Abortion Essay, Research Paper
Of all of the issues being debated in the world today, perhaps the most controversial and intensely debated is abortion. This issue has forced its way into living rooms across the country through television, newspapers, and especially political campaigns. It has divided the community on many principles including people’s morals, ethnic background, and especially religious beliefs. However, many times people are too quick to jump on the bandwagon with one side or the other. They do not study the issue in order to develop a better understanding of what it is and why it may, or may not, be needed. This may be because of the fact that most people do not wish to go against public opinion. Perhaps they do not give the issue the attention it deserves, because someone has told them that it is a sin and should be banned from the face of the earth. Either way, this is a foolish course of action to take. Without looking at the history, uses, and the actual course of a procedure, it is impossible to give a valid and educated opinion on whether or not it should be practiced in today’s medical field. Should they choose to look into the issue for themselves, people will realize that there are many methods of abortion practiced in today’s medical field.
Of the many different methods of abortion practiced in modern medicine, the most successful and safe procedures are carried out during the first trimester, or twelve-week period of fetal development. Of course birth control pills are the safest form of avoiding pregnancy. However, when this fails operations are necessary to prevent giving birth. The most common procedure, making up around 98% of the first trimester abortions, is Suction Aspiration. This is an operation in which the cervix is dilated, and a vacuum is used to remove the undeveloped fetus from the mother’s womb. This is usually the most successful, as well as the safest procedure put to use these days. However, after the first trimester, the same procedure cannot be used to perform an abortion. During the second and early third trimester there is a different set of options that women have to choose from. During this time, the most common procedure is Dilation and Evacuation. Using forceps to remove the developing fetus performs this operation. Finally, if the mother has waited until her third trimester, she must get a Urea Injection. This injection consists of various chemicals, which will kill the fetus, and it is then surgically removed. Doctors encourage women to have abortions performed within the first trimester, because of the increasing complications involved in the procedures, as time goes by. This is also because of the fact that these operations are never one hundred percent safe, or successful. In cases in which other forms of abortion are unsuccessful, the woman will need to have a Hysterotomy done. This last resort procedure requires the fetus to be removed surgically, and presents the most danger to the mother’s health (Poppema 56,57). These procedures, although very advanced and complicated, are actually not all that revolutionary. Abortion has been practiced since ancient times around the world as a last-resort method of birth control.
In its beginnings, abortion was a very crude and bloody procedure. However, with all of the advancements that have been made in science, and the medical field, the procedure has been reduced to simply taking a pill, if taken during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. Still, the termination of pregnancy has been considered to be against many religious beliefs. However, in most countries no legislation was passed concerning abortion until the 1800’s. During this period, most of Europe, Asia, and the United States had enacted laws that banned abortion under any circumstances. In the 20th century, however, these countries began to take a more relaxed approach to dealing with the issue. In 1920, the USSR legalized abortion. Japan, Asia, Canada, the U.S., and much of Eastern Europe followed the USSR in the legalization of abortion. In the U.S., new regulations were put on abortion stating that the procedure may only be practiced if the woman has been raped, or if the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. These laws were expanded by a Supreme Court decision in Mississippi, in 1973, (Roe vs. Wade) that legalized abortion, for any reason, before the 24th week of pregnancy, which is the point where the fetus is considered viable (Ladd 24). This “point of viability” is the main source of debate between the two sides of this issue. However, the question that people should ask themselves when debating abortion is, “Should laws, that will affect the entire community, be written according to one group of people’s ideas and beliefs?”
Those who support the elimination of abortion have constantly made it a point that, according to their beliefs, it does in fact constitute murder. Opponents of abortion argue that as soon as the fetus is conceived, it has all of the rights of a normal human being, and that stopping its development constitutes murder (Dworkin 43). However, while this is a strong point to argue by Christian values, the fact remains that it is simply one opinion held among all of the people in the world. Again, the “point of viability”, or when the fetus is considered to be a normal human being, varies with each ethnic group that is studied. For instance, in Northern Ghana, a child is not considered to be human until seven days after its birth. Also, in the Mojave Desert, Native American tribes believe that a child cannot be killed once it is old enough to be breast-fed (Dworkin 47). Since their values and morals are structured around diverse belief systems, each ethnic group of the world has its own opinion about when human life begins. Furthermore, all of the examples shown above help to prove that although a person’s rights have been well defined, the point at which these rights are bestowed upon someone is dependant on when and where the child is being born. The United State’s government was set up to accommodate people of all races, genders, nationalities, and beliefs. Any legislation based on the whim of one group would go directly against this principle. However, making abortion illegal is not the anti-abortion movement’s only goal.
Not all pro-life supporters are as extreme in their methods of persuasion as others. Actually, there has been a large movement, initiated by the churches and various other organizations, to encourage young people in deciding to take a vow of abstinence (not having sex until one is married). This helps eliminate a large percentage of teen pregnancies that end in abortion every year. Most communities have developed youth programs in order to give young people in the community a group of peers that will support their decision to practice abstinence. This is especially helpful in today’s society, which is full of sexual pressure and curiosity. Another strong point, which anti-abortionists have made, is that most people do not take sex seriously enough. This is because of the fact that people can always have an abortion if they are accidentally impregnated, and no longer have to accept responsibility for what they have done. However, while the encouragement of abstinence is a good step in the right direction for American society, an overnight change in the way people act and behave is a very unrealistic goal. It will take a long time, and the involvement of families all over the country in order to achieve this goal. Perhaps, when this goal has been achieved, regulations on abortion can be more easily compromised and dealt with. However, this country, with all of its diversity and freedoms, will not be changed so easily. The debate about this issue will likely continue for many years to come. On the other side of the debate over abortion is the pro-choice community.
As opposed to the pro-life view of representing the child’s rights over the mother’s, pro-choice advocates believe that the expecting mother has the right to choose whether or not she wishes to give birth to the baby (Ladd 67). This is a very strong point for a number of reasons. First of all, if there is any doubt whether or not the mother wishes to deliver her baby, then it is most likely that she is not going to be willing to make the sacrifices needed in order to support a child and raise it well. There should be no doubt in the parent’s mind that they will be willing to love the child, and also do what it takes to see that it is raised adequately. If the parent in question is not stable, or responsible, enough to support a child, it is not practical to force them into having it. This is especially in today’s society, in which unwanted children have been thrown out of second-floor windows and into dumpsters. It seems crueler to bring a baby into a world that shows it no love, than to simply stop the child’s development before it is even alive. Basically, defenders of abortion believe that a pregnant woman has the right to decide what she will do with her baby. Pro-choice supporters have often been met with resentment, hatred, and even violence from those who protest abortion. For instance, in 1999 a doctor at an abortion clinic was shot and killed on his way to work. Later that year, opponents of abortion bombed another clinic to get their message heard (Zeirs 42). On their way into the buildings, women are sometimes forced to wade through a crowd of protesters who are screaming profanities at them and calling them murderers (Zeirs 42).
These instances of senseless violence and harassment only fuel the fire for more debates over abortion. It is certain that abortion is an issue that will be debated over for years to come. With both sides of the argument being put forth with so much enthusiasm and tirelessness, unless some compromise can be made, the violence that has been seen already will surely escalate. Which means that a compromise must be made between the two parties before more innocent people are hurt or killed. The fact that innocent people have lost their lives, simply because they had a different opinion than someone else, is just ridiculous. Anti-abortionists have made their point very clear. Now they should simply let the women involved decide, for themselves, what they wish to do with their lives.
1)Dworkin, Ronald D. Life’s Domain: An Argument About Abortion, Euthanasia, and Individual Freedom. New York Printing Press, 1994.
2)Ladd, Everett. Public Opinion About Abortion: Twenty Five Years After Roe Vs. Wade. American Enterprises Inst. Press, 1997.
3)Poppema, Suzanne. Why I Am An Abortion Doctor. U of California P, 1996.
4)Cochran, Linda. Forgiven and Set Free. New York: Harper, 1999.
5)Kleinig, John. Valuing Life. Alabama UP, 1991.
6)Zeirs, Cliff. “Keep Your Distance: In a Blow To Pro-Lifers, The High Court Lets Stand an Exclusion Zone Against Anti-Abortion Protesters” Time. 11 Feb. 1994.
7) Benjamin, John. “Crime: A Clinic Built Like A Fortress” Time. 1 Jan. 1996