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centuries old. Disagreements between public policy, morality and
individual behavior on this issue existed even at the time of Plato and
Aristotle. In the past few decades abortion issue has been brought into
sharper focus and has been vigorously debated. A number of factors are
responsible for this but perhaps the major one has been that associated
with the sexual revolution which accentuates freedom in all matters sexual
and in spite of or even because of the tremendous and indiscriminate
increase in the distribution of contraceptives. Judges have ruled,
politicians have legislated, but the controversy on this issue is still
shaking our society. Since the late 1960's abortion has been shifting from
a predominantly illegitimate status toward a more legitimate one. Several
cases have been fought for the right to choose. Many of these have been
hard cases with very personal feelings, but the perseverance showed through
and gives us the rights we have today. In 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut
upheld the right the right to privacy and ended the ban on birth control.
Eight years later, the Supreme Court ruled the right to privacy included
abortions. In Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court stated that it is the women's
right to have an abortion if she so chooses. In Jan 1988 the abortion
section of the Criminal Code of Canada was struck down in Morgentaler
decision. (Gentles, 13). Most arguments against granting women the right to
abortion are based on religious and moral prohibitions, defending the
sanctity of human life. Opponents of abortion rely on the premise that the
fetus is a human being, a person from the moment of conception. Anti-
abortionist proclaim that they are pro-life. However, they spend so much
time establishing that the fetus is a person and therefore has a right to
live that they forget about mothers rights or simply ignore her existence.
The word "murder" is often used by pro-lifers to describe abortion.
Murder means deliberate and unjustified killing of another person
containing intent. How can anybody see an evil intent in a woman's decision
to interrupt pregnancy if it is a result of rape or incest? A woman cannot
bear the thought of having a child that would be a constant reminder of
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what had happened on such and such a day, such and such number of years ago.
She doesn't want to kill a baby, she wants to interrupt the growth of an
embryo so that it will not become a baby. She interrupts potential life.
But potential life is just that, potential.
It is interesting to note that these same people, who place so much
emphasis on protecting the fetus seem to care so little about what happens
to children after they are born. The vast majority oppose government
welfare programs to help support needy and dependent children. These
people are also in favor of the death penalty and see the killing that goes
on during war as justified and noble.
My personal belief is that each woman should have a right to decide
whether she wants to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. For reason's of
women's right to self-determination, protection of their health, adequate
care of children which are born and in order to prevent child abuse and
mental disease, easy access to abortion is a must. Most abortions occur
because contraception failed, because of a rape or because of a serious
medical condition of the mother which could lead to her death. In these
situations abortion is often the only way that prevents the birth of an
unwanted child or saves a mothers life.
Large percentage of women who have to deal with unwanted pregnancies
are teenagers. Pregnancy often has catastrophic effects on adolescents.
They drop out of school, have nervous breakdowns, even commit suicide. It
is also unsafe for them to go through with pregnancy. Dr. Henry
Morgentaler writes: "Mortality among pregnant teenage girls is sixty
percent higher than among adult women, one of the reasons being that the
pregnancy depletes the resources that the need for their own growth.
Congenital malformations are also more frequent among babies whose mothers
are under eighteen" (Morgentaler, 32). Many teenagers cannot provide the
right conditions for raising a child for they are children themselves.
Having a baby will often mean an end of future career, poverty and
complications in health.
Another issue is when pregnant women are older. They no longer feel
prepared to shoulder an obligation of motherhood. Most of these women
already have grown-up children and sometimes even grandchildren. From
medical point of view their health is also in danger: "Probability of
complication during childbirth and congenital malformations in the
offspring increases significantly after the age of forty. It is estimated
that about twenty five percent of Mongoloid children (Down's Syndrome) are
born to mothers over forty" (Morgentaler, 34).
The issue of rape has to be considered when we discuss the importance
for women of having a right to safe and legal abortion. It seems obvious
to most people that we should not force a woman who has become pregnant as
a result of rape to continue with pregnancy. Catholic church and
conservative pro-lifers use the same old "murder argument" to not allow a
woman to have an abortion in case of rape. Many of them do not realize the
psychological trauma a woman has already gone through. They are not seeing
the human beings involved. They are only concerned for unborn and have no
concern for the born that is the victim, her family and friends.
Most people now agree that if the mother's life is in danger abortion
is acceptable. It seems unreasonable to let both die when one can be saved.
There are many other situations in which abortion can be morally
justified. One thing is obvious. These pregnancies were not planned and
they are unwanted. Children born to these mothers are "biological
accidents". In my opinion it is sinful to bring innocent and defenseless
children into the world when they will not be cared for. All over the
globe these are children starving, being raped, dying, being beaten up
because they're are unwanted. They suffer abuses from which they never
recover. Medical researches also show that unwanted children whose mothers
refused an abortion suffer from serious psychological disturbances
throughout their life (Morgentaler, 52).
Another reason why I believe that availability of choice is vital for
women is that if a woman decides to have an abortion, she will do anything
to end her pregnancy. This is the reality. There is no such thing as a one
hundred-per cent effective contraceptive which of course results in
unwanted pregnancies. From the "illegal days" we know many ways in which
women aborted themselves. Many women would introduce caustic detergent
substances into themselves, producing major burns of the vaginal wall and
systemic poisoning. Others would insert a tablet of potassium which led to
serious lesions. Number of women tried to dislodge their pregnancies by
introducing knitting needles, coat hangers, or other metal or wooden
objects into their uteruses. Some women threw themselves down flights of
stairs, and some pumped air into the uterus by means of a small pump used
to blow up bicycle tires. Illegal abortions were performed by people with
no or little medical knowledge, in back rooms, in a non-hygienic
environment. All this led to tremendous number of deaths but did not stop
the abortions. Anyone who thinks that outlawing abortion makes abortion go
away is a fool. It makes it dangerous and it makes it shameful. Women
will always get abortions. And if we are truly concerned about human life,
and if this is not just a hollow slogan for us we should make abortion safe
and clean procedure instead of trying to make women feel guilty.
Opponents of abortion seem to think that women who choose to have
abortions typically do so thoughtlessly. They do not know that a decision
in itself is already agonizing and a very painful thing for a women. But
can you really understand the issue of abortion unless you have been in the
situation of possibly having one? What some people do not seem to
understand is that abortion is not an easy way out. This issue concerned
with badness, and if there is badness there is betterness and worseness.
Woman herself has to make a decision on which is which. Many people try to
force their beliefs on others and judge them for their actions. These
people need to judge themselves before they start to judge others.
Abortion is a difficult issue when it is viewed from a religious point
of view. On one hand there is the Commandment against murder, which begs
the question of whether or not a fetus is a human. There is a passage in
the Bible which deals specifically with the act of causing a woman to
abort a pregnancy. In Exodus 21:22-25 we read: " And if men struggle and
strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no
further injury, he shall be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him,
and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury,
then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for
tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise
for bruise". In this passage we find a woman losing her child by being
stuck by men who are fighting. Rather than it being a capital offense,
however it is looked as a civil matter, with the father - to - be taking
the participants to court for a settlement. But, as we read on, if the
woman is killed, a "life for a life," then the men who killed her shall be
killed. Some have claimed that the life for a life part is talking about
the baby, but in this passage we also read "tooth for a tooth".
Fetuses/babies do not have teeth when they are born. Thus we can see that
if the baby is lost, it does not require a death sentence - it is not
considered murder. But if the woman is lost, it is considered murder and
is punished by death. I do not want to say that abortion is Biblical, but I
just want to show that there can be arguments on both sides and a judgment
against people in God's name should be stopped.
The reasons why women have abortions vary. It may be a case of rape,
physical or psychological condition. A choice must needs to be available
to prevent the birth of unwanted children, to avoid damage to the child as
well as to safeguard the emotional and physical health of women.
Preservation of life seems to be rather a slogan than a genuine goal of the
anti-abortion forces; what they really want is control. Control over our
behavior and power over women. Abortion is a tough choice and the decision
should be a personal one, without interference of government or special
interest groups. Losing safe and legal abortion would mean reducing women
to "childbearing vessels". It would mean turning our backs on the
technology we have, and it will also devalue women as independent human
beings. It would bring more meaningless deaths from the illegal and self-
induced abortions and more pain for women.
God gave us freedom of choice and if He, as a God, gives all of us
this freedom, what right do we have to take it away from women?