Abortion versus Prolife
The right to life is an unconditional basic right of every human. However, this right is violated directly or indirectly by people, society, and nature. Yet, the worst enemy of this right is the one who gives it and then suddenly decides to deprive the unborn child of it – it is a mother. Nonetheless, one cannot be so biased towards abortion because it depends on the particular situation. Hence, abortion can be regarded as fairly controversial issue that is frequently discussed on numerous debates. Both advocates and opponents of abortion have many arguments in support of their beliefs and ideas. Thus, while some people claim that abortion is an act of murdering, others can state that a woman has right to choose whether to have a child or not. Therefore, the aim of this essay is to examine arguments for and against abortion as akin to assault on the value of human life or possible choice of every woman.
To start with, the meaning of the concept of abortion has to be defined. Thus, abortion can be considered an intentional cessation of a human pregnancy so that a child is not born alive. According to The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, abortion is “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus” (Merriam-Webster, 2004, p. 3). Although abortion ends with the death of the unborn baby, it still causes many questions as well as evidences and arguments that abortion has the right to exist in contemporary society. Moreover, people have always had prejudiced attitude towards something that did not coincide with their own views on things. It follows that everybody has a particular moral code that helps to recognize what is right and what is wrong and thus show the possible set of actions in a specific situation. Sometimes, people might carry their vision of the situation on others and thus impose their moral, ethical, and even religious principles.
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From the foregoing, it follows that a religious belief of one person that human life begins at creation should not be enforced on others. Despite the strong position of the Catholic and Lutheran churches against abortion, 51% of Lutherans and 48% of Catholics consider legalization of abortion in most cases an appropriate solution (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2008). Furthermore, religion and moral code do not determine when human life physically begins because it is the prerogative of science. It has also been noted that abortion is not a religious issue; it is a subject matter of science. From the religious point of view, life can be determined as an ensoulment of the human being that begins from the conception. However, the notion of ensoulment is a non-scientific criterion because human existence starts at the beginning of biological birth, not conception, and goes along his or her life cycle (Foer, 1997). Moreover, the human life progresses until biological death – whether it ends after 90 years, from old age, or several weeks later from an abortion. In addition to this, abortion, as well as the birth of a child, is genuinely a part of female reproductive healthcare. Despite numerous religious prejudices, women have choice whether to maintain or not the existence of another organism in their body. Therefore, anybody has a right to superimpose their religious beliefs over women and thus force them to be actually incubators, especially at the risk of their lives. Hence, women cannot be forced by any religion or somebody’s personal religious views to carry the life against their will.
The next pro-abortion argument is that the life that already occurs in woman’s womb is only potential life. Life is a continuous progression and therefore it has only potential relation to future phases of life development. Moreover, in the first trimester, when all abortions take place, the fetus is not an independent organism – it cannot exist separately from the mother. A fetus or the embryo depends on the mother’s organism from the conception since they are connected through the placenta and umbilical cord. Thus, the health of the fetus as well as mother’s one are interdependent; therefore, the embryo cannot be observed as a separate life as it cannot exist outside the womb. Regarding every unborn being as only potential life, it can be assumed that this life completely depends on a woman who may or may not give it birth. Furthermore, a potential being does not have rights since it is a privilege of an actual being, “a fetus is not a person, hence not the sort of entity to which it is proper to ascribe full moral rights” (Warren, 1973, p. 43). The unborn, and thus the nonliving, could not be ascribed rights, while a woman whose organism is a place of the embryo’s existence is a living being that has the power to set the course of her life. Even if a potential life of fetus can be given some right to life, that right cannot predominate female right on abortion because “the rights of any actual person invariably outweigh those of any potential person” (Warren, 1973, p. 49). In addition, the cells of an embryo can be compared to any other kind of living human cells because they are all the cells of person’s body. Thus, potential life cannot be the equivalent of actual life – a fetus has the potential to become a human, but it is not one yet.
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Moreover, there are particular life situations when the issue of abortion is probably reasonable. When a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape, it is an argument to obtain an abortion. Thomson (1971) stated, “a sick and desperately frightened schoolgirl pregnant due to rape may of course choose abortion, and that any law which rules this out is an insane law” (p. 65). However, in the case of rape, there are no age boundaries, and an adult woman can also suffer from psychological harm. Consequently, every woman despite her age, race, ethnicity, occupation, or social status who becomes pregnant due to rape is the victim of violent and amoral crime. It is argued that in the case of rape, abortion is the best safe method to defend the mental health of pregnant women (Varga, 1984, p. 67). Furthermore, a pregnancy caused by rape is not only a brutal crime against womankind, but also a grave injustice and violation of all female rights. Thus, the victim of rape cannot be obliged to carry a physical reminder of that horrible case in her life. To carry the fetus to viability means to relive the violence committed against a woman over and over again that only increase enormous stress. Hence, the value of a woman’s psychological health has larger importance than the value of the embryo. Therefore, abortion can be regarded as the best way to protect the health of female victims of rape.
Admittedly, opponents of abortion usually state that there are different viable alternatives to it, and adoption is one of them. However, adoptions cannot be an option to persuade a woman not to have an abortion. Moreover, abortion cannot be regarded as a way to avoid raising a child because it may cover a lot of reasons for a woman to have an abortion, and adoption does not address all of them. Adoption is not a right choice, and if a woman cannot give a birth to a child, there are no people in the entire world who would replace her. In addition, there is a countless number of children who are already destitute of parents. For instance, AFCARS Report has provided the most current data that nearly 114,556 children in the United States wait for foster care (Administration for Children and Families, 2011). Therefore, it can be only imagined how many children live on the streets and have no opportunity to be adopted. Hence, hundreds of unwanted, orphaned or homeless children suffer a lack of healthy nutrition, medical care, and education across the globe. They never have the opportunity to enjoy happiness of true childhood – to play, have fun and be carefree. Instead of a happy childhood, these abandoned children live in poverty; they may be abused or even become criminals. Thereby, it cannot be just to demand that women choose adoption as an option in the case of unwanted pregnancy.
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In addition to this, abortion can be considered a safe medical procedure rather than a dangerous one since it does not cause any harmful impact on women’s health. Moreover, development of modern medical abortions supports an insignificant percentage of risk (approximately 0.5%) of serious health complications such as infertility, breast cancer, and psychological problems. According to Raymond & Grimes (2012), “pregnancy-related complications were more common with childbirth than with abortion” (p. 216). At the same time, women risk their lives during childbirth nearly 14 times higher than during an abortion. Being made in the first trimester, abortion can be regarded as one of the safest and easiest medical procedures that will not affect female future reproduction negatively. It follows that the abortion is considerably safer than giving a birth to a child – both surgical and medications procedures are known to be safe ways of termination of unwanted pregnancy. The risk of dying or facing serious complications connected with abortion increases with the duration of pregnancy, and while it is made up to 9 weeks existence of the embryo in the woman’s womb, abortion does not bear the risk to a woman’s life. Pro-life advocates promote purported risks of abortion purposed to scare women and thus force them to refuse having a termination. These campaigns make false claims and display information of numerous researches and studies on abortion in a bad light. It should be emphasized that abortion does not cause long-term problems with mental health, as well as it does not provoke breast cancer (Raymond & Grimes, 2012, p. 217). Therefore, despite misinformation biases towards the safety of abortion, it is a secure medical procedure that does not promote any serious complications.
While advocates of abortion provide meaningful arguments in order to support this concept, opponents of abortion adhere to completely different point of view. Therefore, pro-life supporters are convinced that abortion is nothing else but murder. Numerous scientists, physicians, and scholars argue that human life begins at conception. Information from medical textbooks as well as scientific reference works provides people with knowledge that conception is the beginning of human life. Since life of every human being begins at the moment when the male and female gametes, sperm and ovum, respectively, are combined to form a zygote – a first stage of human biological development, abortion is akin to killing a living being (Varga, 1984, p. 27). Being the product of human parents, the conceptus is also a human being; therefore, abortion is an act of killing this biologically alive entity. Moreover, starting from the conception, yet unborn innocent human being obtains its personal unique genetic code that determines its unique individual physical characteristics such as gender, color of eyes, skin, hair, bone structure, and potential susceptibility to diseases. The genetic code of the unborn and his or her mother differs from each other. Hence, the unborn individual is unique, and it has all features of a human being.
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According to French geneticist Jermoe L. LeJeune:
To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. The human nature of the human being from conception to old age is not a metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence. (as cited in Geisler, 1989, p. 149)
Thereby, there is no doubt that the biological development of a human being starts at conception, and abortion is just a brutal murder of a person that cannot occur in contemporary society.
At the same time, abortion does not only mean the killing of an unborn child, but also an inevitable harm to the mother. After undergoing the procedure of abortion, the risk of having ectopic pregnancies increases, as well as the chance of post-traumatic stress syndrome, various neuroses, and disorders of the tubes and ovaries become possible (Raymond & Grimes, 2012, p. 218). The young adult women who have undergone the procedure of abortion may face following depression. Thus, women after abortion suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder known as post-abortion syndrome. This term belongs to Vincent Rue, American pro-life supporter, who during long observation noticed a development of stress response to abortion (Speckhard & Rue, 1992, p. 96). The concept of post-abortion syndrome is usually used to depict a wide range of inauspicious emotional reactions caused by abortion. Women with post-abortion syndrome suffer from long-lasting adverse symptoms that may include the feeling of guilt, anxiety attacks, depression, suicidal thoughts, and eating disorders. It should be noted that all these symptoms could develop into more serious health issues that may even threaten women’s life. Therefore, abortion and mental health problems remain in tight link with each other.
Abortion is also not an option when it is used as a form of contraception. The termination of a pregnancy is not an appropriate choice regarding other forms of contraception such as condoms or birth control pills. While pro-choice advocates claim that women have right to choose whether or not carry a life in their womb, they also can save themselves and their health from unwanted pregnancy by thinking before having a sexual relationship then after it, dealing with the responsibility for killing an innocent being. Indeed, it cannot be moral and acceptable to murder a human being for convenience. There is no reassurance of abortion as a form of birth control – if women become pregnant, they should be responsible for their future child. Although women might not plan a pregnancy, and thus they could be not ready to grow a child, they have to take responsibility for their actions. In addition, the unborn baby cannot be in charge of a mistake made by adults who actually need to accept the consequences of their deed. At least, if a woman is not ready to take care of a child, she has to find less radical methods than abortion, and an adoption can be regarded as one of them. Therefore, the termination of a pregnancy is not a method of contraception; it is actual killing of the unborn child.
Abortion is a child abuse that has greatly reduced people’s respect for life, and thus, it cannot be the norm in modern society. Women who have done the abortion may instinctively become restraint against the future sexual relationship in order neither they nor their potential children be abused. Moreover, the society that allows infants to die as well as women to kill them having abortion might lower the social taboo against the offensive treatment of the vulnerable civilians. The possibility of abortion tends to lessen trusting relationships between children and parents, especially children’s confidence in the care of their parents who have obtained the abortion. Thus, such tendency will lead to the hostility between the generations and increase violence respectively. If abortion becomes a norm in contemporary world, it may devalue children that results in parents’ understatement of the importance of proper treatment of their children. In some cases, parents may displace their increased guilt, anxiety, and self-hatred into their children (Geisler, 1989, p. 163). At the same time, women who have chosen abortion as an alternative of parenthood raise the hostile frustration of certain men that intensify the misunderstanding of the sexes, for which a child usually becomes a prey of their accusations. Furthermore, if a woman terminates her first pregnancy, it may lead to unfortunate consequences – the mother-infant bond that develops during the first pregnancy could be truncated thus diminish future female capability of motherhood. Therefore, the baby cannot be a victim neither of irresponsible parents nor sensitiveness of the society because any motive will not justify child’s death.
It can also be claimed that abortion is a reproductive choice of every woman. However, to be exact, female reproductive choice is whether to have sexual intercourse or not. When both women and men decide to have sexual relationship, they exercise their reproductive choice. Hence, abortion cannot be considered women’s reproductive choice. Despite any kind of the case, if reproduction has already occurred, the life of a new human being has begun. Since the reproductive act is not childbirth but a sexual relationship, the term reproductive freedom or reproductive right cannot be regarded in terms of abortion. People have the right for reproduction and an obligation to take responsibility for their future children, and this responsibility does not mean a murder of the unborn being. Moreover, all people have free will, and therefore, they are provided with the ability to choose and manage their actions. Taking the life of a human cannot be interpreted as a legal right, even if that life belongs to the innocent preborn child. Therefore, murder of a new life created by reproduction cannot be observed as women’s reproductive choice, and it should never be a justified right.
At last, abortion cannot occur in modern world because it neglects legal rights of the unborn human being. Abortion is often regarded as a choice of a woman to have a child or not, but, at the same time, the rights of the unborn child are eliminated. Just because the unborn children cannot speak for themselves does not mean that they are powerless and deprived of their rights. The result of abortion has a lethal impact on the normal development and growth of the unborn human being. Since the unborn child is already a human life, it has its rights that should be protected by law (Geisler, 1989, p. 43). Once biological development starts, a completely unique individual with his or her personal genetic code is created. Thus, while the preborn child exists in the mother’s womb, he or she is actually a human, possessing his own body, genetic information, and particular destiny. Moreover, parents are legitimate guardians of a child rather than legal owners. Thus, both parents and their children are equal and possess similar rights. Once a woman has participated in sexual intercourse and become pregnant, she has to take into consideration and respect the rights to life of a separate life within her. Therefore, women’s choice of abortion steels children’s choice to life and prevents them from exercising their future choices.
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Additionally, everybody has a right to life, but the questions concerning the notion of life and the time when it begins are still discursive. Abortion is a complex issue that cannot be burdened by moral prejudices, religious tenets, and personal attitudes of some people. The argument of advocates of abortion that life starts at the beginning of biological birth collides with pro-life’s statement that actually conception is a starting point of every human life. While pro-choice supporters argue that the unborn is only potential life, their opponents consider it actual human being. Furthermore, in some hard cases such as rape, the issue of abortion is probably justified, but it still violates the rights of the unborn to life. Advocates of abortion state that adoption cannot be an alternative of abortion, while pro-life supporters believe that adoption can be one of the possible ways to avoid the termination of pregnancy. Although abortion is regarded as a safe medical procedure, it does not reduce the likelihood of mental and physical complication women may face after the procedure. In addition to this, abortion cannot be considered a form of contraception due to a wide range of available common forms of birth control. Being a child abuse, abortion cannot occur in modern society because it lessens people’s respect for life. At the same time, abortion is not a reproductive choice of every woman – the choice whether to have sexual intercourse or not is a reproductive choice. Therefore, having examined the evidence for and against abortion, it remains difficult to take any side because opponents as well as advocates of the termination provide strong arguments to defend their points of view. Nevertheless, it is obvious that a person’s life, as well as women’s rights, have to be respected.
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