There is a heated debate about the morality and acceptability of abortion. Many people consider abortion as an act of violence that can only be associated with murder. According to this group, abortion means that a woman partially delivered an embryo and decided to have it dead just after delivering it (Rose 114). The opponents of abortion argue against the practice while stating that a decision to terminate the life of a fetus at its partial-birth stage is evil and that it cannot be justified under any conditions. On the contrary, the proponents of abortion present a contradictory perception over the legality and acceptability of abortion. However, mothers should be allowed the freedom to undergo abortion when they feel that they are not prepared to host the fetus to term or when the pregnancy exposes them to severe health complications. This essay strives to synthesize current ideas about abortion and produce a new conclusion, which is more suitable in the modern world.
Those who argue in support of abortion seek to empower women by giving them the right to control their reproductive health. As such, they suggest that women should be allowed to make personal decisions about what to do with their babies. According to the National Organization for Women, abortion should be made legal so that women can have the right to make personal decisions on whether to keep their pregnancy to term or to terminate it (Cook, Erdman and Dickens 123). Those who argue for the legalization of abortion are known to belong to the pro-choice group and they are strongly in favor of the opinion that parents should have the freedom to decide whether to have an abortion or not. Essentially, some cases of abortion involve the decision to save life. In such situations, pregnancy endangers the life of the woman. Therefore, abortion should be accepted as an option for the parents so that they can decide whether to have a child or not.
The debate about abortion has attracted many political figures throughout different times. The political elites have always presented different opinions over the legality of abortion. In 2003, President Bush imposed a ban over abortion. This ban faced a lot of criticism from the Democratic candidates, who expressed their discontent with the decision that had been made by Bush’s administration. The law signed by Bush that termed abortion illegal was conditioned by the need to uphold societal morality and to safeguard society against the death of innocent and vulnerable children. The administration termed abortion an unethical practice that could not be accepted in the society that upholds moral values. As a result, the legislation was signed in hope that it would help to restore sanity by expanding the circle of moral interests (Rose 103).
The democratic candidates expressed their discontent with the legislation based on different opinions. For example, candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts suggested that the move to criminalize abortion is unacceptable as it indicated an attempt to deny women’s rights. The candidate expressed his concern over the president’s attempt to exploit women on this issue by denying them their rights. Another candidate that argued against the legislation was Howard Dean. In his opinion, the legislation would compromise the life of women in the entire country. He also showed discontent with Bush’s decision stating that it was wrong for him to think that he could control medicine, hence dictating people’s lives. Another candidate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, termed the legislation unconstitutional, reasoning that it limits women’s right to choose. The views that were presented by the democratic candidates were also disputed by other members of the Democratic Party. Some stated that the opinions of the presidential candidates were based on their personal perceptions over the legislation and that they were not to be taken as the general position of the Democratic Party. Kristen Day, who was the director of Democrats, for Life of America, suggested that the Democratic presidential candidates were wrong to have expressed their views over abortion as though they were presenting a general opinion of the party. He termed the views as na?ve and incapable of representing all party loyalists. The Democratic presidents also faced several other criticisms from other pro-life groups. This is one of the bills that aroused a heated debate, as opposing factions attempted to justify their positions over the issue of abortion.
In the history of America, there has always been a controversy over the legalization of abortion (Cook, Erdman and Dickens 123). The debate has resulted into several conflicts and cultural animosity. Niebuhr contributes to the controversial abortion debate by making reference to the sociological point of view (Niebuhr 45). Based on this view, most social conflicts occur as a result of human selfishness and ignorance that is inherent to their makeup. This statement is true to the point that people’s ignorance often results into several misconceptions over issues. The misconceptions are based on points or arguments that are made without extensive research. Similarly, people display their selfishness by reasoning that their points of view are superior to any others’. It is worse in the scenarios where people fail to listen to the opinions given by others, which results constant conflicts. In the debate about the morality of abortion, it is essential to do analysis of the consequences of abortion for the mother and the child with keen attention on the conditions under which abortion is taken as the only option.
Among the most vital cases with regards to the rights to carry out abortion is Roe vs. Wade case (Thompson 47). The case that started in 1970 presents a situation where a pregnant woman called Norma McCorvey convened a lawsuit against the Texas law that was against abortion. The case was defended by the attorney Henry Wade. In this situation, the point was raised that the law against abortion was founded on the reasoning of the early 19th century. It was argued that the Texas anti-abortion laws were based the flouted and ill-informed reasoning. For example, they were initiated based on the opinion that provisions for abortion would make women more promiscuous. The laws were also seen to be more concerned with protecting prenatal life. As a result of the lawsuit, a judgment was reached that created a system of trimesters. The judgment was in favor of abortion within the first four months of pregnancy. It also stated that if the mothers’ health is not put in danger, a court appeal would allow for an abortion in the second trimester (Cook, Erdman and Dickens 123).
Judith Thompson also contributed to the debate about abortion by presenting a paper in 1971 to give her opinions of the matter. Thompson mainly focused on determining the exact time when an abortion should be termed as murder. This argument was presented in response to the debate over the exact time when fetus becomes a human being. The pro-life supporters suggest that the fetus should be considered alive right after the conception, while the pro-choice candidates are opposed to this idea. In her contribution to the debate about when life begins, Thompson argues that it starts several months after conception, and that during the first few weeks the fetus is simply a biological entity in its developmental stage (Thompson 47). Thompson fails to give the exact time when the fetus should be considered a human being. However, in her paper, she confirms that life begins a long time prior to birth. Based on this argument, Thompson contends that abortion in the early stage of pregnancy, before the fetus becomes a human being, should not be considered as murder. As such, she suggests that women should be allowed time to decide whether they want to bring another human being to life or to terminate their pregnancy.
To support her opinion about the need to give mothers the right to perform an abortion, Thompson gives eight points. The points are related to the debate about the morality or immorality of abortion and a situation when a pregnancy could be subjecting a mother to serious health complications. She argues that the right to perform an abortion should be left for the mother, as she is the one who has adequate knowledge about her health during pregnancy. According to her, the mother is the host body for the baby, which should be given the freedom to choose if she wants to carry the pregnancy to term or to terminate it (Thompson 47).
In conclusion, the arguments presented by Thompson show that abortion within the first 10-12 weeks should not be considered as a murder. She reasons that the fetus starts developing organs, legs, arms and other body parts during the 10th week, but that the fetus lacks consciousness, hence it should not be considered a human being. However, the pro-life activists hold that it is illegal and immoral to do an abortion at any stage of the pregnancy. The pro-choice group presents a conflicting opinion suggesting that some circumstances can justify the need to perform an abortion even with just a week left before delivery. The two factions present two extremes, upon which the debate over the legality of abortion is based. Each group has presented its opinions over the subject without a conventional agreement.
After all, the decisions made by the mothers to undergo an abortion are based on common sense that makes them believe that the fetus is not a human being. Therefore, it gives them a moral, ethical and medical right to terminate their pregnancies. Based on the legal sense, one is not considered a person until after birth. This fact gives parents the mandate to make personal decisions about their pregnancies. As such, mothers should be allowed the freedom to undergo abortion when they feel that they are not prepared to host the fetus to term or when the pregnancy exposes them to severe health complications.
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