Philosophical Issue: Should Abortion Be Legal?

Introduction

Abortion is the expulsion of a fetus or embryo from a female’s uterus, which leads to the termination of an existing pregnancy. An abortion can be either induced or spontaneous, in which case it is termed as a miscarriage. A miscarriage occurs when there are complications during the pregnancy term and especially before the 22nd week of development. These complications may be a result of natural causes such as unnatural replication of chromosomes or due to accidental trauma.

An induced abortion, on the other hand, is the deliberate intervention to expel a fetus from the uterus either to save the life of the mother (therapeutic abortion) or due to other personal reasons other than fetal disease or maternal health (elective abortion). Induced abortions use various methods such as abortifacients like the abortion pill, suction aspiration, also known as vacuum abortion, dilation and evacuation (D&E), dilation and curettage (D&C), and intrauterine cranial decompression during late pregnancy. Despite the fact that the incidence of induced abortion has reduced in recent years due to the introduction of family planning services and contraceptives, the controversy on abortion has prevailed over the years.

The main subjects of debate border on the legal and ethical issues that are related to induced abortion, and this stirs up very strong feelings, opinions, and intense recriminations. As a result, two worldwide social movements have been created and are known as pro-life and pro-choice as they either against abortion or support induced abortion, respectively. The main debate in most countries of the world, however, is whether induced abortion should be made legal or not.

Thesis

In agreement with pro-choice activists, I believe that abortion should be legalized in all countries around the world. Every woman has the right over her own body, and she has the freedom to do whatever she wants with it. The choice of whether she wants to have children or not lies entirely in her own hands, and the decision she makes should not be judged by others who may not be aware of the situation she is facing.

In connection to this, there is also the fact that illegal abortion actually hurts a lot of women in countries where abortion is still illegal. Prohibiting abortions does not prevent them from being done, and just because abortions are illegal in a country does not stop a woman from getting one when she feels that it is absolutely necessary. Thus a woman will do whatever it takes to procure an abortion and even go to the back alleys in disregard of whether it is safe or risky. The legalization of abortion, therefore, promotes justice for women and puts their health as precedence.

Just as giving birth is a private medical matter, so is abortion. Whichever choice a woman makes between the two is a personal decision and should be between herself and her health care provider or doctor. Politicians should, therefore, not get involved in such private medical as well as family matters, and it should be considered an interference of a person’s right to privacy. In relation to this, a family unit should also have the choice to decide on the number of children they can handle within the family in regard to their economic status.

Despite the availability of family planning, sometimes accidents do happen, and in such a case, both parents should have the option of deciding whether they are able to bring and raise another child into this world. This is of great assistance in avoiding the matter of unwanted and unloved children in society.

For most pro-life activists, the status of the embryo is their main argument as they claim that aborting is equated to murder. However, the main question should be when the fetus becomes a living being because one cannot commit murder on a non-living, non-breathing embryo. Arguing that a fetus is a distinguishable person from the woman and that it has equal rights to the woman is erroneous and absurd as the woman’s body goes through a lot of transformation just by carrying the fetus. This kind of assumption reduces the worth of a woman.

Abortion should also be legalized, at least for the sake of rape victims who are not willing to keep an unwanted pregnancy. Rape can be a most traumatic experience for a woman, and having the woman keep a child borne of rape is unreasonable. When a child ends up being a constant reminder of such a harrowing experience to the victim, it becomes unfair to both the mother and the child. In such a case, abortion is necessary for the psychological and emotional health of a woman.

The outlawing of abortion can also be considered discriminatory to some point. In countries where abortion is illegal, the only way of procuring one is usually either very expensive or cheap but very dangerous. Therefore, underprivileged women are forced to self-induce abortions or visit the dangerous back-alley quacks while the rich can even travel to other countries if they need an abortion.

Anti-thesis

According to the pro-life group, induced abortion should never be made legal in any country due to a number of reasons. The main argument is that despite every person having a right to their own body and the choice to do whatever they will with it, an unborn baby is also a distinct human being that only resides in the womb of its mother. Genetically, the fetus is a separate individual with its own DNA combination that is completely dissimilar to its mother’s. Therefore the life of a person begins from conception when the sperm fuses with the ovum and any effort to expel it or interfere with its life are considered murder.

For that reason, when a woman procures an induced abortion for the sake of convenience and just because she has the freedom to do as she wishes to her body, then that is considered murder. That is because the mother’s body and that of the fetus are completely separate, and she has only been entrusted to carry the ‘separate individual’ to term and not interfere with its right to life. The option of abortion should only be considered when the life and health of the mother are at risk.

If a woman has the freedom to decide what to do with her body, then she has as much right to control her body and avoid engaging in sexual intercourse. This calls for responsibility from a woman, and she should not wait until she is pregnant in order to terminate her pregnancy. A woman should be conscientious enough to make this choice before she engages in intercourse. She should be aware of the consequences of engaging in sex and be ready to deal with them in a suitable way and not by ending the life of another human being. (Bowers 1997)

Women should also avoid procuring abortions as, in most cases, the process is detrimental to the psychological and physical health of a woman. Most women, after undergoing an abortion, suffer psychological trauma, and they live with regrets for the rest of their lives. In connection to this, women who have procured abortions have been diagnosed with the post-abortion syndrome, whereby they suffer from depression, anxiety, anger, flashbacks, and guilt, grief as well as relationship problems. Sometimes, accidents may happen during the process, and the woman is hurt physically in regard to her womb or cervix.

These complications are such as cervical lacerations, uterine perforations, hemorrhage, and incomplete abortions. Many women have also ended up suffering from long-term consequences of abortion, such as improper implantation of the fetus in future pregnancies, premature births, or not being able to give birth at all.

In regard to society, induced or elective abortion has a negative impact on society. If abortion is legalized, then the demographic rate of a country is bound to decrease. This is because women will abort even without a practical reason just because it is legal. As a result, birth rates will decrease, causing a demographic shift to an older generation population where the aged are more than the young people. A society that allows abortion is also bound to promote immorality within the population.

Young people are no longer afraid of indulging in immoral behavior as they cease being anxious about getting pregnant when armed with the knowledge that they can get rid of the pregnancy easily. Illegitimacy rates are expected to sky rocket in such a society as more children get born out of wedlock. When such a situation prevails, the idea of marriage gets eroded from that society. (Erens 1989)

God is the only one who gives life to human beings and all other living creatures. Therefore, He is the only one who is allowed to take away life. Abortion is a form of taking away life from another human being, and that is considered to be a sin before the eyes of God and a crime before the eyes of society.

In relation to the above point, a woman was given a special gift by God, and this is the gift to get pregnant and bring forth life. This is a gift that women should not abuse and instead take up the responsibility of saving the life of the innocent unborn. Legalizing abortion is a way of abusing this power and degrading the gift of being able to give life to another person.

Abortion is also used by most abortionists for their own gain and not for the benefit of the women and girls that they claim to be assisting. These abortionists rarely inform of the painful procedure that abortion really is and neither do they counsel on the emotional pain or possible long-term outcomes they may have to deal with in the aftermath. The abortion facilities, most often than not, are not concerned with the welfare of these women and are only out there to make a profit off desperate women while hiding from them the facts that may cause the women to stop the termination of the pregnancy.

That is why some abortion supporters harass pro-life pregnancy centers as these centers give hope to the women and girls that are desperate for a solution other than keeping a pregnancy. Some of these centers give women information on how abortion works and what it does, as well as allowing women to see ultrasounds. “The abortion industry is a profit-hungry predator that thrives on disinformation, targets the most vulnerable……….and rejects true compassion for women and children.” (Potts, Diggory & Peel 1977)

Another prominent argument is that the legalization of abortion would go against the ethical codes of the medical profession. Doctors are entrusted and expected to save the lives of people and not to destroy or terminate life. By allowing abortion, the hands of the same doctors who are delegated to save lives through treatment and medicine are used to execute the lives of other human beings, which are the young fetus.

Synthesis

The decision to obtain an abortion is by no means an effortless decision for any woman. However, women across the world have been making the choice of procuring one and with good reasons in regard to their welfare and convenience. A woman should not be forced to undergo a situation that she is not ready to face because of a mistake she made, and every time a society outlaws abortions, its only achievement is in driving the women into back alleys where they procure illegal abortions that are, most often than not, dangerous, costly and degrading to the woman.

By doing this, society unknowingly puts the health of women at a great risk that could be easily avoided by taking up the responsibility of providing safe abortions and post-abortion health care. This ensures the woman remains healthy enough to give birth in the future when she feels that the time is right for both herself and the child she is going to bring into the world. (Stotland 1998)

Banning abortion in any society actually harms many women as it is never a guarantee that women will not look for ways to obtain it. Due to the service being unobtainable in hospitals, a woman will end up procuring an abortion secretly, usually in dangerous conditions and without proper medical care. Consequently, it becomes the cause of fatalities and mutilation of thousands of women across the globe and especially those who suffer from life-threatening illnesses such as severe diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, and kidney disease. Hence, the legalization of abortion greatly facilitates protecting the lives and health of these women from hazardous childbirths and even more women from unsafe, illegal abortions that endanger their health. (Staggenborg 1994)

In these modern times, women have become more economically and socially independent, and with this newly gained equality, their burdens have greatly increased. Therefore, they should be allowed the choice to decide whether they are ready to start and handle the responsibilities that come with raising a family as well as maintain their careers. This is better as compared to having children who feel unloved and uncared for or children who do not receive enough attention from their mothers.

Legalizing abortion comes in handy for families that are not economically privileged. This enables them to be able to maintain a family that is well-fed and well-kept, unlike in situations where abortions are illegal and thus too expensive and hard to obtain. In such societies, there are a lot of unwanted children who end up abandoned by their parents and sometimes become street children. Thus the decision of a woman giving birth or procuring an abortion should be left to herself, her doctor, and those closely related to her, such as her spouse. The government should not get involved in this matter. (Bowers 1997)

In response to the argument on the risk of performing abortions, advances in the medical profession have made the procedure very safe and harmless. So long as it is done in a proper hospital, it is rare for an abortion to go awry. In the case of women with illnesses that might complicate the process, precaution measures are taken. By legalizing abortion, all women, irrespective of their social status, will have access to qualified medical practitioners.

In conclusion, people should learn to value the quality of life and not value just life for its own sake. It is also important to remember that abortion should be the last option or resort that a woman should consider in case of a pregnancy dilemma, and that should always remain so. This responsibility should not be neglected to the woman alone; rather, it must lie with both the men and women in society.

Reference list

Bowers, J. R. (1997). Pro-Choice And Anti Abortion: Constitutional Theory And Public Policy. West Port, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Erens,P (1989). Anti-Abortion, Pro-Feminism? Mother Jones Magazine, 14, 31-45.

Potts, M. & Diggory, P. & Peel, J. (1977). Abortion. Homestead, FL: Cup Archive.

Staggenborg, S. (1994). The Pro-Choice Movement: Organization And Activism In The Abortion Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stotland, N.L (1998). Abortion: facts and feelings: a handbook for women and the people who care about them. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Pub.