The history of abortions dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome where it was a common practice. However not every religion dealt with this as a personal issue and condemned women attempting it. The Assyrians impaled women on stakes while Catholic Church regarded it equivalent to murder after the fetus was already “formed.” The two characteristics underlying the process are of Pro-Choice and Pro-life. Through Pro-choice, the state allows women the complete authority to have an abortion with no legal interference. Whereas in Pro-life, the embryo is regarded as a human being with certain legal rights and abortion is considered equal to murder.
It’s difficult to categorize Abortion as a sin or a legal right since two points of view regarding the subject have always prevailed, i.e. those in favor and those against it. The only distinguishing characteristic to choose either side would be to consider the conditions under which the embryo is conceived. If the baby is conceived as a result of physical assault, rape or emotional instability, then its birth would be more traumatizing for both the child and its parents. However, women who exercise sexual freedom and opt for abortions to make up for their carelessness show disrespect for human life and low moral values.
The reason women attempting casual abortions only to suit their needs are labeled as being of morally improper character is because a fetus is considered as a living being from the day the sperm enters an egg (Baird 64). Soon after its conception, the fertilized egg becomes a hollow sphere wandering off to the uterus, destroying tissues in its path and sucking blood from the capillaries. It bathes itself in the maternal blood and extracts oxygen and nutrients. In the coming weeks, the embryo develops various body parts and looks a little like a segmented worm. The heart starts to beat by the fifth week and brain movements can be detected. By the forth month the face fetus develops which can be distinguished from other fetus too. To end a pregnancy at this level would not be short of a homicide.
The United States has forever been burdened with the decision of declaring Abortions, acceptable or banned. The varying perceptions of the people are always a hindrance for the Government to arrive at a consensus. Till the nineteenth century, the choice was woman’s until “quickening” and advertisements of abortion inducing drugs were found everywhere even in Church publications (Baird 72). However the consequence was the lowest birth rate in the history of America, due to which abortion was banned until it was necessary to save the mother’s life.
Soon after the establishment of American Medical Association (AMA) abortions could only be carried out by licensed physicians to protect the lives of both the women and the baby (Baird 79).
A negative aspect of this was that women were excluded from Medical schools where threats of pregnancy was taught to the Physicians thereby giving women no say in terminating their own pregnancies. Furthermore, it was unto the male physicians discretion as to what posed a threat to the woman’s life and what did not.
In investigating the morality of abortion it is necessary to take both sides in consideration. The most obvious philosophical perspectives on the issue of abortion can be divided into two major movements: feminism (or western perspective) and religious (or traditional, eastern perspective). The controversy goes back to the days when women did not share the same rights with men and had no authority to make decisions about their lives. When the feministic movement for the equality of rights has started to evolve, the abortion right has become one of the major objectives. The religion, from the other side, does not support abortion in any form and labels it a murder. Despite of the opposite positions on the issue, both perspective have something in common – both of them deal with the rights of women.
Abortion and the big debate would not be nearly as controversial as it is today without the people who started funds and support groups. For example, Judie Brown is one of the more famous leaders in the pro-life movement. When Brown first shown interest to abortion was in Seattle, in 1969, from there she passed out information on the street corners, in result, the campaign failed. Then she moved to Atlanta, then to North Carolina, then to Ohio. Brown’s career really started in 1976 when she marched in the Ohio March For Life and joined the National Right To Life Committee. That same year she was offered a position in Public Relations. After leaving the NRLC she founded her own organization called the American Life League. The ALL (American Life League) widened their horizons and made their points in schools as well, classroom sex education, and health education. Brown is still in the media and appears in magazines, newspapers and the news.
Therefore, the first point raised here is that from western perspective the abortion should be avoided through the unwanted pregnancy prevention. However, feminists can be divided into two groups: those who support the right for abortion despite of the public opinion and think that it is morally justified, and those who support abortion only in specific situations (for example, the unwanted pregnancy, pregnancy in the result of rape and other). The second perspective is more radical and the supporters do not agree with the assumption that abortion is a murder in any form. They state that each person has the right to decide whether to become a mother or not to become. Unfortunately, while making such claims women often forget about the rights and opinion of potential fathers who are deprived of the decision making power.
Many people would say that all humans have the right to life. To evaluate whether a foetus has the right to life, we must first as a society, determine whether the unborn child is a human being and at what stage of pregnancy it becomes one. There are already several speculations as to when the foetus becomes human. Most Christian or religious groups say that a child becomes human at conception. Others say that it becomes human when the amniotic sack attaches itself to the inside of the uterine wall. Some might say that the foetus becomes human when its heart starts beating. While others say that this only happens when the infant produces brain waves. Probably the most uncommon of the theories is that the child only becomes human at birth (Maguire 132).
The only way for a young woman to completely avoid an unwanted pregnancy is through abstinence. Whether a given woman decides to abort her pregnancy or not, it will without doubt affect her mental and physical health. If she decides to keep the baby, she will have to take care of it, wake up in the middle of the night for it; she will probably have to drop out of school just to maintain the child. On the other hand, if she aborts it, she will risk a uterine infection or other problems that might prevent her from ever bearing a child again. Not only that, but she will also have to live with the fact that she made the decision to abort her child for the rest of her life.
Abortion is similar to many of the other topics such as euthanasia or capital punishment. They are all similar because people are dealing with the question of whether the subjects of these issues are still human or still have the right to life and whether it is right to terminate their life. As a society, people are all naturally geared towards life and yet we make decisions to end it. This is the reason why to perform such tasks as abortion or assisted suicide are controversial and are illegalized in many countries around the world (Maguire 142-146).
One of the arguments in favor of legalized abortion is that women have the right to privacy and control over their bodies. Without absolute control of their fertility, women cannot compete with men). Having a baby might affect a woman’s career more than a man’s career. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, every woman should have the right to do what she wants with her body without anyone interfering. It is argued by those who are in favor of legalized abortion that the right to liberty and freedom without anyone interfering is protected by the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution, and it should protect a woman’s right to have an abortion.
However, the traditional, or so called eastern perspective, is completely different. It does not focus on the liberty of choice or equality between man and woman, but rather stresses the importance of preserving life. Although abortion it not mentioned in the Bible it still has many references that refer to the foetus as being very precious and important to us, as if it is alive.
‘Your eyes saw my unformed body.’ This quote suggests that God is watching over us all the time even before we are born and that we are humans even as foetuses, therefore abortion could be an act of killing, and in the Ten Commandments it states `thou shall not kill.’ This is just one of many different interpretations. Not only can the Bible affect Christian attitudes to abortion, but so can church, they interpret official teachings to help Christians in their views about things like moral issues. The Bible does not specifically state whether abortion is right or not, but there are many different quotations from the book that give a balanced view from both sides, so it is up to the Christian themselves to decide in what they believe about abortion.
If to set aside the religious beliefs and morality of the decision to have the abortion, the reality is that, most women who have had post-abortion counseling had many different reactions to abortion. Women who have seemed to be okay with their abortions can have emotional problems decades later. The problems usually show up during menopause or when their first child leaves home. Many women who have faced post-abortion trauma have had feelings of guilt and of hate toward themselves. Women also complained of nervous disorders and sleep disturbances. About one third of women who had an abortion regretted their decision and wanted to get pregnant again to make up for having an abortion. Studies have proven that teenage abortion patients’ suffering gets worse after eight months, and it is harder on teenagers, because they experience more stress during an abortion, because someone other than the teenager is in control of the decision of abortion (Cannold 112).
The abortion argument will not likely be settled any time soon. Differences in beliefs and opinions make it difficult to come to an agreement. Debaters on each side of the issue strongly believe that they are right. Some of the earliest arguments for the legalization of abortion are still argued today. Even with the legalization of abortion almost thirty years ago, the arguments continue, and the laws concerning abortion continue to change. Arguments for and against abortions are constantly being debated. Those in favor of abortion argue that women should have the right to control her own body, because it is mentally and physically healthier for a woman not to give birth to an unwanted child. Pro-abortionists also argue that the fetus is not a real person, so it does not matter if it is aborted. People who are against abortion argue that women are at a higher risk for reproductive health problems and depression after abortion. Those who are pro-life say that life begins at conception, aborting a fetus is murder, and the rights of the fetus must be protected.
Convincing arguments have been given by both sides. Evidence has shown me that abortion is wrong, because it has shown that the fetus is living. The fact that the heart beat begins eighteen days after conception shows that the fetus is alive. Information has also shown that abortion affects women emotionally for the rest of their lives. They live with the guilt of killing their own child, not a piece of tissue. When a woman who is worried or afraid because of an unplanned pregnancy, she is not always thinking that she is making a decision for another human life. As a result, even when women do not show it at first, they are usually affected by an abortion after they have had time to think about it. After looking at both sides of the issue of legalized abortion, I believe that both women and unborn babies are victims, and abortion should not be legal.
Baird, Robert and Stuart Rosenbaum. The Ethics of Abortion : Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Choice. Prometheus Books, 2001.
Cannold, Leslie. The Abortion Myth: Feminism, Morality, and the Hard Choices Women Make. Wesleyan University Press, 2001.
Maguire, Daniel. Sacred Choices: The Right to Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2001.
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