Pro Chioce Abortion Essay, Research Paper
Pro Choice Abortion
Abortion is a very controversial issue. In order to understand the issues pertaining to abortion, you must first understand the definition and the stages of abortion. The controversy primarily revolves around the legality and the morality of abortion. For the purposes of this paper, arguments for abortion are in regards to abortions conducted prior to 134 days of gestation.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has defined abortion as “the expulsion or extraction of all (complete) or any part (incomplete) of the placenta or membranes, with or without an abortus, before the 20th week (before 134 days) of gestation.” 1 This definition is based on the fact that a developing human organism cannot survive outside the womb prior to the 20th week or 134 days and therefore premature birth is not even an elective option. There have been rare cases of survival at this stage of development, but none before. Further supporting this definition is the fact that organ development that is necessary for survival occurs between twenty and twenty-four weeks of gestation.
Both morally and legally, the stage of abortion is often a critical factor. There are basically three stages of abortion. First and most common, are abortions conducted prior to the 85th day or within the first trimester. Second and some times referred to as late term abortions, are abortions conducted between the 85th and 134th day or second trimester. Finally, third trimester abortions, sometimes referred to as partial birth abortions. Many people believe that third trimester abortion is actually the killing of premature babies who have a remote chance of surviving outside the womb. These abortions are rare and usually only occur when it is medically necessary in order to save the mother s life and the baby is already dead or deformed.
Understanding the definition of abortion, as well as, the different stages of abortion should offer certain insight of the issues surrounding abortion. First, there is the issue concerning a persons legal rights. People have the right to make any choices they want until someone else s rights come into play. They have the right to wear what they want, to choose the color of their house, or even sexual behaviors. Even if someone disagrees with the choices made, they still have the right to make those choices as long as they do not interfere with the rights of another person. The question is Whose rights are being infringed upon?.
Opposers to abortion claim that they are protecting the rights of the zygote/embryo/fetus from having its life terminated. However, if the embryo is not yet a
person than how does it even have rights to be infringed upon. If the embryo
were a fully-endowed human, there would still be the legal question about who has the right to control the body; the zygote/embryo/fetus or the woman?
If someone with rare disease lost an organ or needed a blood transplant and found
just the right person, but the owner did not want to donate, no person would say that the
person who wants the organs has the right to demand them, even if his life was at risk. It
is solely the choice of the donating individual. How then, is this situation different from abortion?
Some might argue that a women consented to pregnancy by allowing the embryo to enter her body by engaging in the sex act. Consent to sex is not the same as consent to pregnancy because only a small percentage of sex acts actually result in pregnancy. A
woman who has sex, only invites the sharing of sexual pleasure, not the embryo which
accidentally results. Even if a woman got pregnant on purpose, there is no reason why she
could not change her mind. After all, she is an actual human person compared to
non-perceptive cell tissue that has the potential of becoming a human.
When a man forcibly enters and uses a womans body against her will we call it rape. Even though it only lasts for a few moments, the emotional scars can last for years. Yet there are still people out there who think that women should be forced to carry an unwanted child for nine long months. The results of an unwanted child birth can potentially traumatize a women just as long as a rape would. Also consider what the child would go through being born unwanted.
Next, we move on to the moral issue involved with abortion. The question is often asked When does human life actually begin?. Opposers to abortion claim that life begins at conception, which is entirely incorrect.2 Human life began before conception. The sperm and egg are both alive, active, and genetically human. All arguments used to claim that life begins at conception can equally be used to support that human lives begin before conception, and that being so, how do you propose to save all the sperms or eggs that are wasted and die without being fertilized? Making the statement that life is equal to a person reduces the value of a human down to the same as a bacteria, insect, or virus. Asking when life begins is the wrong question to ask in this moral issue. The correct question should be when does that life become a person.
Is a newly formed embryo more similar to a sperm and egg, or a baby? Sperm cells and egg cells both can be frozen and later revived for future use. Likewise, a fertilized human embryo can be frozen and then later revived. A human who is frozen dies and can not be later revived. Embryos are more like sperms and eggs than human beings. The difference between humans and embryos is the addition of a spirit or soul.3 When a soul departs from a person it leaves and never returns, which does not matter if the being does not yet have a soul. So what happens then to the soul of a fertilized embryo when it is frozen, stored for years, then later revived? Is it somehow later pulled from heaven. when revived? An embryo is no more equal to a baby than an acorn is to an oak.4 Each has the potential of becoming the other, but that does not mean that it will happen.
Suppose I invited some friends over to have a little fun. They come over and start showing unacceptable behavior that makes me angry. I have as much right to make them leave as I would if they were a burglar. Just because they were invited and once welcomed there does not make me lose the right to control who stays in my house. Likewise, a woman should have the right to control what uses her body. A womans body is far more personal than a house.
Finally, lets discuss the issue of whether or not abortions cause harm. A fetus cannot perceive pain. The neural structures necessary to register and record sensations of pain transmitted by the appropriate nerves either do not exist or are not functioning before the fifth month of gestation.5 Therefore, with no perception of pain, and no loss of an individual personality, the act of abortion causes no immediate harm to the fetus.
Though there is no harm to the fetus, there may be unacceptable medical risks to the mother. These risks, however, are no different than the risks presented by any other surgical procedure, including out-patient surgeries. The risks of death or permanent disability are far greater for a woman who carries a fetus to term and bears a child, prematurely or not, than for a woman who aborts before the third trimester of her pregnancy. I feel that the risks, involved with abortion, do not warrant denying a woman the right to choose to have a baby or not.6
In conclusion, I believe that an elective termination of pregnancy prior to the 20th week of gestation does not violate anyone’s rights, affords no substantial harm, and may potentially offer some limited positive good. Therefore, I believe that abortion should remain a viable alternative for women and should not be illegal.
1 Encyclopedia Britannica
2 Women s Reproductive Self-Determination, T.F. Barans
3 Abortion is not Immoral and should not be Illegal, Richard C. Carrier