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Abortion should remain legal

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    Abortion should remain legal


    Abortion is an exceptionally contentious issue that has been frequently argued over for the past few decades and most likely many years to come. Before we indulge ourselves into many controversial facets of abortion, we must first characterize abortion. Abortion is the obliteration of the fetus or unborn child while the child is still in the mother’s womb. This destruction can be performed by any one from the mother herself to back alley abortions and even abortions by clinics set up particularly for this reason.

    The abortion controversy involves two major aspects; PRO-LIFE that includes the ideas that abortion is unethical and illegal and the PRO-CHOICE that is comprised of ideas of freedom of choice i.e. woman’s right to choose if she wants to have an abortion. The supporters of these two confliction abortion ideologies suggest different solutions to problem. The pro-life answer to this dilemma is based on ethical and moral values and stresses to have the child and essentially live with it. The pro-choice supports abortions because of reasons they feel are appropriate and bottom line of their arguments is Kantian philosophy[1].

    Statistics of Abortion:

    Millner and Hanks (2002) have provided various statistics on abortion. Their research findings state, “there were over 1 million abortions in the United States in 1994. The U.S. leads most European countries as well as Australia and Canada in abortion rates. More than 88% of abortions in the U.S. were performed before 12 weeks of gestation, with adolescents more likely to abort in later stages of pregnancy than women older than 19 years of age”.

    Issues regarding the ethics of abortion are not new to the world; rather they are an age-old debate. [2] But attitudes towards abortion became more liberal in the 20th cent. By the 1970s, abortion had been legalized in most European countries and Japan; in the United States, under a 1973 Supreme Court ruling, abortions are permitted during the first six months of pregnancy. [3]

                In another decision, STENBERG et al. v. CARHART, Supreme Court gave the same decision. It states that:

    The Constitution offers basic protection to a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113; Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833. Before fetal viability, a woman has a right to terminate her pregnancy, id., at 870 (joint opinion), and a state law is unconstitutional if it imposes on the woman’s decision an “undue burden,” i.e., if it has the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the woman’s path, id., at 877. Postviability, the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where “necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the [mother’s] life or health.” E.g., id., at 879. The Nebraska law at issue prohibits any “partial birth abortion” unless that procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life. It defines “partial birth abortion” as a procedure in which the doctor “partially delivers vaginally a living unborn child before killing the . . . child,” (STENBERG et al. v. CARHART)

    Although above mentioned court decisions upheld the ideas of Pro-Choice group. But there is no real answer to this controversy.

     Pro-life views:

    Pro-life views are conventional and are based on the ecclesiastic notions that a fertilized ovum is ‘human’ from the time of conception. Catholic church illustrates example from Bible and other religious scripts, For example, it consider the following verses from the Bible, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20.13) and

    “For thou didst form my inward parts; Thous didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. (Psalms 139:13-16)

    Therefore, the above mentioned versus clearly state the point of view of the Church. The Roman Catholic Church has officially taken a rigid stance against the unethical facet of abortion.

    Some of those who are pro-life will allow abortion in these cases because they don’t know what else they can do for the victim and except it as a rare case. But it is known that allowing abortion in these cases usually does not help the victim, instead it only worsens the problem because the victim’s needs are not being met. But what happens after a victim has an abortion? Jackie Baker a victim states: “I soon discovered that the aftermath of my abortion continued a long time after the memory of my rape had faded. I felt empty and horrible. Nobody told me about the emptiness and pain I would feel deep within causing nightmares and deep depressions. They all told me that after the abortion I could continue with my life as if nothing ever happened.” (Reardon 21- 22)

    Another argument that support the claim of pro-life adherents is that main stress factors that a woman undergoing abortion faces is that she not only has to contend with her personal value and belief system, but she also has to face the rigid opinions of the society around her. Women are not the only ones who undergo the turmoil and stress of abortion.[4] Kalish (2004) writes that men whose partners undergo abortion feels “a lingering weight from the experience but has no socially sanctioned means of talking about their emotions”. In other words as the society does not establish that men also undergo tremendous amount of stress, shock, fear and guilt during the process of abortion; therefore no societies or groups are present to help these men through a difficult time in their life. Thus, a number of men are often deny themselves the experience of grieving.

    Pro-choice view:

    Pro-choice has a different view to this whole abortion controversy. Pro-choice believes that it is the persons right to have an abortion if they want to and that no one should interfere with that right. However, according to the Kantian mode it is believed that even a baby is not a human being until sometime after birth. Therefore, it has been stated in literature regarding the Kantian mode that a human being is someone who has the ability to think for one’s self. This ability is believed to develop sometime after birth. Similarly, there are researchers who believe that in order to have the ‘status of a human being’ it is mandatory to be accepted in to the society at large (Watkins, 2005). Pro-choice has many other reasons for feeling this way.
    The most frequent motive for abortions is when contraception fail to impede the way of unwanted pregnancy. The question arises that what should be the next step of an individual when the birth control method fails? Statistics show that malfunctioning of different contraceptive measure led to 1.6 to 2 million of the 3.3 million unwanted pregnancies in the United States in 1987. These pregnancies account for about half of the 1.5 million abortions performed every year.

    Boonin (2003) in his book, A Defense of Abortion states that abortion prevents the unwanted financial burden for poor parents. In addition, it helps to avoid the disturbance in the career and/or the education of parents (especially in the case when the parents are themselves very young). Abortion also prevents an unwed mother from societal disgrace. It prevents unwanted births (such as in the case when a pregnancy occurs due to the failure of contraceptive methods). In addition, advocates of the ethical nature of abortion believe that it prevents a child from leading a life of utter desolation, in which the parents may have one of any of a number of the above-mentioned issues.

    Another positive impact is maturity. How might a person mature because of their abortion experience. Well the most obvious example of maturity is after an abortion the aborted person usually changes their bad habits. Pro-Choice also believes that it is the moral right for a person to be able to control their own body whether it is having a baby or destroying it.


                In conclusion, in the past decisions regarding abortion were a result of moral values and human rights. However, in today’s world emphasis is placed on the health and personal choice. In addition, it is difficult to formulate a specific code of conduct for a subject such as this where conflict occurs on a wide myriad of issues (such as religion, society, law etc.). However, the stance of the society at large on the issue of induced abortion is steadily changing. There is a need for to tolerate and accept the different viewpoints of one another in addition to a requirement to develop a middle ground regarding ethics and abortion.


    Abortion. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press.


    Boonin, David. A Defense of Abortion. University of Cambridge. 2002.

    Gillon R. “Is there a ‘new ethics of abortion’?” Journal of Med Ethics. 2001.27 Suppl.II, 5-9.

    Kalish, Stacy. “Lingering Thoughts about Abortion: Male Grief Is Hidden”.

    Psychology Today. Vol. 37. No. 3. p. 14. 2004

    Reron, David C. Rape, Incest and Abortion: Searching Beyond the Myths

    Roe v. Wade. 410 U.S. 113. 1973


    Millner, V.S., and Hanks, R.B. “Induced Abortion: An ethical conundrum for counselors”. Journal of Counseling and Development. 2002.Vol. 80. No.1. p.57.

    Throckmorton, T. Abortion and Mental Health Title: The Washington Times. (January

     21, 2006.) A13.

    Watkins, Christine. The Ethics of Abortion Detroit: Thomas Gale. 2005

    [1] Kantian philosophy states that a baby is not human until some months after his/her birth.( Gillon, 2001)
    [2] The Columbia Encyclopedia states the history of abortion in this way: “Abortion induced by herbs or manipulation was used as a form of birth control in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome and probably earlier. In the Middle Ages in Western Europe it was generally accepted in the early months of pregnancy. However, in the 19th century opinion about abortion changed. In 1869 the Roman Catholic Church prohibited abortion under any circumstances. In England and in the United States in the 19th century stringent antiabortion laws were passed.” (Abortion, 2004).

    [3] This line of battle in the controversy over abortion has long been clearly discerned by Supreme Court in 1973 when court ruled in “Roe v. Wade” decision establishing abortion as a fundamental right. It declared that that most laws against abortion violate a constitutional right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment. It is one of the most controversial cases in U.S. Supreme Court history that generated much hue and cry in the media and social circles.

    [4] According to a recent newspaper article on the mental health of women who undergo abortion, it has been stated that the mental response of women to abortion varies significantly. The nature of a woman’s response (i.e. the manner in which she is able to sustain the emotional shock of abortion) is dependent on a number of factors, such as, “pre-existing mental health condition, the quality of relationship (with the father of the aborted child) and if the pregnancy was wanted or unwanted by the woman”. (Throckmorton, 2006).

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