Abortion Paper


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. 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 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