Abortion: A Human Rights Violation

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Abortion refers to the practice of removing the fetus or a human embryo from the uterus of a pregnant woman before the full term of pregnancy has been completed (Oberman, 2018). As early as the 13th century, abortion after about 6 weeks of pregnancy was regarded homicide and was punishable through hanging. After the period of quickening in a pregnancy, usually at the sixteenth to eighteenth week, when the woman can feel the movement of the fetus, abortion largely remained a capital offense until the 19th century (Thomas, 2016). Following a period of vagueness in the regulations surrounding abortion, laws began to be tightened and equally, abortion was prohibited in both the United States and England unless it was necessary for the purpose of saving the life of the mother. But during the early 1970s, the United Kingdom, the United States and a number of other developed countries became more liberal in their abortion laws, permitting abortion for health reasons, or in case of incest and rape. However, the question of legality and morality of abortion continues to be debated with some nations eventually banning nontherapeutic abortion, especially in the last trimester of pregnancy. In this light, this essay summarizes the main points in two-peer reviewed articles from journal articles and analyzes them for any critical errors. It also compares and contrasts the arguments of each author on why their argument styles benefited their end game and explains the thoughts of the writer regarding what the authors should have used as evidence.

In the article “Defending Abortion Philosophically” Beckwith Francis debunks the commonly held notion that the fetus is a human being, and which is equally used to argue against abortion. In that most of the opposition with regard to abortion is usually based on the premise that the fetus is a human being which has life from conception. However, according to Beckwith (2006), this premise argued for does not hold validity. Taking for example, the argument that we are asked to notice that the development of human being from conception through birth all the way to childhood is continuous which implies that to draw a line and to choose points in this development, for instance before this particular aspect or thing becomes a human being that person it was becomes a human person, became a decision made from an arbitrary choice that is derived from reasons that do not always exist. Simply put, the author implies that the fetus is in one way or another being wrongly termed as a person from conception. This is the reason that he fails to justify the acts of abortion restrictions since the condition in which the fetus becomes a human being is same as a corn into an oak tree hence being referred to as slippery slope arguments. Therefore the author is inclined that the process and procedure of drawing a line in the development of the fetus are dim as at the 10th week the fetus develops a face, legs, and fingers. In addition to that a newly fertilized ovum newly implanted clump of cells does not fit to possess any human characteristics, therefore, the justification of the abortion restriction should be upheld but instead be established on realistic impermissibility rather than on the essence of it being a human being. The author continues to defend his position that despite the opposing side that disqualifies abortion with arguments that the fetus has a right to life, the mother has a right to makes decisions on what process and conditions have to happen to her body during her entire life if the right to life has to be upheld along with human dignity and freedom.

Sometimes women are forbidden to have an abortion regardless of their health conditions that may threaten the lives of the mother as well as the survival of the fetus. In support for his argument in the article Beckwith (2006) implies that in case a pregnant mother gets exposed to risks as a result of the pregnancy, the life of the mother ought to be valued more than the survival of the fetus since right to life is established on the basis that destruction of the already existing life should not prevail. Therefore, this being mandatory in most institutions and health organizations abortion of the fetus becomes an undermining act implying that the life of the fetus is not recognized at conception despite its existence. In this light, according to the author, the concept of life emanating from conception is meaningless and does not necessarily imply the violation of the right to life if the abortion of the fetus takes place.

In finalizing his work, Beckwith (2006) provides other reasons as to why women choose to have an abortion. Typically, the decision is founded on the concern for the health of the woman as well as the health of the fetus. Beckwith questions whether an embryo with significant deformities should be allowed to live a life full of suffering. Similarly, he argues that the life of the mother should at least be regarded as more important contrary to what people say – all lives are equal. In light of Beckwith’s discussion, the nation and society have already invested significant resources in the health of the mother, and it does not make sense to allow the mother to suffer just for the sake of giving birth to a child. In cases where the mother dies in the course of delivery, the embryo also has lower chances of surviving, and therefore, outlawing abortion does not contribute to societal well-being.

In the article “Psychological Consequences of Abortion” Pourreza and Batebi (2011) delve into the psychological issues that individuals go through after abortion. Various psychological sufferings have been documented in the scientific community with regards to the existence of abortion; these include anxiety, depression and some corollaries of post-traumatic stress disorder commonly referred to as (PTSD). However, these terminologies appear to cover of sufferings and results in both long run and short run that usually occur during and after abortion has been committed by the victim. The author continues to elude that the protocols and procedures that are supposed to be followed during PTSD can only be used when symptoms and signs manifest themselves clearly close to the traumatic event. In addition to that suffering as a result of stress takes long periods of time before clearly manifesting itself making it difficult for effective adoption and implementation of the PTSD and PAS procedures. According to the authors, scientists have proved that there exist common psychological disturbances and consequences of abortion that affect the victim and other parties constituent to her environment.

Pourreza and Batebi (2011) clarify that 82 percent of women are legible and often use contraceptives. Therefore, unwanted pregnancies usually take place during contraception. The woman’s reaction is always negative since they often take the pill or use the IUD with the aim of not being in a position to bear children due to various reasons either socially or for economic reasons. Another disturbance is denial. This disturbance lasts for varying periods depending on the nature of the woman who is regarded as the victim or the conditions in her environment. Essentially, women who at one point or another committed abortion feel inward guilt when exposed to fellow women who are pregnant. This finally leads to the development of behaviors that may be harmful to their lives psychologically, which transforms themselves into those inevitable to their psychical well-being.

Another psychological disturbance following abortion is anger that manifests itself in various forms especially to those varying elements and people that contributed in one way or another to the adoption of the decision. This does not manifest itself if denial appears, and forces one to the dreadful torpor that follows such as loss that transforms itself from the denial aspect. Even though it is nonetheless important to reject the convenience of manifestation of anger it spares one from dealing with emotions of sadness filling its void which normally occurs from loss accompanied by hatred. In addition, doubt is a major disturbance that the author presents. Since most of the victims of abortion often engage themselves in the justification of the decision taken; it is clear that even if the women are not ambivalent about their decisions there exists many high possibilities and chances of engagement in doubts on the medical act. The victim may also feel guiltiness depending on the strength of their values regarding morality as well as the religious aspects governing her morality and rationality. According to Pourreza and Batebi (2011), with reference to the Greek Philosophers under the natural law, the injunction is highly condemned since it is regarded as the action of taking away life.  Finally, depression, anxiety flashback, and somatization appear commonly to the victims, although in varying lengths during pain. This manifests themselves through women who are victims becoming aggressive, nervous, and hyperactive displaying behaviors related to eating, bulimia or conversely anorexia. In others, psychosomatic reactions predominate in ways such as stomach aches and headaches.

The author continues to elude that despite major disturbances affecting the victims which in these cases are the women, the effects are likely to be transferred to other parties constituting the environment in which they live. The victims possess high chances of mistreating their other children within the home environment due to reduced instinctive inhibition on expression as well as increasing potential violence and hostility. The father and couple relationships are also non-excluded from the victim's disturbances as a result of abortion. All the disturbances as a result of anger, guilt and distress cradle the relationship due to blame and destruction of the union symbol. Eventually, this increased deformities in the relationship tend to create a link between sexuality, fecundity, and death, hence ruining the entire life of the victims as well as their families.

While Beckwith (2006) uses the reasons that make women to commit abortion in justifying his call for legalizing it, the argument is erroneous. The reasons that Beckwith (2006) regarded as contributing to the need for abortion comprise when the fetus causes danger to the health of the mother, the fetus has significant complications that might hinder overall growth and development and rape. However, in there research, Frederico, Michielsen, Arnaldo, and Decat (2018) found the main reasons that make women to perform abortions to be very different. In that 92 percent of women who have abortion cite social or other reasons instead of the medical reasons and sexual assault on which Beckwith’s argument is founded. These social reasons include aspects such as wrong timing on the part of the mother or couples, not having the ability to care for a child, having relationship issues with the father of the child, and not feeling secure or mature enough to raise a child (Frederico et al., 2018). With such social reasons guiding abortion, it raises questions regarding whether the decision to abort should be left to the mother or couples, and equally, Beckwith’s justification for abortion is flowed.

Besides, Beckwith (2006) argues that when the fetus lowers the survival chances of the mother (puts the health of the mother at risk), it should be aborted. He proceeds to explain that the chances of the fetus developing on its own, in case the mother dies at the time of delivery are minimal. However, the author fails to note that significant progress has been made in the field of healthcare and children now have higher chances of surviving even if the mother dies at an early age (Frankovich, 2018).

In addition, Beckwith’s argument that the fetus is not a person is flawed. From scientific information, life starts at conception, and therefore, for the sake of morality, it would have been right to give the fetus some rights. Being a human offspring, the fetus does possess human personhood and blood as both logic and science prescribe (Frankovich, 2018). However, Beckwith’s view seems to denote that a person’s right to life is only granted based on the origin of the baby and not its human life.

Similarly, Pourreza and Batebi (2011) arguments also suffer from some logical issues. First, the authors’ overreliance on the emotional effects that abortion causes to the mother does not convince the reader. Simply put, when one decides to perform an abortion, he/she usually has evaluated both the negative and positive consequences that the act would lead to, and has formed a conclusion (Blofield, 2013). Therefore, to argue that it leads to psychological issues on the part of the woman is questionable. In addition, the argument that psychological difficulties affect the father and the relationship of the couples is not logical. In most cases, the decision to abort is usually a personal decision and studies have found that a large percentage of women who abort are not in marriages. Finally, the argument that abortion is against religious teachings takes the assumption that all people subscribe to religious teachings. However, it would be important to note that the western world is becoming more secular and to appeal to many people, then arguments must also resonate with the views of individuals. In this light, it would be justified to state that the pro-life paradox which the authors advocate makes it theoretically possible for a child who would have otherwise died blameless to be condemned in eternal death.

Nonetheless, both authors have presented arguments to support their end game. With regard to Beckwith (2006), he has argued why abortion should be permitted largely based on the view that a fetus is not yet a human being. However, Pourreza and Batebi (2011) had fewer thinking errors. He has tackled the topic of abortion in a way that resonates with many people. Conversely, Beckwith (2006) is more philosophical and this hinders understanding of his arguments. To better support his arguments, Beckwith should have shown how legalizing abortion could have reduced suffering and enhanced human livelihood. Statistics on the number of women and couples that have had a desirable life after an abortion could also have helped.

While Pourreza and Batebi (2011) had fewer thinking errors, a number of Supreme Court cases would have hindered the authors’ view. The January 22, 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that abortion was legal could have hindered the progress that the author makes in his article. Essentially outlawing abortion laws meant that the advances that had been made would be retracted (Greenhouse & Siegel, 2012). Besides, the recent Supreme Court ruling that found abortion restrictions by Northern Ireland that banned termination of pregnancy even in cases of fetal abnormality, rape, and incest to be a breach of Article 8 casts another obstruct to arguments against abortion.


Beckwith, F. J. (2006). Defending abortion philosophically: A review of David Boonin's a Defense of Abortion. The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 31(2), 177-203.

Blofield, M. (2013). The politics of moral sin: Abortion and divorce in Spain, Chile and Argentina. Routledge.

Frankovich, N. (2018). Technology, abortion and suicide. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Frederico, M., Michielsen, K., Arnaldo, C., & Decat, P. (2018). Factors influencing abortion decision-making processes among young women. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(2), 329.

Greenhouse, L., & Siegel, R. (2012). Before Roe v. Wade: Voices that shaped the abortion debate before the Supreme Court's ruling. Retrieved from https://documents.law.yale.edu/sites/default/files/beforeroe2nded_1.pdf

Oberman, M. (2018). Motherhood, abortion, and the medicalization of poverty. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 46(3), 665-671.

Pourreza, A., & Batebi, A. (2011). Psychological consequences of abortion among the post abortion care seeking women in Tehran. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, 6(1), 31-36.

Thomas, D. (2016). Better never to have been born. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

December 12, 2023

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