacy is a morally significant feature when it relates omissions. In contrast, one can argue that it is morally unacceptable to question the right of a woman to provide life. It is shocking that one’s rights should disappear even as it becomes more difficult to agree. The question of the burdens and ease of carrying an unborn child rests with the determination of what qualifies as being just and acceptable based on the circumstances.
Whenever the rights of an individual conflicts with different rights one must balance each right against the other to determine what is morally and ethically “just.” It is morally “just” a pregnant mother to end her pregnancy prematurely if it can save her life. Nevertheless, it is even more difficult for the pregnant mother to facilitate her unborn child’s right to life, (Kiessling, n.p) although it is more difficult for the mother to fulfill the needs of the unborn child, (Kiessling, n.p). Conversely, the natural characteristics of the pregnancy reflect the direct proximity and an exceptional ability to provide support even at the cost of self-sacrifice. The burden of carrying a life that can prove to be detrimental to the health of the woman often weighs against the benefits of having the child and leads critics to believe in the right to abort a child if it harms the mother.
Many liberal defenders of the abortion debate believe that abortion should not be justified under the law. In contrast those who support the arguments for abortion believe that there are special cases that warrant an abortion out of moral and ethical duties. Still, one should wait and weigh the consequences of an abortion carefully before agreeing to have an abortion. In cases of rape, one cannot truly expect a mother to wait and weigh the consequences of having an abortion as the emotional stress of having a child out of rape can cause medical problems for the mother and lead to medical problems for the child. The theory of moral and ethical principles become lost in these instances and the right to life no longer holds firm.
Bachiochi suggests that in the last three decades, the debate surrounding abortion has intensified and the basis of the debate is often characterized by the clash of the arguments for the human rights of the child and the reproductive rights of the mother, (Bachiochi, p. 1). This controversial issue has left a number of citizens in the United States opposing the views that human life is more valuable than reproductive rights. The arguments are successful mainly because abortion advocates have convinced most Americans that abortion is necessary for the well-being and equal rights of the woman. Arguably, the society has it fair share of individuals being called anti-women because they oppose the idea of abortion. Quite frankly, the laws which exist to suppress the rights of the woman to choose to have an abortion are simply the ideology of the patriarchal nature of our society. But, this gender hierarchy is removed when women are free to do what they please with their bodies. This belief leads many individuals to criticize the laws that support abortion and gives women the right to take a life.
While approximately thirty percent of women who have abortions suffer the increased likelihood of depression, anxiety, and suicide, (Bachiochi, n.p) there are still those who have no remorse about carrying out an abortion as the process helps to ease the emotional and medical distress they face otherwise. Bachiochi points to the 2002 study by the state-funded medical insurance program in California that was published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry to support her theory that there are serious mental health claims for women who carried out abortions, (Bachiochi, n.p). With these statistics, one wonders why the federal laws allow abortion on any level if it impacts the mental health of a woman in a negative way. In addition to the mental health disturbances, the 1996 article in the British Medical Journal and the 2002 article in the Southern Medical Journal, shows that the threat of death from suicide is great as it is two to six times higher for women who have had abortions when compared, again, with women who have not had abortions, (as cited by Bachiochi, n.p).
But what really dies when there is an abortion? Pro-life advocates on abortion argue that it is the human embryo that dies when an abortion is carried out. Hence, a human being dies in an abortion. The law clearly does not allow for the intentional killing of another person, so why should the law allow abortion? There are so many alternatives to abortion, yet women choose not to carry their unborn fetus’ simple because they no longer want a child. One can understand that in the cases of rape and incest, the emotional trauma is great and the woman cannot bear the thought of carrying the child, but there are medical procedures that allow for the removal of the sperm before the embryo becomes a reality. Additionally, the threat of having a physically or medically challenged child is too much for many mothers to bear and therefore, the mother will chose not allow the child to suffer.
But, there are cases where doctors and science is wrong and the presupposed challenged child can lead a normal life. Should these children not be allowed to attempt to live a normal life? Lee and George argue that the defenders of abortion “grant that human embryos or fetuses are human beings,” (Lee & George, n.p) and should be allowed the right to live. Yet, the authors suggest that there are others who “distinguish human being from ‘person and claim that embryonic human beings are not (yet) persons,” (Lee & George, n.p). Therefore, while it is wrong to kill people, it is not always wrong to kill human beings who are not considered to be persons, (Lee & George, n.p).
It is only fair to speculate that living with a very severe medical condition goes against the best interest of the unborn child. It is even more challenging to find the perfect arguments that will create or cause changes in the arguments that surround certain pathologies that would represent satisfactory reasons for abortion, (Giubilini & Minerva, n.p). Nonetheless, many parents find it difficult to bring up a child with disabilities and on these grounds they argue that the fetus has the potential to become a normal person because the state provides the economical care that the child may need. Arguably, abortion is highly unstable moral issue that includes the impossibility of having neutrality in its arguments.
The fundamental question on abortion is whether the fetus is human at the point of conception or after it is born. On the one hand, the fetus is “a human within a human,” (Novak, n.p) and on the other hand “the child is a human person only after it emerges from the womb,” (Novak, n.p.). Both views suggest that there is an absolute ethical and moral belief that forms the framework of the practical rules that are inconsistent with the complex nature of abortion, (Novak, n.p.). The individuals, who believe that abortion should take the life of the unborn child, argue that the threat to the mother is of paramount importance. In the case of a medical emergency that would place both the life of the mother and the child at risk of death, there is no question as to the validity of maintaining the immediate life of the mother. And, this would make abortion morally correct.
On the other hand, if the fetus is not seen as a human person, then the general prohibition of abortion on the grounds of the proscription of wanton destruction, (Novak, n.p) creates self-mutilation. The most practical argument is that the unborn child is a human being and the fetus is a part of the mother’s body, (Novak, n.p). But, the legal arguments for abortion are complex and the practical results do not arise from a single principle or belief. There are many principles involved in the case of abortion and the religious, ethical, moral and medical factors should help to determine the right to an abortion. Despite the numerous legal battles for and against abortion, each case is unique and should be treated in a unique way. There should be no law to dictate when a woman can have an abortion especially if there is a medical dilemma that warrants a medical decision to abort the fetus.
From a psychological perspective, the right to an abortion should not require legal ramifications for the mother as the cases of pre-partum depression or psychiatric considerations should overrule the right to life. Clinically depressed mothers are likely to pose a threat to self and the unborn child. Take for example a suicidal mother will have a child and commit a homicide after the child is born. The mother may feel the severity of depression and take the life of the child. This act makes the situation worse as the child could have been aborted from the onset and not have to face the trauma of death. Still, some critics may argue that the mother would have been evaluated during the pregnancy and the signs of depression would have been clear from the onset. But, this illogical argument is riddled with flaws as not many pregnant mothers can afford psychiatric evaluation during pregnancy. In fact, there are not many individuals who would readily agree that they have psychological problems and will seek psychiatric care.
The harsh truth is that abortion is a cruel way to end an innocent life as the process kills an embryo during the first trimester of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. The controversy spans decades and there does not seem to be any end to the debate about the legal form of killing an innocent victim. Protestors who are against the idea of abortion make it clear that the process is one that is disgusting as the media has done enough to educate younger girls about the use of contraceptive to prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancies. There are many individuals in the society who believe that any teenager who becomes pregnant, is promiscuous and should therefore live with the consequences of their pregnancies. Nevertheless, a number of pregnancies do not happen in such a simple manner. Many women are victims of date rape and incest. Should they be allowed to live through these emotional scars every time they look at their child?
Many women also face the mistake believing that they have found true love in the arms of unsuspecting predators who engage in sexual activities with these naïve children. The truth is that everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone should be forced to live with the scars of their mistakes. Teenagers will always explore their youth and many will pay the consequences when they become pregnant, but they should not have to pay for the mistakes for the rest of their lives. The choice that these females make leads them to the point of having an abortion so that they can improve their future, but women do cannot become pregnant by themselves. Yet, they are forced to live with the choice of having a baby and being deprived of a ‘good’ future and having an abortion and becoming the ‘scourge’ of the society. The men face no such consequences and so they continue to rape and destroy the lives of the unsuspecting children.
In concluding, the emotional side effects of abortion differ according to the individual needs and desires of the female. Some women become deeply traumatized by the abortion process as their reasons for having an abortion rests in the medical and emotional drama of their pregnancy. On the other hand, some women are relieved by the process as they feel as they would have carried an unwanted pregnancy to term. For many women, becoming pregnant is a careless mistake that comes with unprotected sex. Abortion offers the best solution to this problem as more and more women stray from the moral and ethical principles surrounding abortion. More often than not, doctors find that the best solution for these women who continue to have unprotected sex is an abortion as there would be a number of children in the society who would have to depend on welfare services. This dependence on the government places a strain on the economic development of the country and in turn places strain on the society as a whole.
Personally, an abortion should not have to be a controversial issue as a woman chooses to have sex and this means that she takes the chance of becoming pregnant. It is her free will, her choice and therefore she knows what she is doing. An individual who has sex knows the consequences of having sex and one of these consequences rest in the possibility of a pregnancy. As such she should be held accountable for her actions and should be forced to take care of the child whether the pregnancy is unwanted or unplanned. The idea of an abortion is really immoral as it represents the intentional killing of a human being. A number of researches suggest that life begins with conception and every mentally sane individual has heard these reasoning before, therefore unplanned pregnancies by mentally stable adults should not end with abortions.
Of course there are those who will argue that rape and incest also contribute to the number of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies in the country. These individuals will also argue that teenagers cannot make sound decisions and therefore, it is in their best interest to abort the child. But, what about the parents of these children who become pregnant? They should be held accountable for the pregnancies that these teenagers have and they should help to find suitable home for the unborn child instead of embracing the immoral act of abortion. When there is an abortion, mankind plays the role of God and snatches the life of an innocent child. Additionally, mankind denies this innocent child the right to experience and live in the world. There should be no debate on the laws that surround the right to an abortion as the humane thing to do is to bring the child into the world. An abortion takes away the mother’s right to enjoy the opportunity to become a responsible adult. The fact is that an abortion is final and one cannot reverse the process. While the emotional scars may hurt at the moment, they heal eventually and the mother could have the opportunity to live with the scars of rape and incest. But an abortion will take away that possibility.
- Abortion (2014) Viewed at http://www.nhs.uk Accessed March 30, 2015
- Araujo, Robert J. (1993), Abortion, Ethics, and the Common Good: Who Are We? What Do We
Want? How Do We Get There? Volume 76 Issue 4 Summer Article 3 Marq. L. Rev. 701
- Bachiochi, Erika (2005) How Abortion Hurts Women: The Hard Proof, Crisis Magazine, Web.
Accessed April 5, 2015.
- Cleaver – Ruse, Cathy & Schwarzwalder, Rob, (2015) e Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular
Audiences Web Accessed April 4, 2015
- Federal and State Bans and Restrictions on Abortion, (2015) Federal Abortion Ban Viewed at
http://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org Accessed April 4, 2015
- Giubilini, Alberto & Minerva, Francesca (2012) After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?
J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2011-100411 Law, ethics and medicine. Web. Accessed April 6, 2015
- Hendricks, Jennifer (n.d) Body and Soul: Equality, Pregnancy, and the Unitary Right to Abortion
- Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review [Vol. 45] p. 330
- Induced Abortion in the United States (2014) Fact Sheet. Web. Accessed March 31, 2015.
- Lee, Patrick Lee and George, Robert P. (n.d.) Chapter One – The Wrong of Abortion. Web.
Accessed April 4, 2015.
- Novak, David (n.d), Abortion, The Jewish Publication Society, 1993), pp. 16-19University of
- Medline Plus (2014) United States National Library of Medicine Viewed at
http://www.nlm.nih.gov Accessed April 4, 2015
- U.S. Abortion Law – An overview of the history and legality of abortion in the United States
(2015) Viewed at http://www.abort73.com Accessed April 4, 2015
- Zampas, Christina & Gher, Jaime M. (2008) Abortion as a Human Right—International and
Regional Standards. Web. Accessed April 4, 2015.