Despite abortion is a legal medical method to stop the premature delivery that is adopted in most countries of the world, nowadays we live in the civilized society where the human life is the most precious treasure and the question about the appropriateness of abortions is of current importance. Nowadays there are two opposing camps who present their arguments. People who support abortion insist that prohibition of it will deprive people of their rights to have free choice. On the contrary, people who stand for banning abortion claim that abortion deprives a human being of the right to live.
Opinion on abortion is split practically equal in theUnited Statesand inEurope; the only difference between this two groups of people is the question of consciousness. While the first group of people who stand for abortion make their choice from practical point of view and do not think much on this problem, the second group present serious arguments and take into account moral point of view. Arguments against abortion may be divided into three groups: scientific proof, legal issues and moral arguments. Science states that life begins at the moment of conception and this fact is proved by numerous researches. “Contrary to what many non-scientists believe, human beings are not constructed in the womb – they develop. In fact, all the major organ systems are initiated within the first three weeks after conception”¯ (Marquis 198). The process of embryonic development is long-term process and it is impossible to say exactly when it starts and when the fetus becomes a child. “Fetal rights”¯ is a comparatively new notion, which stands for new judicial, social and moral norm. This notion means that unborn children possess their own rights and deserve same treatment and protection as children do (Coady, 1997). This means that women can be criminally charged for causing voluntary of involuntary harm to their unborn children.
The legal argument is easily explained by the US Constitution. It preserves the rights of all persons and the right for life among them. The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act adopted in 2003 became the culmination of struggle against abortion. This act prohibits intact dilation and extraction, sometimes also referred as partial-birth abortion.
The question about the rights of the fetus gets more and more importance in the argument about abortion. If the fetus is a person or becomes a person at some point in gestation, then it automatically has rights under the United States Constitution, including the right to life. Legalized abortions are regarded as a discrimination against babies since fetus is recognized as a human being. Those, who talk about the rights of women, forget about the rights of unborn children, who are already living creatures and have their rights, which should be protected by the Constitution. In many cases legalized abortion becomes a discrimination against fathers of the unborn babies. They have no legal rights to save their own babies as all decision is taken only by women. Decision about abortion can not be taken only by women. Let’s imagine the case when a father of the unborn child is ready to put time and effort and to grow up a child but woman wants to make an abortion. From the one side there are all conditions for the future child to have normal life and from the other side a woman has all rights to make an abortion and man, even being a father of the child, can not stop her. Very often defendants of the rights of women forget about the rights of men and children, and these rights shouldn’t be neglected by any means.
All pro-abortion arguments are based on the thesis about the rights of women. They state that banning abortions will be a discrimination of women because it limits their rights and freedoms. In reality women in modern society do have freedom to decide when to become a mother. Modern methods of contraception give a wide range of possibilities to plan pregnancy and chose the time appropriate for the birth of the child. Abortion should not be a method of family planning. Family planning should consist of avoiding undesired pregnancy and taking responsibilities in the cases when woman gets pregnant. Right for life is guaranteed by the Constitution and all those, who insist on the abortion banning, stress that since there is not agreed opinion about the moment when human life starts it is better to behave as is starts right after fertilization because in this way we will not kill anybody in the case of mistake. They insist that until no certain decision about this issue is legal, judiciary institution should behave in a way, which preserves life.
Religious arguments constitute another group of reasons against abortion. All Western culture is mainly based on Christian religion, which believes abortions to be morally wrong. Christian faith insists on the human nature of the unborn child and regards abortion as a murder. Actually the Bible does not say anything about abortion. This argument is often used by the proponents of abortion. In reality during the time when the Bible was written abortion was considered as something inhuman and sinful, so it did not even need official mention in the Bible. The Bible is based on the idea of sanctity of human life. If we step away from Christianity and look at other world religions we will find out that most of them treat fetus like a human creature, who possesses soul. That is why many religions consider abortion to be a murder. Some people insist that the question of abortion banning is raised by the Christian Church only. It goes without saying that it is true but it is also necessary to take into account that most world religious, cultural and social societies state that abortion can not be accepted from the moral point of view. Among these people are just Catholics or Protestants but also feminists, pagans, atheists and many others.
Medical arguments are based on the harm abortions bring to the health of women. In addition medical arguments give additional proves that unborn baby is not a part of female body, but a unique human creature. Embryo has a unique set of chromosomes, which are different from his mother’s ones. Geneticists can find a difference between DNA of sperm, egg and embryo, but he will not find any difference between DNA of embryo and grown-up person. This one more time proves that embryo is an autonomous human being, which possesses a right for life. Another group of medical arguments centers on the study of processes of life and death. Since the death is usually defined as a stop of heartbeat, in this case a life can be defined as a start of heartbeat. Embryo’s heartbeat starts on the 18th day and this gives reasons to talk about the start of human life on the 18th day after fertilization. Modern death criteria turn to the stop of brain activity as one of the most important signs of death. Brain activity of embryo starts on the 40s day. If we believe that the cease of brain activity can be a sign of death than the start of this activity can be recognized as a sing of life and this sign appears 40 days after fertilization.Ā Fetal pain is another controversial issue regarding abortions. Latest research proves that fetus does feel pain during abortion. As researches state, “Try sticking an infant with a pin and you know what happens. She opens her mouth to cry and also pulls away. Try sticking an 8-week-old human fetus in the palm of his hand. He opens his mouth and pulls his hand away. A more technical description would add that changes in heart rate and fetal movement also suggest that intrauterine manipulations are painful to the fetus.”¯ (Lee, Ralston 950) Unborn baby has same characteristics, as other human creatures. It has unique DNA and even unique fingerprints.Ā Almost all 100% per cent of genetic information is transmitted to the embryo at the moment of conception. This means that after the very moment of conception we can talk about an embryo as about a unique human personality.
The moral and philosophical arguments section examines some of the common reasons given why abortion should be legal. The primary question to be answered is “Is the fetus a person?”¯ or “When does human personhood begin?”¯ Since embryo is defined as a human being by modern medicine, philosophical search is preoccupied with the difference between human being and a person. It is a person, who is protected by the constitutional law, not a human being. The main question concerned abortion is a time when human creature gets characteristics of a person.
So called pro-choice movement, which stands for the abortion legalization also has a lot of supporters in theUnited States.
Abortion is allowed by the Federal Law of United States. According to federal law, each woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy, state laws can add some restrictions to federal law. In theUnited States, like in many countries abortion is allowed under certain criteria. Pregnancy can be terminated at any term if is justified by serious reason, such as preserving physical or mental health of women, saving the life of the woman, embryo impairment. Abortion is also allowed if pregnancy started as a result of rape or incest.
Pro-choice movement, is very strong in some states of the country. This movement stresses Constitutional right of women to terminate their pregnancies by their wish.Ā In 1973 Supreme Court during the hearings of Roe v. Wade case recognized abortion banning unlawful in the cases when pregnancy created a threat to the health of a woman.
Supreme Court of theUnited Statesannounced that banning abortion violated female rights, guaranteed by the Constitution. According to the court decision, “a woman’s decision to have an abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy should be exclusively between herself and her physician, but that individual states could regulate abortion in the second trimester in ways designed to preserve and protect the woman’s health; and that after fetal viability, or the third trimester of pregnancy, the states could regulate or even proscribe abortion unless the procedure was necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother”¯ (Joffe, 119). The court did not recognize a fetus as a person and thus deprived it of all its rights. This court case became a first push to the legalization of abortion. Now women could make own decision about abortion during the first trimester of a pregnancy. Such court decision gave women right to decide whether they wanted or not to terminate their pregnancies. Abortion is still legalized in the most part of the country and a number of court decisions, such as Roe v. Wade, for example, prove that pro-choice movement also has strong arguments in order to support legalization of abortion.
Progress and development of the society led mankind to the new realization of the value of human life. Abortion threatens sanctity of human life. It contradicts natural laws, contradicts religion and ethical values. In also contradicts laws of some countries of the world and that is why it should be prohibited. There are religious, philosophical, legal and medical reasons against abortions. All these arguments taken together give enough reason to ban abortion and reconsider existing laws.