Should abortion be legalized? Essay

Should abortion be legalized?

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            Another controversial topic to date is abortion. It has been the subject of debate for a long time between many religious groups, human rights activists and health care practitioners. These groups have contrasting and varied opinions on the topic depending on what side of the argument they take.

            Looking at the situation, if human life is to be valued, abortion should be legalized. This may seem ironic but abortion has medical benefits. In some situations, the health and wellbeing of the mother would be at risk if the pregnancy should continue and terminating the pregnancy is the only viable way so that the mother could be kept out of harm’s way. On another aspect, the baby inside the womb could be suffering from an illness, deformity or any other birth defect and being born would only cause much suffering for the child (Abortion Should be Legalized).

            For many pro-life activists, a pregnant woman should not be allowed to have abortion because of an ethical issue of ending an unborn child’s life. They also suggest that even if the baby would only be put up for adoption, the mother should persist with the abortion anyway. This would give an opportunity for couples who are unable to have a child to get an opportunity to adopt one (Abortion Should be Legalized).

            Abortion should also be legal for unwanted pregnancies caused by sexual abuse. Victims of rape should be given the right to choose whether they want to continue with the pregnancy caused by such incidents because these kind of pregnancies would remind victims of the abuse they have gone through.

This could result in mental, psychological or emotional problems for the mother. (Abortion Should be Legalized). Also, when the child is born, he/she could be neglected because the parent does not want the child.

            Completely legalizing abortion could have adverse effects as it may increase the rate of premarital sex, the rate of unsafe sex and prostitution. To cushion this possible effect, abortion should not be granted to all who want it. It should be regulated by law and be granted only as a right only for those cases wherein the health and wellbeing of the child or the mother would be compromised, pregnancies caused by rape and other similar cases of abuse. If the couple wants abortion for no particular or valid reason and they can support a child, the abortion should not be granted.

            However, according to one study done by Gilda Sedgh of the Guttmacher Institute in the United States with his colleagues at the World Health Organization (WHO), whether abortion is legal or not in a country does not necessarily affect the rate of women who undergo abortion methods. The study examined abortion trends in 1995 to 2003 and it was discovered that abortion rates were equal in both developed and underdeveloped countries. The study also found out that half of abortions worldwide use unsafe methods (Associated Press).

            Abortion has been the cause of 13 percent of maternal mortality around the world and it is estimated that around 70,000 women die each year because of complications associated with unsafe abortion methods while 5,000 are faced with permanent or temporary injury (Associated Press). If abortion would be legalized, more lives would be saved as abortion methods would be regulated which could prevent deaths associated with the illegal practice of abortion. In some third world countries, abortion is being done by people without medical knowledge and without much sanitation. Regulating abortion would result in safer abortion and pregnant women would not seek the aid of unlicensed abortionists.

            Another study from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that abortion was found be safe in countries where it is lawfully accepted and but dangerous in countries where abortion is illegal or considered as a crime. According to Dr. Paul Van Look, director of the W.H.O. Department of Reproductive Health and Research, abortion will be provided in a safe manner where it is legal but it is unsafe if it not under the rule of law because it may be done secretly under poor and unsafe conditions by poorly trained or unlicensed medical practitioners (Rosenthal).

            However, according to Randall K. O’Bannon, director of education and research at the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund in Washington, the safety of abortion is not a matter of legality. He criticized the study saying that it is because of the lack of good doctors and medicines that result in abortion-related deaths in the developing countries. He said that the researchers “equated the word ‘safe’ with ‘legal’ and ‘unsafe’ with ‘illegal’.”  to imply that legalizing abortion would solve abortion-related deaths (Rosenthal).

            According to Sharon Camp, president and chief executive officer of the Guttmacher Institute, “the only way to decrease unsafe abortion is to increase contraception” She argued that  women who undergo abortion only receive medical treatment when there are complications because of procedures going wrong (Associated Press).

            On the other hand, one major argument against abortion comes from the religious sector. Many religious groups believe that life should be valued which means that abortion goes against their religious cultures. The Catholic Church, the orthodox church, some protestant denominations, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism are all against abortion because it desecrates the value of life. Buddhism, however has expressed that they are for abortion but only for given circumstances  like when the health of either the baby or the mother is at risk. Many, but not all atheist and agnostics are for abortion because they consider it as part of human rights and it is not a sin that would be paid for in an afterlife (Religious Views on Abortion).

            Everyone has a right to choose his/her religion as well as the right to be free from religion which weakens the religious arguments against abortion. However, because most religious groups are against abortion, the voices of these people are rarely heard because religious arguments against abortion garner much support from the members of these religious groups against abortion.  Even if those who choose to have no religion do not believe in the value of life because of a religious belief or culture, they are still governed by moral and ethical standards. Atheists and agnostics cannot insist that they can have abortion even if they have no religion if the the act is classified as against the rule of law in the country.

            Based on the given arguments, abortion should be legal for special cases wherein there is a health issue or in cases of sexual harassment. Arguments against abortion does not apply to everyone especially the religious arguments. Studies even indicated that instead of being against life, abortion proves to be pro-life when it is regulated. However, it is still much better if no one had to resort to abortion and just use contraceptives to avoid such.

Works Cited

Abortion Should Be Legalized. Accessed March 30, 2008, from <


Associated Press. Abortion rates same whether legal or not. MSNBC. 18 October 2007. Accessed           March 30, 2008, from <>

Rosenthal, Elisabeth. Legal or Not, Abortion Rates Compare. The New York Times. 12 October 2007.             Accessed March 30, 2008 from <            _r=1&oref=slogin>

Religious Views on Abortion. Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Accessed March 30,          2008, from <>

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