The Right to Choice over Right to ‘Life’

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Abortion refers to the end of embryo or fetus before it is born. Most view abortion as an undisputed crime as killing and should be punishable by statute. The pro-life movement is the party of people advocating against abortion. They recommend that the child should have the unknown future instead of having an abortion because the unborn child's existence is unlikely to be observable. Abortion is undisputedly regarded by the pro-life community as an act of murder. Pro-life activists state that the unborn child should be given the right and a chance to live. Standing on the opposite side, the pro-choice groups possess the view that abortion should be universally legal because it does not meet the definition of murder before the fetus has fully become a human being. The opinion counters the pro-life group which equates abortion as a form of murder. The pro-choice school of thought proposes that the parent of the unborn child has the right to procure an abortion or not, because they have the authority to give or deny the unborn child the right to live and have a productive life. There are many different opinions on the act of abortion from different authors and different schools of thoughts.

According to Farrell (54), the pro-life movement is of the opinion that the unborn child is a human being and should be given a chance to live without interference of his/her biological carrier. Logically terminating the life of the unborn child is considered a criminal act, murder, a crime against life and humanity, and it should be punishable by law in any noble nation. The pro-life school of thought is backed up by the laws of countries that consider abortion as a form of crime. For instance, in Ireland, abortion is an unlawful act punished by law, and anyone who gets involved in the procurement of abortion is considered a criminal and faces the consequence of breaking the law. As the pro-life group tries to impact their opinion to the public, they have a strong support from the governments and nations that consider abortion as a serious crime. The American Medical Association (AMA) also considers abortion as a form of crime equivalent to murder. Another pro-life support is in some extreme cases, the mother's life might be at risk since she might die from complications in the process of procuring an abortion. There are also other negative health implications on the mother, which may include permanent reproductive health problems, psychological trauma, emotional instability, and sociological problems in future.

A truly great controversy surrounds the pro-life and pro-choice schools of thought on the opinion about abortion. Each group tries to justify their opinion on abortion and impact their view on the public. The pro-choice school of thought is of the view that the women have the freedom and the rights to choose whether to have an abortion or not. Thus, there should be no interference with the woman's decision to abort. It should be illegal to interfere with the woman's independent decision and human rights. The examples of legalization of abortion are publicized as strengthening of human rights, women's rights and civil rights. It gives a woman a chance to have reproductive rights over her body. In a controversial article "Defense of abortion” written by Judith Thomson, she explains it is wrong to go against the will of a woman who wants to procure an abortion since the woman has the right over the life of the unborn child. It gives woman the right over her body and her reproductive life (Haney 119). The pro-choice groups also have support from the legal backing by the laws of countries that legalize abortion such as Canada (Farrell 73).

Judith Thomson in her article "Defense of Abortion” considers the point that abortion is murder and should be considered illegal. She argues that the pro-life school of thought states that the fetus is a human being at the point of conception, but in her opinion, this is not the case. Judith states that the fetus becomes a human being only at the last stages of pregnancy, and stresses that if the fetus does not have a consciousness and it does not constitute as a human being. Judith Thomson Also argues that a woman has the rights over her body to procure an abortion at any stage of pregnancy as long as it is to the best interest of the mother and the future of child. Although Thompson herself does not present any clear or definite time period after which the embryo can be considered to be a human being, she does acknowledge that the fetus takes up human form and becomes a human a long time before birth. She takes up the point of view that if people start considering the fetus as a person right from the point of conception, then abortion would be constituted as murder. This argument clearly shows that Judith Thomson is a strong supporter of the pro-choice school of abortion advocating women’s rights over her body including the termination of pregnancy. The pro-choice activists support legalization of abortion and give the women the independent right to decide whether to abort or not. In this case, the rights of a mother overrule the rights of the unborn child.

The debate over abortion is clearly revealed between arguments of the pro-life and pro-choice schools of thoughts. Despite the arguments by the pro-choice, the pro-life school of thought activists base their arguments on the fetus as a human being and should be entitled to the right to life. The procurement of abortion is a form of discrimination against the unborn child. It is a great injustice to deny the unborn child any chance to live. The human life should be protected at any stage of development (Kaczor 37). A critical point Kaczor brings out is that all cases of major human rights violations have erupted from attempting to make distinctions between what is considered species wise a human persons and human non-persons. As soon as the human but not yet a person category is allowed in history somehow permission is granted for all sorts of grotesque abuses. According to Haney (132), valuing of human life should be taken as a top priority since every human is entitled to live. They emphasize that scientifically the fetus by stating that life starts at conception when the ova fuse with the sperm.

It is evident that the abortion debate is critical and multifaceted, it should not be taken lightly and must be examined though many perspectives. The pro-life approach on abortion looks into to the moral obligation of procuring abortion, the fact that the unborn child has got the right to choose life, and that the act of abortion should be criminalized and punishable by law. However, the pro-choice approach is of the view that women have undisputable rights over their body and reproductive life, and the choice to abort or not should be solely left to the women. It directly advocates for legalized abortion that denies the unborn child the right to life. It is critical to evaluate laws and policies that surround the issue of abortion to provide a constructive guideline on abortion to guide the society. The peoples support for the pro-life and pro-choice schools of thoughts will depend on the soundness of arguments and circumstances of each unique case.

One of the common pro-life groups argument that a fetus is a human being and have a right to live and therefore, procuring an abortion is crime. Yes, its true that fetus is life, however, the fetus cannot survive on its own but rather is fully dependent on the mother’s body (Holt and Hinman 6). It is only at birth that the fetus gains the physical capacity for independent survival therefore its only at birth that the potential for being a person becomes a reality. Before birth, the fetus cannot be reason and therefore cannot be classified as a person. The rights the pro-life supporters choose to defend their argument with do not qualify to be since it’s only a person, with proper claims to its own life.

It should be right for the mother to terminate the life of the fetus should she feel its right to do so. Additionally, as pro-life supporters state that the fetus has a right to life does not mean that they have the right to use someone else’ body. Just like one has the right to decline to donate his/her body organs to save another person’s life even if they share close blood relation like a mother and a daughter. Bearing a child can put the mother’s life in danger. The right to life as argued by the pro-life means that it’s okay for the mother to risk her life for the sake of the fetus. In addition to that, women too have rights and therefore the right to life of the fetus does not mean imposing this right on the women.

If a woman willfully engaged in sex then she knowingly took the risk of getting pregnant and should therefore be responsible for her actions, in this case the fetus. The assertion that giving birth to the baby is a responsible choice in case of a pregnancy is just an opinion. It is the mother who undergoes the burden of carrying the fetus and will go through the experience of giving birth should she decide to keep the fetus. If the mother knows that she will not be able to take care of the baby, then it should be within her rights and freedom to procure an abortion (Lopez 514). By doing so she will have avoided a lot of undue suffering and misery that would befall her and her baby.

Procuring an abortion is not really avoiding responsibility as may be argued by the pro-life supporters. That argument implies that when a woman chooses to have sex then its her responsibility to take care of the baby. It only makes an argument for the life of the baby and not the woman. Practicing safe sex prevents one from getting pregnant, but its personal choice whether to practice safe sex or not to. Therefore, if a woman decides not to use contraception when having sex and as a result gets pregnant then its her choice and thus, her responsibility too. What to do with the pregnancy should be her choice, to keep it and deliver or to abort.

The pro-life supporters argue that the mother should keep the fetus and deliver. However, there are cases such as rape and incest that may lead to pregnancy. In addition to that, during pregnancy, health complications may arise that may call for abortion. In such cases, in the long run, the better option is to terminate the pregnancy by procuring an abortion. It’s only fair so long as there are life-threatening pregnancies, that not all women are on contraceptives, there are incidents of rape and incest then the choice to keep a pregnancy or terminate it should be left to the woman (Holt and Hinman 14). She might to have had a choice, in the case of pregnancy resulting from rape, however, she should be given the right to choose whether to keep or abort the baby.

Abortion exposes the mother to risks, some of which are life threatening and some attempted abortions have resulted in death. Just like abortion, medical surgery there are risks involved and so is the same for giving birth too. Studies have shown that patients suffer from effects of surgery. Similarly, some studies have proved that depression is a common consequence for women who have had abortions. On the other hand, research indicates that up to 15 - 85% of women who have delivered go through postpartum depression within the first 10 days of giving birth (Pearlstein, Howard and Salisbury). Therefore, just like hospitals have resources for safe delivery of babies, they ought to also have resources for doing abortions. If that is done, then women, will not have to abort in secrecy in ways that endanger their lives. Pregnant women should then have the choice to keep or abort the fetus.

The debate on abortion will always be there, with the pro-life and the pro-choice supporters both asserting their views and arguments. Both the pro-life and pro-choice supporters have good points supporting what they stand for and it’s good that they all seek to protect either the child or the mother. The pro-life are fighting of the unborn child’s life while the pro-choice are fighting for the mother’s rights. Even though abortion illegal in many countries in the world, it remains one of the biggest all time controversies (Lopez 512). Even with abortion being illegal and even if it is made illegal in the whole world, women will still procure abortions. The unfortunate thing is that, these abortions are not performed by qualified persons and hence death and life threatening complications arise from these unsafe abortions. Even those who support pro-life because of their religions, like the Catholics, are also part of the statistics of the women that procure abortions. To avoid such deaths and awkward situations of secret unsafe abortions, pro-choice should be embraced.

Works Cited

Farrell, C. The Abortion Debate, Minnesota: ABDO Publishing Company, 2008.Print.

Haney, J. The Abortion Debate: Understanding the Issues. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publisher, 2009.Print.

Holt, Claudine and Pip Hinman. Abortion: A Woman's Right to Choose. Newtown: El Faro Printing, 2008. Print.

Kaczor, C. R. The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life, and the

Question of Justice. Madison Avenue, New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.Print.

Lopez, Raquel. "Perspectives on Abortion: Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, and What Lies in between." European Journal of Social Sciences (2012): 511 - 517. Print.

Pearlstein, Teri, et al. Postpartum Depression. April 2009. Web. 3 March 2017. .

July 24, 2021



Reproductive Health

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