Human life is a continuum beginning at conception and ending at natural death. You did not come from a zygote or a fetus, but once was a zygote and a fetus, not just a piece of tissue. Imagine the potential of life. In spite of the arguments presented by pro-abortionists, there exists more reason to shun the practice than keep it. In this light, this paper examines the contentious issue of abortion.
Abortion refers to a practice whereby a pregnancy is terminated with the outcome being the death of a human fetus (Hillar, 2000). It remains one of the most contested issues in as far as social and moral obligations are concerned. Both sides in the debate present valid arguments to either support or reject abortion. Pro-life arguments are mainly based on the concept of preservation of human life from the point of conception to that of giving full priority to unborn fetus’ life over that of the mother. On the other end, pro-abortionists contend that women possess ultimate control of their bodies to that point of prioritizing their lives over the natural observable fact of the development of a new human being.
Abortion is elementarily murder (Simmons, 2002). Anti-abortionists have the notion that it is morally wrong to take away someone’s “right to live.” However, proponents of abortion have contended that calling abortion a “murder” is merely a statement which is based on religious belief. To them, the choice on whether to abort or not lies entirely with the women. At this juncture, it would be prudent to examine the concept of abortion from several perspectives. As outlined by Hillar (2000), philosophers view the fetus’ moral status as being the fundamental flaw by proponents of abortion. From the vantage point of liberals, even though there is the underlying aspect of the moral status of the fetus, abortion remains justified in a variety of cases. For instance, in a hypothetical situation where a woman is raped, there will be a hard decision to make; keep the pregnancy and let the child be a reminder of the trauma for the remainder of one’s life or abort the fetus and in the process, possess the guilt of having “murdered” a human life. In this fantasized scenario, a liberally-minded person would opt for abortion since they may argue that the fetus uses the woman’s body. Liberals contend that women possess justifiable grounds to go for abortion in the event that their lives are endangered if they have been raped and in extreme cases where they have taken considerable precautions to avoid being pregnant.
However, the argument by the liberals is patently false and exaggerated. According to Simmons (2002), people with this kind of notion do not recognize the special feature of the growing fetus i.e. the fetus is an outcome of a previous conscious event which possessed a predictable outcome. In spite of the fact that rape is a societally condemned act, the liberals’ view does not hold due to the lack of moral justification for taking away a fetus’ life. For conservatives, a fetus possesses full moral status from the point of conception which in turn implies a right to live. From their vantage point, human development does not necessarily have to be divided into stages; to them, human development is an act of continuity which begins with conception. As such, the right to living cannot be separated from a fetus’ character. Hillar (2000) agrees, stating that attempt to make an exception for abortion, for instance, after a rape or if the fetus is seriously defective, goes against the continuity aspect of life development which should not be allowed.
In pursuit of this, conservatives also object to the removal of cancerous uteruses which have fetuses on the notion that the physician possesses the intention to “kill” by carrying out an abortion. Conservatives only tone down if the scenario is that of self-defense i.e. in the event that the fetus existence poses a danger to the mother’s life. The other perspective is from the moderates, who weigh the arguments both for and against and then make a decision in support of 1973 United State’s Supreme Court Decision Roe vs. Wade. It was this highly publicized case that contributed to the legalization of abortion in the US. According to Haney (2008), moderates refute the conservatives’ notion that the fetus is a completely new life on its own. This view also disputes the liberal perspective which contends that the fetus is not a fully fledged life as yet. Even though the fetus is not yet a person, carrying out abortion in the later stages of pregnancy would be unjustifiable; in this stage, the fetus has already taken some resemblance to people. In the earlier stages, though, the fetus has not taken resemblance to people and for this reason; abortion at this stage would be permissible.
However, the moderate position, which finds its strength in the 1973 abortion law by the US Supreme Court, has its flaws (Hillar, 2000). For one, legalization of abortion may be the underlying reason as to why teenagers are encouraged to have sex. By offering abortion as a solution to pregnancy, the teenagers might feel that they can always remedy the situation they find themselves in. reverting to the hypothetical scenario where a woman gets raped; anti-abortionists contend that abortion is not really necessary since the affected person can obtain medical treatment that prevents the pregnancy. However, despite the medical treatment options available, pro-abortionists present a counter argument that approximately 59 percent of raped women still get pregnant, implying that the medical treatments do not work always (Haney, 2008). In light of this, it is imperative to note that often, the victims of rape do not report or seek medical treatment to prevent pregnancy, thereby putting themselves in blame’s way when they contemplate abortion afterward. Also, legalization of abortion contributes to increased number of unsafe abortions procured in backstreet clinics which in turn lead to more cases of maternal mortality.
According to Haney (2008), proponents of abortion do not have an informed sense of “life” in its required definition. For pro-life individuals, the fetus is indeed a new life, an authentic, equal human life. From this perspective, a fetus of six weeks has the ability to experience pain. Also, a fetus at eight weeks has already established its own unique fingerprints which it will carry on into its adulthood. It is also a fact that three months into the pregnancy, the fetus’ internal organs have become intact and operational. The fetus is capable of sleeping, waking, tasting, hearing and sensing. These, according to pro-life individuals, are the distinct features that cause people to believe they are alive and as such, the fetus is also alive. Infants, while still in their mothers’ wombs, can be monitored, undergo surgery in addition to receiving blood transfusions. Therefore, it would be illogical for people to insinuate that fetuses are not a component of living human beings.
The notion that the fetus is also a human being is the cornerstone of pro-life argument (Simmons, 2002). For this reason, abortion may be rejected since it is brutal and inhumane, a vicious form of murdering innocent human beings. Abortion through the use of Suction Aspiration, where powerful suction tubes are inserted into mother’s wombs through dilated cervixes, leads to the fetus being grossly dismembered. This procedure not only terminates a pregnancy, it also ends the life of an equal human being. Towards this end, abortion is radically opposed. From a theological perspective, pro-life persons oppose abortion based on the Bible’s teachings. Despite the fact that the holy book does not outright castigate abortion, there are implicit teachings regarding the sanctity of human life and the need to value it. In Genesis 1:27, the semblance of mankind with God makes it sacred i.e. “God created man in his own image.” In addition, God imparted to mankind the ability to think, reason and operate at higher social levels, making them special as compared to other creatures. Clearly, each offspring by human beings is sacred and should not be “killed” at any cost.
Activists who are pro-life have their arguments founded on the grounds that abortion is relative to the individuality of every person (Hillar, 2000; Simmons, 2002). Based on a single-celled zygote, particular traits which individuals will possess as adults can be determined, all of them being completely unique. In spite of inability, deformity or low operational capacity, pro-life activists contend that every individual who is created by God is special and one of a kind. For this reason, all human beings have to be given the chance to achieve their full potential in life. Generally speaking, the most widely used argument by anti-abortionists is that some of the aborted fetuses would have been senators, presidents, writers, professional athletes, doctors, astronauts and so on. On their part, pro-abortionists contend that carrying out an abortion during the first 10 months into pregnancy does not have any moral harm; the human psychological conditioning makes people believe in life in the fetus and hence, feel attached to it.
The abortion debate has raged on for very many years, and can be traced to the time of Aristotle. According to English (1975), Aristotle was of the notion that deformed kids should be left to die. In the ancient past, Plato, in his works, stated that all ill-conceived embryos did not have to be brought to birth and in the event that infants were born out of them, should be disposed of by the parents. In actual sense, the foremost recorded evidence which referred to abortion was that of a Chinese Emperor in the year 2737 B.C. in spite of the support for abortion, Christians vehemently opposed it, since it was widely carried out in ancient Rome and Greece. The “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” or “The Didache” was a Christian manual which outlined the church affairs and morals which stated that one shall not carry out or procure and abortion (referred to as infanticide). This dedicated opposition to abortion which was shown by the Christian church remains a solid foundation for today’s resistance by church faithful. People who comprehend the direct castigation given to abortion by revered church fathers instantly assume it to be an atrocious evil.
Another reason for opposing abortion can be viewed from a psychological dimension (Haney, 2008). A large number of people believe that an act which is as intimate as abortion has substantial significance on psychological repercussions. Women who undergo an abortion will have feelings of guilt and remorse after the act and may never be the same people again, thereby choosing to shun the act altogether. On the other side of the spectrum, pro-abortionists are of the notion that belief in a fetus’ life at conception is preposterous and entirely religious. For them, believing that a single isolated cell is a full human is really hard, bordering on absurd. Though they admit that the embryo is a symbol of “potential life,” they are radically opposed to the notion that it is indeed fully human until the entire human structure and functions are in place and are operational. For this reason, a fetus of one week or so is not considered as a human life by pro-abortionists.
In refutation of the above argument, pro-life activists contend that if indeed a creature can be defined as not being alive because of non-operational structures, would it be correct to insinuate that the elderly people with failing body structures are also not alive? Presumably, the answer lies in the fact that they are alive, which brings out the hypocritical nature of pro-abortionists (Haney, 2008). Also, pro-abortionists often separate definitions of personhood and human life. By giving personhood a definition that it is the ability for approval as a member of a particular social community and capacity for self-conscious thinking. This implies that they admit that the fetus is indeed human life. However, they deny the fetus the rights of people.
Another argument put forward by abortionists is that the act is done in the best interest of the woman and her family (English, 1975; Hillar, 2000; Haney, 2008). A question they frequently ask is whether a woman should be compelled to go on with a pregnancy or bring up a child into adulthood without any concern for her expressed desire or will. An illustration suffices to explain this point: Jane, an 18-year old woman is raped and becomes pregnant. Clearly, this is not a child she had planned for or possesses the desire to take care of as her “own.” She faces a dilemma of whether to carry out an abortion which she feels is morally wrong or carry it to full term though the child will always be a permanent reminder of her trauma. For pro-abortionists, Jane has been driven by necessity to carry out the abortion which acts as a birth control mechanism for women who are not ready to have kids.
Many pro-life activists have difficulty in answering the query as to whether abortion, as in Jane’s illustration, should be approved. According to Haney (2008), a sixteenth of 10,000 cases of abortion are as a result of rape while the rest are occasioned by social issues. Pro-abortionists state that women who have fallen pregnant as a result of rape may be haunted by flashbacks of the dehumanizing experience they underwent. Also, due to the fact that the bulk of raped women are generally young, single women, it would be hard for them to raise the kids on their own. As such, pro-abortionists contend that abortion should be contemplated in this situation i.e. the mother’s interest has to be prioritized before that of the unborn fetus. Towards this end, the circumstances underlying the pregnancy of the woman should be the crucial factor in deciding whether to abort.
Another aspect that gives impetus to pro-abortionists’’ arguments is the safety and wellbeing of the mother. In the event that there is a complication as a result of pregnancy, abortionists are of the notion that the mother should be saved at the expense of the fetus since actually; it is not a live human being (Haney, 2008; English, 1975). The logic behind this is the fact that the mother is a valuable member of the community in which she resides and her death would contribute to a much larger tragedy than the death of the unborn fetus. Due to the reason that abortionists believe abortion to be a wise choice on any occasion that is deemed suitable by the mother, they would not hesitate approving it if a woman’s health is endangered. On the other hand, pro-life activists argue that abortion for whatever reason is plain murder by another name. Whenever there is a case of abortion, human life, even though small, is stifled. Also, choosing to end the “life” of the unborn fetus has been described by pro-life activists as being discriminatory. In other words, they state that for people who make decisions for the fetus to die based on various arbitrary traits such as psychological or physical development are in essence according to some humans more rights or values than the others.
An argument fronted by pro-life supporters is that is there exists uncertainty regarding the fetus’ right to live, then the procurement of an abortion is tantamount to taking a risk of murdering another human being (Hillar, 2000). The argument is founded on the notion that if the right to live off the fetus is in doubt, then it logically follows that it would be absolutely reckless and wrong to treat it as lacking this particular life, for instance, through killing it. This argument is refuted by abortionists who contend that in the similar fashion, killing various animals for food or even plants would be morally wrong too, since people do not know for sure whether such beings do not possess the right to live. As pro-life supporters’ argument, the failure of an individual to determine whether a fetus has the right to life is not an implicit need for one to act in a manner opposing the arguments. Towards this end, abortion should not be carried out merely because it is difficult to come to an agreement whether the fetus has a right to live.
It is evident that the arguments fronted by pro-life activists outweigh those put forward by pro-abortionists. Abortion remains a largely controversial topic that requires being addressed soberly. Despite the fact that some people may deny the fetus as possessing the right to live, it is, at least, imperative for them to consider the fetus as being a potential human being who may develop into adulthood if no deprived of life. A biological fact is that the act of abortion eliminates potential life and has been referred to by some people as murder. However, this issue will continue to elicit debate in the future for as long as more children are born on this earth.
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