Abortion issue Essay

Abortion has been a controversial issue since it first became a viable option to women. The reasons that women turn to abortion are based on many factors. Age, marital status, economic status, medical reasons, personal reasons or the fact that they were the victim of an abusive sexual act are all possibilities for a woman wanting an abortion. The decision to end a pregnancy is intensely personal. Most health care providers recommend careful counseling before making such a decision. If a woman chooses to have an abortion, she should find a safe place to have the procedure performed, and obtain the support and follow-up care that may be necessary after the abortion. There are some who believe that abortion is a fundamentally evil thing. That to end a life before it has a choice is murder. No life regardless of the developmental state should be ended without recourse. The practice is barbaric and akin to premeditated murder in some cases.

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Pro Life is a term that is used to describe the association of people who believe that abortion is a fundamentally evil practice. That to end a life is wrong unless extreme circumstances exist. The pro life faction is not saying that a person should be forced to conceive or to raise a child. They simply do not believe in the ending of any life that has begun, no matter the circumstances of conception unless the mother’s life is in danger.

Pro choice does not mean pro murder. There are those who believe that the two terms are the same. As a pro choice representative one does not believe that the unborn fetus is alive and therefore the idea of hurting another living being does not enter into the argument. The fetus is only a lump of flesh without a mind, soul or life to be taken away. For a person who believes in pro choice alternatives, it is necessary to consider two questions:

1.      What is the best (or least awful) option? If a woman finds herself pregnant, and does not want to be, what is the best (or least worst) solution for her, the potential newborn that she is carrying, and all the other people involved — including her boyfriend or husband and their families?
1) To take no action, have the baby and raise it herself (hopefully with support from others).
2) To take no action, give birth, and give the baby up for adoption.
3) To have an abortion and terminate the pregnancy.

This question is not asked so that a potential mother can find the right excuse to get out of her pregnancy. It is asked to ensure that the best possible solution is found for those who, as pro choice supporters believe, are alive and have the right to determine the way in which their bodies and lives can be used and changed. “A woman has the right to control her own body.” [1] Due to the belief that a fetus does not become alive until a certain stage in the pregnancy it is given to the potential mother and her partner to decide what happens. It is not a matter of taking a life but of preserving or protecting a life that is already in progress. Life is precious in all its forms, but does anyone have the right to take that decision away from the mother? Who decides what is right and wrong in an issue where the sides both believe in preserving life in different ways? To answer this question the second of the necessary inquiries into abortion proceedings is asked:

2.      Should the state overrule the woman’s or couple’s decision? If a woman finds herself pregnant, discusses her options with her physician, perhaps her spiritual counselor, and the other people involved, and decides to have an abortion, should the state override her decision and prevent her from proceeding? That is, should the state have a policy of enforced parenthood for all or most pregnant women?

This is a question that involves human rights. To a person who believes in pro choice it is a question of the violation of the potential mother’s right to do what she will with her body. On a basic level her body is her property and the law allows for a person to preserve and protect the life that they possess.  It can also be a case of protecting the potential mother’s right to life. If there is a medical problem with the pregnancy it may be necessary to terminate the fetus. In a case where this may happen the doctors usually put the life of the mother first. Pro choice believers allow for the mother’s rights before that of the unborn fetus’.

In the view of a pro lifer it is not such an easy question to answer. If there is a medical problem then even a pro lifer would likely agree to save the mother. However, in other cases such as unwanted pregnancy due to poor living conditions, contraceptive failure or unwillingness on the part of the mother, pro lifers take a much different view from that of the pro choice believers. Pro lifers believe that the fetus is alive at the moment of conception. That as soon as the fetus exists it has the same inalienable rights that all of us possess. Thus how can one person choose death for another just because the other has no voice to be heard? A similar idea is presented:

“In 1857 the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Dred Scott Decision. By a 7-2 vote it ruled that black people were not “legal persons,” that they were the property of the slave owner, who was granted the basic constitutional right to own a slave. Abolitionists protested, to be met with this answer: “We understand you oppose slavery and find it morally offensive. That is your privilege. You don’t have to own a slave if you don’t want to. But, don’t impose your morality on the slave owner. He has the constitutionally protected right to choose to own a slave.” [2]

Slavery is abhorrent to everyone with North American society in this day and age. So how can a mother own a baby, even one that is in her body and undeveloped? Pro lifers believe that this is a key argument in the ongoing issue of abortion. They do not believe that the mother has to raise the child after carrying it to term. They support any one and everyone who chooses to but they understand that some women are not in a position to do so. Thus, there is the option of adoption. The base argument for pro lifers is that the fetus is a life and no one person has the right to choose death for another or as Abraham Lincoln answered Douglas in their right to choose debate, “No one has the right to choose to do what is wrong.” [3]

Another of the issues that prevents a clear conclusion being drawn about the abortion issue is the question: when does human life begin? There is no standard by which everyone agrees a human life begins. “Some would define it through a theologic or religious faith belief. Some would define “human life” using certain philosophic theories and beliefs. Others define “human life” by using biologic, scientific facts. Let us briefly explore the three methods of measurement.” [4]

1.      The first theory is based on religious belief. The arguments based on faith are:

a.       I believe in God. I believe He creates a soul. I believe the soul is created at conception. Therefore, I believe that human Life begins at conception.

b.      I also believe in God and a soul but I don’t believe the soul is created until birth (or some other time). Therefore, I believe that human life begins at birth (or some other time).

c.       I don’t believe in God or a soul.

The problems with using these faith based arguments towards the measure of when a human life begins are:

1. None of these premises, no matter the belief or faith that brings them up can be proven.

2. All of these premises are based on faith or belief.

3. No matter the faith or belief in question, each individual has the right to believe what they will.

Human life can also be measured in a philosophical sense. “Human life can be defined by using a wide variety of philosophic beliefs and theories. These use social or psychological rationale which can involve biologic mileposts. Examples of philosophic definitions of when human life begins include the following: When there is consciousness; when there is movement; when there is brain function, or a heartbeat; when viable; at birth; when wanted; when there has been an exchange of love; when “humanized”; when this is a person (how-ever “person” is defined); if mentally or physically normal, etc.” [5]

The problems with the philosophical measurements are similar to those of the religious measurement. None of the premises presented, although based on reason and logic, can be proven. Different people have different philosophical beliefs and all beings of good will can and do differ completely on the correct interpretation of philosophical reasoning.

Lastly is the biological measurement that can be used. “Biologic human life is defined by examining the scientific facts of human development. This is a field where there is no controversy, no disagreement. There is only one set of facts, only one embryology book is studied in medical school. The more scientific knowledge of fetal development that has been learned, the more science has confirmed that the beginning of any one human individual’s life, biologically speaking, begins at the completion of the union of his father’s sperm and his mother’s ovum, a process called “conception,” “fertilization” or “fecundation.” This is so be-cause this being, from fertilization, is alive, human, sexed, complete and growing.” [6]

Unfortunately, the theories based on biological evidence also present problems when they are used to measure when a human life begins. One of those problems is that the arguments are not based on religion or philosophy in any way. This may seem to be an agreeable part of the argument but it does not allow for those who base their decisions on belief, faith or reason. The other problem, for pro choice believers, is that the facts presented are cold and hard with no give or leeway.

With basic layout of the arguments for and against abortion laid out above it can be seen that though the pro choicer believers have some arguments that are worth considering there is still no reason for a life to be taken by any one person in favor of another. With the exception of the mother’s life being in danger or a similar extreme circumstance is uncovered within the pregnancy. During the research into this issue there were several other arguments that were presented by the pro choice believers. They are as follows:

1.      The number of abortions is relatively small.

2.      nobody has the right to impose their morals on me

3.      Abortion must be kept legal, especially for all the rape pregnancies.

4.      Aborting unwanted children reduces the number of abused children.

5.      We need to remember that we are overpopulating the planet.

Arguments like these were not presented or argued against until now due to the unstable and less than convincing stances that are taken in them. Each argument will now be addressed.

For those who believe that the number of abortions is small and not significant “a figure of 1,800,000 may be more realistic. Live births have hovered just under 4,000,000. Therefore: Almost every third baby conceived in America is killed by abortion.” ( 112 Abortion Surveillance U.S. 1988 Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, July 1991. S.K. Henshaw et al., “Abortion Services in the U.S., 1987-1988,” Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 22, No. 3 (May-June 1990), p. 103.) These figures are frightening in their scope. Every third baby in America. That does not indicate a small number of abortions. And that is a figure from only one country in the world.

For those who believe that no one has the right to impose their morals on them I agree with that statement. However, how do you justify the imposition of your morals on the fetus that has been conceived and, by scientific means, has been proven to be alive at the time of conception? The right to choose belongs to all living people. A fetus is proven to be alive at the time of conception. Therefore there is a question to be answered as to how does the fetus choose when it is not gioven the chance to even take it’s first breath? “This is a civil rights issue. It is a question of whether an entire class of living humans shall be deprived of their basic right to life on the basis of age and place of residence.” [7]

In regards to the issue of rape and incest pregnancies the amount of pregnancies that result from rape is relatively small. In fact a study done by the U.S. government showed that about 1 or2 pregnancies resulted from about 1000 rapes that were completed. Using the 170,000 figure, this translates into an overall total of 170 to 340 assault rape pregnancies a year in the entire United States. Though this issue must of course be considered with great compassion for the woman who has suffered the rape it must also be remembered that the child that was conceived has done nothing wrong. It is not responsible for the pain and grief of the mother. “We found this experience is forgotten, replaced by remembering the abortion, because it is what they did.” (M. Uchtman, Director, Suiciders Anonymous, Report to Cincinnati City Council, Sept. 1, 1981) The pain of killing an unborn baby, who is completely innocent, stays with the woman and adds to her grief and pain.

There is the theory of abortion reducing the number of abused children as well. “Not so. The landmark study on this was done at the University of Southern California. Professor Edward Lenoski studied 674 consecutive battered children who were brought to the in- and out-patient departments of that medical center. He was the first to go to the parents and study to what extent they wanted and planned the pregnancy. To his surprise, he found that 91% were planned and wanted, compared to 63% for the control groups nationally. Further, the mothers had began wearing, on the average, pregnancy clothes at 114 days compared to 171 days in the control, and the fathers named the boys after themselves 24% of the time compared to 4% for the control groups.” (E. Lenoski, Heartbeat, vol. 3, no. 4, Dec. 1980) There is no reduction in the number of abused children because of abortion. In fact, the number of unwanted children has increased since the legalization of abortion in 1970.

The argument that we are overpopulating the planet is almost ridiculous in and of itself in regards to this issue. “World population rose from 3 billion in 1960 to 5.3 billion in 1960, but food production grew even faster, outstripping population growth by 20%. The result was a 60% drop in real prices for food commodities. This is the continuation of a trend in prices that started over 100 years ago. Along with this, the incident of outright famine has dropped ten-fold since the early 1960s, and caloric intake per person has risen 25% worldwide in the same period.” (Far Eastern Economic Review, Nov. 16, 1995) Our population while having a large group of aging members due to the baby boom generation is not out of control.

Abortion is not only an undesirable solution to an unwanted pregnancy for the fetus but for the mother as well. The pain that is felt after the abortion is carried through is not just physical but mental and emotional as well. The fact that suicide is considered and attempted by women who abort babies does not promote this action as a viable alternative. The arguments presented by those who are pro choice do deserve consideration, but in the end it is seen here that there are other more favorable ways of dealing with unwanted pregnancy than to kill a child that is alive, as proven by philosophical, religious and biological measurements, and who has the same rights that any other person on this planet enjoys.

Footnotes

[1]http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them_both_26.asp#woman’s%20body

[2]http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them_both_26.asp#woman’s%20body

– ninth paragraph

[3]http:www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them_both_26.asp#woman’s%20body

– tenth paragraph

[4]http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them_both_10.asp#When%20does%20human%20life%20begin?

– first paragraph religious theories

[5]http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them_both_10.asp#When%20does%20human%20life%20begin?

– philosophic theories first paragraph

[6]http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them_both_10.asp#When%20does%20human%20life%20begin?

– Biological theories, first paragraph

[7]http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them_both_30.asp#impose

– last line on page

Bibliography

1.      Far Eastern Economic Review, Nov. 16, 1995

2.      E. Lenoski, Heartbeat, vol. 3, no. 4, Dec. 1980

3.      M. Uchtman, Director, Suiciders Anonymous, Report to Cincinnati City Council, Sept. 1, 1981

4.      Abortion Surveillance U.S. 1988 Morbidity ; Mortality Weekly Report Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, July 1991. S.K. Henshaw et al., “Abortion Services in the U.S., 1987-1988,” Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 22, No. 3 (May-June 1990), p. 103.)

5.      www.abortionfacts.com

6.      www.religioustolerance.org/abortion.htm

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