The coexistence of opposite and conflicting feelings about abortion is 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. 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 what had happened on such and such a day, such and such number of years ago.
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. Robert J. Stubblefield writes: “Just as there are no rights of collections of individuals, so there are no rights of parts of individuals no rights of arms or of tumors or of any piece of tissue growing within a woman, even if it has the capacity to become in time a human being ” (Stubblefield). 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. “Anti-abortionists exhibit fetal remains such as little fingers and toes to the effect that every abortion is equivalent to leaving a newborn in a dumpster” (Stubblefield) .
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.
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 bitterness 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 it states: ” 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?