Abortion: Two Sides Of The Story

  • Category: Social Issues
  • Words: 1760
  • Grade: 90
Abortion is an issue that will not go away. According to Muldoon (1991), over the last 25 years or so, the debate on abortion has not moved any closer to resolution. Flanders (1991) also says that abortion has been the subject of controversy throughout recorded history. In today's society, the problem continues which arouses fierce emotions on all sides. Two groups of activists have dominated the debate. On one side, the opponents of abortion, who are referred to as anti-abortion or pro-life, encourage restrictive policies on abortion, on the other, pro-choice groups direct their attempts to creating a permissive policy that allows a woman's basic right to make her own decision (Muldoon, 1991). This conflict of opinions over whether or not abortion is right or wrong has created a violent debate in society. It's an endless argument that can go on for another 25 years if society doesn't find a way to breakthrough. Examination of opposing views on abortion: pro-life's and pro-choice's points, with emphasis on moral and social issues, will be discussed. The major point of this paper however is stated clearly: abortion is a positive decision. Support for this idea will be shown through the discussion of women who have abortion, better contraception, family planning, and technology advancements.
        There are various definitions of the term, abortion. Muldoon (1991) defines it as any termination of pregnancy, beginning from the moment that the ovum is fertilized. If this definition is used, then birth control pills and other forms of contraception are considered to aid abortion because they help prevent implantation. However, other definitions are used as well. In Induced Abortion: A World Review, abortion is described as termination of pregnancy after implantation of the blastocyst in the endometrium and before the fetus has obtained viability (Henshaw, 1990, p. 76). Pro-life groups say that human life begins at conception while supporters of choice do not accept the notion that a fetus at all stages of development is a meaningful human life (Flanders, 1991). These two groups set the terms for discussion on abortion.
        According to Hurley (2001), the pro-choice philosophy maintains that abortion is moral and legal abortions are a social right. The availability of good medical abortions allow children to be born into loving homes, so that these children grow up as loving and responsible members of the community. A woman's choice to terminate a pregnancy is both empowering and liberating. It allows a woman to understand her situation, to understand her options, and her future expectations, and from here, make a fully informed decision that would benefit her most. It lets her care for her existing family, her current career, her emotional and mental well-being, and her goals. This philosophy gives women in society reproductive freedom. As an example, if legal abortions are available, unsafe or "back-alley" abortions will lower significantly. Women still continue to have abortions whether they were legal or not. It is only right to make the procedure safe for these women. Another example, the number of unwanted children would decrease if legal abortion were available. This is probably because high-risk patients, such as women with diseases, very young and older women, would have a choice to not go through a high-risk pregnancy, if abortion was an option for them. Hurley (2001) also says that children who are abused, brutalized, or neglected are more likely to become neurotic, psychotic, or criminal elements of society. Situations are always better if children are born into families that want and deserve them. It is also always better for a child not to suffer from emotional abuse of not being wanted. Another issue presented are real problems in the world-starvation, misery, and poverty (Hurley, 2001, p.19). It is important to understand why there is a need to control unwanted pregnancies and to only have children who can be well taken care of. For these reasons, legal abortion is a woman's social right; the act itself should also be considered moral. Good quality abortions are a big development not only to individual health, but also toward an ethical and proper society.
        The pro-life position generally promotes the idea that a fetus is a legal person. According to Flanders (1991), pro-life activists believe a fetus is a person and that forcing it form the womb and disposing of it is murder. Pro-life groups believe that abortion cannot be justified under any reason because it constitutes the killing of an innocent human being. These anti-abortion extremists believe that no one can be absolutely more innocent than a human being at the very beginning of life. The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb and most of the time, the mother herself make the decision to abort the child, which makes her a murderer.
        The church plays a major role in anti-abortion. The Vatican Council [Highest Church] condemns abortion, sayings: "From the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care, while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes" (Hurley, 2001, p.27). Abortion, therefore, always brings about moral disaster. Pope John Paul II of the Roman Catholic Church states that abortion cannot be justified under any circumstance because it constitutes the killing of an innocent human being at the very beginning of life (Hurley, 2001). The scriptures [i.e. bible] show such a great respect for the human being in the mother's womb that they require as a logical consequence that God's commandment "you shall not kill" be extended to the unborn child as well (Hurley, 2001). The church believes that under no circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make abortion the proper solution.
        This conflict of opinions, over whether or not abortion is right or wrong, gives way to way of one of the biggest issues in society. The question remains, is abortion right or is it always wrong? One should be able to understand why sometimes, abortion may be necessary. In turn, society may start to accept that abortion may be a positive decision after all.
        First, who gets abortions? Lunneberg (1992) writes: women in all ages; rich and poor; women in all occupations-doctors, lawyers, and day-care workers, Sunday school teachers; mothers who are the envy of other mothers; even religious women-Catholics, Jews, Muslims, etc. have abortions. As mentioned earlier, if a woman has the choice and the social right to terminate a pregnancy, this right empowers and liberates them. Sometimes, abortion may be the necessary in certain difficult situations. As an example, sexually abused women who accidentally get pregnant need respect from society. In some conditions, women probably regret having to make such a difficult choices. All society could do is to treat them with respect and give them the dignity they deserve.
        Another point to examine is the use of contraceptives. Statistics show that 3 out of 4 condoms break during intercourse; birth control pills are 98% safe (Lunneburg, 1992). Therefore, even with the best medicine and technology, contraceptives are never 100% safe. What happens if these products fail? What would happen to the women who are being careful in the first place? How do they go about making a choice when they don't have options? In some aspect, abortion may be the last resort for these women. These women or couples do not intend to get pregnant and to not to give them the right to have their freedom of choice would be cruel and against human rights.
        The next issue to discuss is family planning. As an example, there are mothers, who have several very young children, if after the 3rd or 4th child, she decides to have an abortion, would that be wrong? Sometimes, these women feel that they won't fulfill the roles of being a mother if they had all these kids at one time. Most women have abortion because they can't afford to have a child or feel they are not ready for parenthood. Whether it's out of a want or need, or what works for the family or what works for her, what's ultimately right at that time is to not have a baby.
        Lastly, technology is advancing rapidly in today's society. Here's a situation, a woman wishes to have an abortion-not because she does not want to have a child but she does not want to have a disabled child. With technology we have today, it's possible to know if a fetus is developing normally even at six weeks of pregnancy. If a mother-to-be decides that she wont be able to provide the best care for her unborn child, then society shouldn't have a right to stop her from her decision. On the other hand, if the mothers-to-be are high-risk-mothers or they may be suffering from illness/diseases, and if they believe that they can't provide the proper care that these children should have, they should have the right to decide so.
        To conclude, abortion is an ongoing societal issue and will still continue for many years to come. The two groups, pro-choice and pro-life activists, play an important role in the conflict. Pro-life groups discourage the concept of abortion and believe that a fetus is a legal person and that abortion is murder. Pro-choice groups believe that abortion may sometimes be necessary. Abortion is a moral decision. Legal abortion is a social right. Through the discussion of women who get abortion, better contraceptives, family discussion, advanced technology and diseases/illnesses, it has been shown that abortion may be a positive decision after all. Under such difficult situations, abortion may be the last answer. It may not always be negative; these women may see it as a positive and enriching experience. Their choices should be treated with respect. Society should support them at this difficult situation. Finally, the key point is, both pro-life and pro-choice groups have one thing in common, these two want to have a society where fewer abortions are performed. This in turn will lower death rates from unsafe abortions, both mothers-to-be and the unborn. If society starts to understand the reasons why these women get abortions, then finally these women may live a decent life.

1.        Flanders, Carl N. Abortion. New York: Facts on File, Inc. 1991
2. Henshaw, Stanley K. "Induced Abortion: A World Review". Family Planning
Perspectives. March-April 1990: 76-89.
3.        Hurley, Jennifer A. The Ethics of Abortion. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press,
Inc. 2001
4. Lunneborg, Patricia. Abortion: A Positive Decision. New York: Bergin &
Garvey. 1992
5.        Muldoon, Maureen. The Abortion Debate in the United States and Canada. New
York: Grand Publishing.1991

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