Abortion A Complex Issue Essay, Research Paper
Abortion is a complex question of rights, of the mother and the baby, as well as the
many legal and moral issues that appear to be unresolvable. For many centuries the abortion issue has troubled people because it is a complex issue of “life” and who determines when life begins or ends. Strong opinions exist and are expressed by the “radical” pro-life people and the “radical” pro-life people who represent the two extreme views of abortion. The majority of Americans fall in between the two extremes. The only way to protect everyone s rights is to find a balance between the two “radical” extremes. There are several major points concerning abortion and this paper will attempt to outline the most important ones and draw a conclusion from these arguments on the morality of abortion.
Personhood is when the newborn baby is considered alive. Many people believe that once you have decided Medical science has tried to delineate when life begins, however it has raised more questions than it has answered. Extreme pro-choice people believe that the baby is not a life until it is born while more moderate pro-choice proponets argue that the fetus is alive at the 20 to 24 week point, or point of “viability”. Within the pro-choice group there are disagreements on when life actually begins and for this reason it is up to the individual to make that decision about her baby and her body. Pro-life people argue thaFrom a purely medical standpoint life begins when the fetus can survive outside the uterus or 24 weeks. Viability
Pro-life people argue that because every person is a gift from God and life begins at conception. If you kill that life at any point after conception than you are committing murder. They believe that every person is created in God s own image and is not the property or act of either parent, but a creation of God. If the mother decides to terminate that potential life she is committing murder. From a biblical perspective, one of the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith is “Thou shalt not kill”, a command that came directly from God. Therefore, it is a sin against God to go against him and have an abortion, thus killing that life. It is also a legal crime to commit murder, hence, it is the government s responsibility to protect the unborn s rights and make it against the law to have an abortion, except when the mother s life is in danger.
The goal of pro-life people is to overturn Roe vs. Wade, and pass federal legislation, in the form of a constitutional amendment, that would make abortion illegal and a punishable offense for a woman to receive an abortion for any reason, other than when her life is in danger. Pro-life supporters believe the doctor who performed the abortion should be charged with murder. Some believe that if abortion is illegal, it will reduce promiscuity among unmarried girls and women because of the fear of getting an illegal abortion and the increased shame of knowingly doing something that is against the law.
There are some people that consider themselves pro-life even though they believe that a woman has a right to a legal abortion if she had been raped or a victim of incest. Some in pro-life also approve and encourage the use of birth control. A dispute exists among the pro-life views, for example, the Catholic Church teaches that unnatural birth control should not be used. They teach that it interferes with God s plan of abstinence until marriage and families should have as many children as God wants them to raise. The pro-life advocates believe that civil law should reflect God s law and the unborn right s are to be protected above the mother s rights because of its defenselessness.
Pro-choice people, on the other hand, believe in the inalienable rights of the mother. There are many factions within the pro-choice issue but the common thread they all share is they do believe abortion should be legal until the fetus is alive. There are many ways to define when life starts, we can decide from a religious standpoint, as in the case of the pro-life argument, or from a medical standpoint, which is what many pro-choice people do. People in ancient times decided that abortion was not an illegal act if performed before “quickening”, the first recognizable movement of the fetus in utero, appearing usually from the 16th to the 18th week of pregnancy-. However, as medical science has advanced it can positively be determined that a fetus develops brain waves at 8 weeks, which is the medical definition of life. Also around 8 weeks the face begins to form with rudimentary eyes, ears, mouth and tooth buds. The fetus also is developing spinal chord, nervous system developing gastrointestinal system, and lungs. Some pro-choice people believe that life starts at 8 weeks because the fetus has the most basic beginnings of organs needed to sustain life, and if you allow the mother to terminate the pregnancy then you are allowing her to kill that potential human being. For this reason they believe that after 8 weeks abortion should be illegal and if this were the case 90% of all abortions would be eliminated. The problem with this is however, is most women do not even know they are pregnant until at least 6-8 weeks. This is the result of irregular menstruation cycles, mistaking spotting for a light cycle, or considering a missed cycle as a precursor to menopause.
The second definition of life is the point of viability or the ability to sustain a meaningful life outside of the womb. This generally occurs around the 24th week but has been known to occur as early as the 20th week. From a medical position the baby can t feel pain before its 21st week because it has not developed the rudimentary connections of the lower and higher centers of the brain. Because it has not developed these synapses to feel pain it has not developed the proper synapses for human consciousness, thinking, problem solving, and language. In the words of the philosopher Desecrates “I think, therefor I am” and without the ability to think one can not exist. The counter argument to this is that brain damaged individuals with minimal synapses still feel pain. However this is only a theory and it could be that it is not pain that is being felt but rather the bodys reaction to nerve stimulus.
An overwhelming majority of the American people believe abortion should happen as rarely as possible and also consider the abortion laws as they stand today acceptable, in fact a certain survey* reported that of adults questioned who believe an abortion should remain legal if:
92% The mother s health is seriously endangered.
86% Pregnancy caused by rape or incest.
83% Strong chance of serious defect in the baby.
*National Opinion Research Center, May-June, 1989
In an opinion poll* even religious people, both Catholic and Protestant, 48% and 44% respectfully, believe the laws should remain the same and only 13% and 9% respectfully, believe abortion should not be permitted at all. People, who consider religion very important, 49% of Catholics and 49% of Protestants, believe that abortion should be legal in such cases as rape, incest and life of the mother. Politicians who consider themselves pro-life with these exceptions do seem to represent the majority public opinion. * CBS News/New York Times Poll, April1989.
Of all abortions 80% are performed between the 8th and 12th week of gestation. The basic systems are present in the fetus and according to the medical interpretation although brain waves exist there are no synapses. It is believed that the fetus can not feel pain or be aware of it s existence nor it is viable outside the womb. 1% of all abortions occur after the 20th week of gestation. Within the Catholic Church, there is a dispute about when the baby receives a soul, however the Church Doctrine states that abortion is wrong.
In this difficult and complex issue both sides use the psychological consequences to discount the others argument. However, whether one gives the child up for adoption or has an abortion there can be lifelong regrets, guilt and doubt about the decision. If the mother decides to keep the child, the statistics show that she is more likely unmarried and lacks the ability to take care of herself and the baby. There is a higher potential for child abuse caused by resentment and frustration and despair. However, these consequences and the inconvenience of having an unplanned baby whether married or not is not a compelling or justifiable moral reason for abortion. However, the legal status currently held by the courts is that availability is constitutionally upheld. The American people are deeply divided over this issue and are evenly split on whether abortion should be legally available for other than specific and unusual circumstances. Abortion should not be considered a form of birth control and it is appalling that as many as 45% of all abortions are second time pregnancies. The goal of society should be that all conceptions create children who are wanted, loved and provided for in a world that values the family.