Since the Darwinian Revolution of the 19th century, our society has turned upside down. Everything under the sun had become questionable, the origin of life, how we came to be, where are we headed and what to do in the here all became questions in life. But one of the greatest impacts of this new age thinking is its effect on our Old World values. Western societies values, morals and ethics became debatable, with some people striving for change and others clinging to stability. Battle lines had been drawn and the Liberals and Conservatives were ready to duke it out on a number of issues. One of these debates centres on a woman’s right to have an abortion. According to Webster’s dictionary and abortion is defined as a miscarry, something misshapen or unnatural. Abortion is a procedure in which an embryo or fetus is prohibited from developing by artificial means. One could argue that this is next to murder. How can we as a society sanction the murdering of developing babies? Also, it can equally be stated that abortion is unnatural and a health hazard to women who have undergone the procedure. Whatever the case, abortion should be outlawed because it is immoral and mothers should face the responsibilities for their actions.
Many arguments can be used in order to put an end to abortion or at least in order to establish a dialogue. One of the oldest arguments against abortion is the religious standpoint. Western society (Canada & U.S.A.) is historically a Judeo-Christian culture with Judeo-Christian values. Although in recent times we have become an increasingly pluralistic society the Old World thinking is still at the heart of our social relations and laws. The Bible says “Thou shalt not kill” thus prohibiting people from harming others or themselves. Abortion and its advocates violate this law. They seek to change one of the most fundamental values of our society.
Pro-choice under this stance is equated with murder and “playing God”. One may raise the question, how can a minority inflict its views on the majority? According to Francis X. Meenan, this is a false assumption. He goes on to claim that those who favour abortion on demand are the real minority (Bender & Leone, 97). He also claims that the issue of abortion is a moral debate and cannot be settled by numbers. So even if pro-choice advocates outnumbered pro-life advocates, this would prove or settle nothing (Bender & Leone, 97). This stance claims that we should focus more on moral principals and eradicate the practice of abortion in our society.
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The Biblical understanding of life isn’t the only religious argument that opposes abortion and its practice. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and many other world faiths have a similar stance on the topic at hand. Hinduism claims that the soul enters the embryo at the time of conception and abortion should hence be outlawed except in the case of rape or incest. Buddhism takes a similar stance and claims abortion is “murdering”, yet also states that each case should be individually analyzed. Islam considers abortion as a moral crime and sees life (its start-finish) as the jurisdiction of God. Islamic law states that abortion is illegal except in those situations in which the woman’s life is in jeopardy. The question that arises after examining these numerous perspectives is how can these practices which violate or threaten our fundamental beliefs be tolerated?
The critics of the anti-abortion perspective, “pro-choice”, have arguments of their own. First and foremost they argue that biblical law and its perspectives are codes of life for believers and in a pluralistic society this view shouldn’t be a reference or a deciding factor. One could imagine how it would be to have another foreign view imposed on us so why would anyone impose their views on others or the society at large? Other pro-choice arguments have gone to claim that abortion isn’t immoral because morality is subjective hence people decide on their own what is moral or immoral. According to Daniel C. Maguire, even religious people can disagree on abortion.
One ground for going against religion as an argument against abortion is the fact that the Church is dominated by male influence (bender & Leone, 101). Maguire wants to know how and why men have the authority to dictate what women decide to do with their bodies (Bender & Leone, 101). Is it “life” they seek to protect or is it the female “sexuality” they wish to control? The Catholic Code of Canon excommunicates one for aborting a fertilized egg, but not for killing a baby after birth. This hypocrisy thus discredits the religious argument against abortion.
The counter-criticism, which in turn disproves abortion claims that advocates of pro-choice are imposing their values on the greater population and not the other way around. In my opinion, this is a good counter-strike because too often pro-choice individuals claim that the other side is being closed-minded and yet seem to neglect their own errors.
The second argument, which opposes abortion, states that abortion shouldn’t be a woman’s personal choice. Women only play one role in having a baby. There is a man’s role involved and there is a new life, which under the banner of abortion would be extinguished. A pro-abortionist denies humanity to the fetus at all, a stance that shows a lack of moral character (Wennberg, 57). This perspective states that the growing fetus is an autonomous life form that has its own rights regardless and separate from the woman.
I would argue that females who have undergone an abortion have infringed on the life of another human being in order to satisfy their own needs. Other arguments opposing abortion state that if we keep abortion legal it will become a choice ethic or a new form of birth control (Wennberg, 9). Life will be a privilege only for a chosen few, the value of human life will be cheapened with people only having babies when it is convenient.
Critics of this argument claim abortion should be a woman’s personal choice. They state that a true woman’s liberation is intertwined with the right to bear children or the decision to abort their unborn child at will (Saarni, 104). Further claims have stated that the pro-choice argument is embedded in a larger issue which the dominant male-oriented society wants to avoid, that being feminism (Wennberg, 68). This statement regards abortion as a social issue which opens the doors for women’s liberation and gives them the power to make decisions in their own life. As one could imagine this isn’t a view that would be favoured by male society. Other criticism claims that women who are opposed to abortion do so because they value human well being and those politicians who seek to outlaw abortion come in the name of “family values” (Saarni, 115). Thus pro-choice isn’t seen as a stance, which is concerned, about the well being of people.
In a quest to establish a woman’s choice the government is viewed as a powerful entity. Perhaps the issue of choice should be left to the individual instead of the state (Wennberg, 82). In my opinion, the right to bear children or not shouldn’t be just a woman’s decision. Why must women’s liberation be related to their independent choice and not with a socially intellectual choice where all parties find a middle ground?
The statement that the abortion argument is a part of a larger sphere, which includes feminism and that the powers that be are trying to put an end to this, is based on speculation. If this were true why is it that women have gained power all across the board in all walks of life only to be oppressed in this issue? As for the women who seek the well being for the life they naturally side up with the pro-life perspective. To claim that politicians with their own personal agendas are manipulating these women is saying that these women value life alongside their male counterparts and that is the reasoning why many strive towards pro-life.
The argument that legal abortion harms public health is yet another reason to re-evaluate the case of abortion. The fact is that abortion is a complicated procedure that can harm a woman’s body, disabling from bearing children. Complications include hemorrhaging and laceration of the cesuix (Richardson, 36). Other studies done by Stallworthy, Moolga, Oker and Walsh have reported the complications that occurred during 1,182 legal abortions. While there were no deaths, 9.5% of the patients required blood transfusions, 4.2% had cervical lacerations and 1.2% of the patients uteri were perforated. Post-abortion infection occurred in 27% of these women. Other complications in pregnancy and with abortions state that there is a correlation between premature birth and a woman’s exposure to abortion (Richardson, 42).
This perhaps has to do with the fact that the cervix could be damaged after the use of instruments to perform abortion (Richardson, 42). A first pregnancy permanently changes the structure of a woman’s breasts. Before she is pregnant, her breasts cannot produce milk, as the gland cells are immature and underdeveloped. When she becomes pregnant, estrogen and other hormones flood her system. This results in rapid growth in size, while the internal structure undergoes a dramatic change.
Cells, previously dormant, rapidly grow into a system of branching ducts and gland cells capable of producing milk. Once this growth, change and maturing is complete, there is no further significant change in the rest of her life. Once mature, the chance of breast developing cancer is much less. When these cells are changing and transitional, they are less stable and have a much greater potential of becoming cancerous. If she completes her first pregnancy, this unstable period passes and her gland cells mature and stabilize.
But — if she interrupts her pregnancy, in its early phase, and 90% of abortions are done in the first trimester, she in effect stops the development of the cells at this unstable, transitional phase. It seems apparent that cancerous changes can and do occur more frequently among these transitional cells of a woman who has terminated her pregnancy. If she aborts more than once before completing a pregnancy, her chance for cancer increases even more. A subsequent full-term pregnancy helps, but sadly never removes the sharply increased threat of cancer.
In my opinion, the facts speak for themselves. Abortion decreases public health and is a dangerous procedure.
Other arguments for abortion stem from claims that abortion actually guards public safety by providing an outlet for young women who would have otherwise had a “back alley” abortion (Richardson, 57). Advocates of this argument would most likely state that since the legalization of abortion an account of accurate records has been kept thus catering to health concerns. Other statements claim that since 1973 the number of women, percentage-wise, who are using safer methods has increased (Richardson, 51).
In my personal opinion, these arguments simply state how legalized abortion has reduced the black market. It doesn’t attempt to debate the ethics of the matter or doesn’t mention the risk factor associated with abortion. I’m sure military force monitoring our cities could reduce crime, yet is this a solution that serves the best interest? To argue that society is better off with legalized abortion because it reduces the black market isn’t a very good solution. It is a decision that is poor, unethical, and most of all a tremendous health hazard.
Another argument, which is often cited as a justification for abortion, is one’s economic concerns. Many women who get pregnant but are poor are the first to get an abortion. It seems like that the struggles of modern life create an obstacle for those women in which a child becomes a burden (Saarni, 17). Is this what our society has come to? Is this the condition of our mothers? It seems like more and more women are redirected towards abortion as a solution to their problems (Saarni, 19). Human life now comes with a price tag, it is no longer regarded as sacred but is seen as a disposable entity when “the going gets tough”. Society no longer values life and is willing to, or demanding that women, especially poor or black women control the number of babies they have or the government will control it for them (Saarni, 24).
The critics take the other stance and claim that economics is one of the most important reasons we should keep legal abortions. Legal abortions provide an avenue for underprivileged women who cannot support another child in this world (Saarni, 29). They claim that abortion is in the best interest of the mother, child and the taxpayers (Saarni, 29). They also claim that abortion services are an equalizer which maintains low birth rates amongst today’s women (Saarni, 30). This means that women use abortion as a method of birth control, which enables them to remain independent, carry out a career, and live a free-spirited life.
I personally believe that economics isn’t a good reason to abort a life. If one can’t afford to bring a life into this world then take all necessary precautions to make sure you won’t get pregnant. I don’t think abortion is in the best interest of anyone but the selfish mother who has willingly destroyed the life of an unborn baby.
Finally, it’s a shame if modern women feel that abortion is some sort of birth control. It is unfortunate that life isn’t valued like it once was and that independence and financial gain gave become the new objectives in life. It is perhaps this mentality to equate abortion with birth control and thus female liberation that is the most dangerous to traditional family values. What does this say about us as a society when we begin to murder our own and then claim that we are modern and civilized?
Abortion has many ominous consequences and shows how the very moral fibre of our society is disintegrating. It is a moral crime, a crime to the unborn child, a crime to society as a whole and therefore should be outlawed.
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