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Abortion which is referred to as the termination of a pregnancy either by surgical or medical method is perhaps the most contentious issue that has been widely opposed. From historical periods, individual women have sought to terminate pregnancies for a variety of reasons. Several forms of abortion exist, together with those attributable from natural causes (described to as spontaneous abortion or miscarriage), those carried out for medical reasons (therapeutic abortions), and those carried out for individual reasons (elective abortion). Until today, abortions are normally risky, probable to unending injury or death for the pregnant women. This essay will discuss three reasons against the legality of abortion and will point to the value or belief held by each reason. It will also respond to opposing views and point out their weaknesses.
Abortion has been condemned on a number of grounds. The most far-reaching is the argument that human life commences at the moment of conception (when the sperm and egg come together. During conception, the embryo and the fetus gain the same moral status as a human being; hence, entitled for protection since it has the right to existence. Termination of a pregnancy is an abuse of the rights of the fetus and embryo, and allowing it to transpire is thus illegal. From a religious belief, abortion should be resisted because children are perceived as a gift or heritage from God which should be jealously protected. From a legal perspective, abortion should be illegal, whether ‘wanted’ or not, and the fetus or embryo should have the full protection of the law, equal to that of a human being (Williams 89).
Secondly, abortion inflicts pain and death to the fetus, from my view, taking the life of a fetus is tantamount to murder and is for that reason illegal. This argument is based on religious belief that God alone has the right to grant life and to destroy it. The sanctity of life doctrine is often condensed in the following approach: it is wrong to murder blameless human beings; a human fetus is a blameless human being; for that reason it is wrong to murder a human fetus. From a religious belief, God is in charge over conception and thus nobody should kill that which God has created. All types of abortion in which the embryo and the fetus are murdered either through active or passive means should be considered illegal, regardless of the phase of the embryo or fetus growth. Just as it is illegal to terminate the existence of an infant, a child, or a fully developed human being, so should it be illegal to terminate the existence of an embryo or fetus as it grows in the womb. On the same note, there is no indispensable difference amid taking the life of a newborn five minutes following birth and terminating a fetus five minutes prior to birth. Abortion, or embryo research, from this standpoint, is murder. Hence, all termination, at any stage, should be illegal, since it entails the extinction of a growing human life, full of potential and human rights (Walsh 16).
Thirdly, due to the widespread and health effects of abortion, abortion should be illegal. It has been proven to be a major cause of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide among other conditions. Depression, shame, risk, and anxiety are among the long term consequences of abortion. Furthermore, abortion has long-term effects on women afterward childbearing and subsequent pregnancies. Most notably, psychological evidence suggests that the termination of fetal at any stage is followed by guilt and distress on the side of the parent(s) responsible for making that tough choice, in most cases, the soon-to-be mother. The pain has been proven to continue for several years, possibly even a lifetime. Other injuries or health problems related to abortion include a perforated uterus, bladder, or bowel in addition to septic shock. Besides, the pregnant woman is susceptible to different health risks and the risk of becoming infertile. Abortion has been widely cited to be a major cause of having breast cancer. Antiabortion advocates have advised women to cite abortion as a probable cause of having or being prone to having breast cancer (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons 2010).
In general, the life of the embryo and the fetus should be preserved, contrary to the wishes of the pregnant woman who is in need of abortion. Her rights should not supersede the rights of the growing fetus. Huge populations of the society turn to science with the intention of discovering whether it is legal to terminate a fetus. The response to this question is not contingent on natural science, since the question is an ethical or moral one and not a scientific or therapeutic one. The legality of abortion is a medical subject in exclusive cases where the pregnant woman’s life is at stake. According to Kaczor, evidence has been documented that abortion is harmful to the society in terms of the psychological, physical, and social effects it poses on to the women who undergo it. It is also destructive to the culture that permits its weakest and vulnerable members to be terminated by private force (199).
Proponents of legalizing abortion consider abortion to lessen the number of unwanted children and forced marriages in addition to the economic pressure on some families. The moral principle of autonomy (self-determination) has contributed to the abortion debate. This principle supports a woman’s right to be in command of her own body. According to the pregnant woman’s viewpoint, that right takes account of deciding whether to have an abortion. On the contrary, the opposing view signifies a fundamental weakness since it tends to focus on one right, when more than one right is entailed; two human beings have a right to existence, the mother and the fetus. To overlook the rights of both discussed parties is to be unfair to both. However, the fetus right to live is minimal compared to the mother’s right to live, in some exceptions. In definite and limited conditions, for instance, danger to the mother owing from the pregnancy, the right of the mother takes preference over that of the fetus (Marietta 107).
Abortion should not be justified exclusively on the woman’s desires during any period of pregnancy. Regardless of her motive whatsoever, her views (fetus is part of her body) should not overlook the rights, if any, of the fetus. Supporters of abortion believe that human life commences when a baby dwells outside its mother’s womb. Prior to the delivery of the child, they assert that the baby is part of the mother’s body. With regards to the same, others deem that human life commences when the human embryo develop into a fetus in the womb, at approximately eight weeks. Following this argument, one cannot absolutely ignore the life of a fetal entity and describe it exclusively as a fundamental part of the mother’s body. The description of the essence of life entails factual biological elements. From the biological standpoint, a fetus is a separate entity, since it has separate movements, separate neurological activities, and separate cardiac activities. From the very beginning, the embryo is immunologically exclusive from the mother. For this reason, it is not a part of the mother’s body even though it is in the same intrauterine environment. This denotes that the fetus is independent and deserves the right to life; the mother should not determine its fate (Rice 27).
Abortion is legally wrong and should be made illegal apart from where the life of the mother is threatened. In case where the life of an expectant woman is at stake, the biblical and legal principle would be to rescue the life of the woman instead of the life of the unborn child. However, abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, because the fetus is a living human being, which is entitled to the rights and respects similar to other human beings. In the case of abortion, one must cautiously consider the right of the fetus to be born as an opposing right to the pregnant woman’s desire to terminate it (Rice 28).
The foregoing argument has discussed why abortion is illegal starting from the moral and legal position of the fetus and what it connotes to be a person. It follows from my argument that the termination of a fetus or embryo is unacceptable and thus should be illegal. Abortion is a serious evil and should be thwarted so as to lessen the unnecessary termination of human life. This paper has argued that human embryos and fetuses from conception are human beings with similar moral rights to life equal to other human beings. It has also maintained that a woman has no fundamental right to do as she desires with her own body. The resulting health effects after abortion have been used to point out the extent of abortion’s injurious effects. The society should have a legitimate interest in preventing abortion. Given the widespread and detrimental effects of abortion, various measures should be made by the government to illegalize abortion in our country and in the world at large.