Abortion is an on-going problem, a source of social and legal discord, moral uncertainty, medical and psychiatric confusion, and personal anguish. If many individuals have worked through a position they find satisfactory, the world as a whole, and most societies have not. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide. Many people, particularly women s rights supporters believed the decision would put an end to dangerous self-induced and back alley abortions performed by unqualified abortionists. Abortion is becoming the great moral issue of the century. Approximately 1.
6 million abortions are performed annually in the United States. The vast majority of these abortions are performed because women are too young or too poor to raise a child. Other women may decide on abortion because they are without a partner, or they are in school or in a demanding career. Supporters of abortion see individual choice as central to the debate of being regulated, if a women cannot choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, a condition which affects her own body and possibly her entire life, then she has lost one of her most basic human rights. These supporters of abortion believe that while the fetus is a potential life, its life cannot be placed on the same level with that of the woman. On the other side opponents, of abortion argue that the fetus is human and therefore endowed with the same human rights as the mother.
Stated simple, they believe that when a society doesn t regulate and legalizes abortion, it is sanctioning murder. For many people actively involved in the issue of regulating abortion, the most important issue is whether abortion is moral. Activists who oppose abortion believe it is the killing of an unborn child and can never be justified. Opponents of abortion believe the unborn child s right to life outweighs the woman s right to choose abortion. Abortion is not merely the removal of some tissue from a woman s body Abortion is not the removal of a living thing that would become human if it were allowed to remain inside the woman s body. Abortion is the destruction of an unborn baby.
A new human life begins as soon as the egg has been fertilized. Pregnancy is the period for this new human life to mature, not to become human, it already is. The church understands that there are circumstances in which some people believe that abortion is the lesser of evils. The church recognizes that many hardships can occur with pregnancy. No matter how difficult the alternatives, they cannot justify the direct killing of an innocent human being. A child unwanted in the pre-born phase may become wanted later.
There are many times when we have heard of women with unplanned pregnancies on the one hand considering abortions on the other hand rejecting the idea of keeping the baby now and then giving him up for adoption after birth. The same child unwanted in the womb will then be very much wanted when he has emerged from the womb, when he can be seen and touched, when it is psychologically easier to identify with the baby. A child unwanted by his natural mother even after his birth may be wanted by others to adopt him. Thousands of couples would like to adopt babies.
The person recommending the abortion should ask himself how he would feel if someone forced such a decision on him. A woman s freedom over her own body stops where another body, another life begins. The life of her child. Choice also implicitly requires a decision-making process, with knowledge of all the facts and the options and not made through by social regulation. Yet, those who advocate abortion protest vehemently against informed consent legislation, which would require a woman to know exactly what is involved in abortion.
They argue that to give a woman information about the developing life within her and the procedure involved clouds the decision making process. Certainly facts such as babies have beating hearts at eighteen days, have brain waves at forty days and suck their thumbs at six weeks might have the effect of dissuading a woman from choosing to destroy life. Babies are born at twenty and twenty-one weeks have survived and close to one-third of babies born at twenty-four weeks survive. Yet abortions are performed throughout the entire stage of pregnancy.
Americans are shocked to learn that forty percent of all abortions, 640, 000 each year, are second, third and fourth abortions. Most people are decidedly against abortion as means of birth control, yet half of all women getting abortions admit neither they nor their partner used any form of birth control. The pro-life movement exists because abortion is not just a political position or a choice, but a life and death moral issue. Abortion is a surgical procedure in which a woman s body is forcibly entered and her pregnancy is forcibly terminated. Because it is intrusive, and because it disrupts a natural process (pregnancy), abortion poses both short term and long term risks to the health and well being of the aborting woman. Abortion is never without risks.
Over one hundred potential complications have been associated with abortion. Some of these complications can be immediately spotted, such as a puncture of the uterus or other organs, convulsions or cardiac arrest. Other complications reveal themselves within a few days such as slow hemorrhage, pulmonary embolisms, infection and fever. Women who may appear unaffected by an abortion after a one-year follow-up may be found to be severely affected by the abortion as many as ten to fifteen years later. The term fetus is in itself a perfectly proper term, meaning young one. For some it is a fetus instead of a child that a woman is carrying.
It is politically easier to speak of destruction of a fetus than of a child. Destroying a fetus does not sound so bad. Abortion for right activists believe that abortion is not an agonizing moral dilemma, but simply a necessary and important right that all women must be allowed to exercise. Easy access to abortion improves women s quality of life because women are not forced through legislation, to bear and take care of children that they do not want or cannot afford to have. For pro-choice advocates the right of women to have an abortion clearly and irrevocably must triumph over the rights of the unborn fetus.
A seven-week-old fetus is different from a seven-month-old one. We can tell this by the way we respond to the involuntary loss of one as against the other. We have different language for the experience of the involuntary expulsion of the fetus from the womb depending upon the point of gestation at which the experience occurs. If it occurs early in the pregnancy, we call it a miscarriage, if late we call it a stillbirth. These are some undeniable bad consequences of a woman being forced through legislation to bear a child against her will. First is the trauma of going through a pregnancy and giving birth to a child who is not desired, a trauma more long lasting than that experienced by some women who experience an early abortion.
The grief of giving up a child at its birth and at nine months after the child has been felt moving inside one s body, should not be forced on any woman or indeed encouraged by public policy. Throughout history sex has resulted in unwanted pregnancies, and women have always aborted. Making abortion illegal once again, will result in the deaths of women as it has done in the past. The sexual revolution unleashed by the birth control pill, and newer devices on the horizon, is here to stay, but accidents will always happen. Today, in these new and different times, each birth must be given the utmost care and forethought. If we care so little about the birth of a child that we let it happen by accident, and at a time when we are not prepared or mature enough for the daily and almost life long demands of parenthood, then we deeply consider the process of delaying a soul s incarnation into our lives.
This is not just for selfish motives but for the best interests of the unborn and our world. The act of canceling an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy is a way of saying to that soul that their time has not yet arrived. Millions of families and the many children that result from procreation are becoming dependent on public assistance in cities around the world. Only contraception, abortion and family planning are the realistic weapons in our continuing battle for population balance. The legalization of abortion brought with it a dramatic decrease in the total number of abortion-related deaths. In 1965 when abortion was still illegal nationwide except in cases of life endangerment, a minimum of 193 women died from illegal abortions and illegal abortions accounted for nearly 17 percent of all deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth in that year.
Although deaths from legal abortions are extremely rare, legal abortion like any surgical procedure entails some risk. Six of the 1. 6 million having a legal abortion in 1985 are known to have died. Despite the improvements in the safety of legal abortions, some abortions carry more risk than others do. The timing of the abortion is one of the most important factors influencing the risk to the woman. More than half of all abortions are performed at or before eight weeks of pregnancy when the procedure is the safest.
Future outlooks on abortion are always changing with hopes of improvement. When Clinton moved into the White House in January 1993, he lifted the Reagan-era gag rule on abortion clinics and also ordered the food and drug administration to begin testing RU 486, the abortion pill which when legalized, would make it easier for a woman to privately and quietly choose abortion. As the nation moved into the 1996 presidential election there were growing signs that abortion rights would emerge as a divisive and destructive issue. Candidates are always in fear of pissing someone off by choosing one side over another. Americans United for Life filed a citizens petition demanding that the FDA slow down the testing of RU 486; with hopes that the final decision to legalize or outlaw the drug would come after the 1996 election with a new anti-choice Republican congress was voted in.
With these changes, women in 32 states could see their rights eroded because of the declared intent of conservative governors and legislative majorities to pass newly restrictive abortion legislation. The experiences of women in states that have such legislation on the books, show evidence that the restrictions are having a negative impact on women s lives and health. These legislation s confuse the patient and put her under more stress. One factor in the shrinking number of clinics is that abortion as a business is ever less profitable. While the cost of equipment, staff, rent, and just about everything else in the country has increased, the cost of abortion has only doubled now, averaging about $300-$400. Not only are security costs skyrocketing, but also as violent attacks increase, clinics are finding liability insurance ever more expensive and elusive.
Since it was introduced in Europe almost a decade ago, RU 486 has been seen by many American pro-choices as the veritable silver bullet. The ultimate weapon to defeat and diffuse the pro-life movement by decentralizing the procedure out of abortion clinics and into individual doctors offices. But as legislation came closer, the RU 486 didn t provide any better solution. It may increase women s access to abortion, but it won t provoke the full-scale abortion revolution some once thought it would.
Even the most optimistic projection was that only forty percent of current surgical abortions would be replaced by the drug. Abortions should be kept legal with some restrictions that should be regulated through legislation. Abortions should not be performed by the third trimester, when the fetus can live outside the mother s body. Late abortions should be decided case by case, and that by having them early in the pregnancy, is by far safer as well as legal. There should be some regulation for teens to need parental consent. Another big issue is having taxpayer money go towards abortions.
I think it is better to contribute a little now than a lot more in the long run. If the baby is born and the parent can not afford the baby, the taxpayers will pay for the mother and her baby through the welfare system. Abortion is the taking of a human life, but sometimes this decision must and should be made. It should continue to be a right to choose. A woman should not have to be forced to do something either way through regulation that is enforced by the government. We need to view abortion as one of those anguished decisions in which human beings struggle to do the best they can and have the right to do in trying circumstances.
Current regulation is still upheld in the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade (1973). At that time a divided U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional right to privacy includes a pregnant woman s right to choose to have an abortion, which government may not restrict unless it narrowly tailors regulation to protect a compelling governmental interest.
The government s interest in protecting the health of women having abortions after the first 3 months of pregnancy may be sufficiently compelling to justify some regulation of abortion; and the government s interest in protecting a viable fetus rights may be sufficiently compelling to prohibit most abortions during the last 3 months of pregnancy. In following cases, the Court has used various tests to determine whether state and federal laws regulating abortions are reasonable restrictions on the right to choose an abortion. Generally, laws which the Court characteristics as merely intended to deter abortions are declared unconstitutional. However, in cases when a law can be clearly justified as necessary to protect a woman s health or a viable fetus, the Court is more likely to uphold its constitutionality. Amending the Courts decision, over 26 states have enacted laws requiring doctors to notify one or both parents before performing an abortion on a minor. A divided Supreme Court has found most such laws constitutional, provided they include a procedure for a minor who wants to avoid parental involvement to ask a judge for permission to get a secret abortion.
Many issues have risen between pro-life and pro-choice advocates since the Courts decision in 1973. They range from issues concerning the means of abortion, such as the abortion pill, to issues of when a life is a life, and moral values. These controversies will not end soon even though current legislation has modified the original decision of the Court ruling that women cannot abort after the second tri-master. REFERENCES Cooper, M. (1997, August). The Changing Landscape of Abortion.
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Abortion & the Politics of Motherhood. University of California Press: Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. Pp. 42-44. Tribe, L. (1996).
Abortion the Clash of Absolutes. Pp. 39-41. P.
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