An essential problem in biomedical ethics is abortion — artificial termination of pregnancy. Currently, there are three leading positions in the attitude of people to induced abortion. The first thought is that it is morally permitted at any stage of embryo development since the fetus is part of the mother’s body and does not have the right to life. The second statement suggests that it is morally proper only in the initial stages of fetal development. However, there is also a third position that abortion is a form of killing a person. The embryo (and even more so the fetus) from the moment of conception is a personality with the right to life. It is the most accurate statement with the most arguments to support today’s society. Hence, supporters of various theories have argued about which opinion is the best for a long time. The question is whether abortion is a woman’s personal choice or a phenomenon that deprives a child of the right to life. This issue is debatable, but the freedom of women should not overshadow the rights of the unborn baby.
The support evidence
The fundamental ethical principle of opponents of abortion is the inviolability of the unborn child’s life. Artificial termination of pregnancy is regarded as human murder by almost every religion in the world. Moral inadmissibility is also reflected in the Hippocratic Oath, the first generally accepted document defining the sanctimonious law of medicine. The legal foundation for the argument is the Declaration of Human Rights, namely, the right of every human being to live. From the point of view of science, namely genetics and embryology, the development of personality begins at conception, at the moment of fusion of the nuclei in the male and female gamma. Therefore, an embryo is not just a part of a woman’s body; it is a biological structure that is not identical to any of her organs because it is a growing person. The fetus has a special ontological status: it is a ‘potential human being’ (Marquis 185). Its nature is predominantly biological, and socially, it is the object to which care should be directed in average, rather than deviant, cases of induced abortion.
A conceived child is already a whole individual with his rights, so the attempt on his presence can be qualified as murder. Guilt is complicated because the creature is helpless and dependent on the mother, who must be responsible for its safety. ‘The future of a standard fetus includes a set of experiences, projects, activities, and such which are identical with the futures of adult human beings and are identical with the futures of young children (Marquis 192). Therefore, there is no fundamental difference between killing a baby who has been born and abolishing one who has not yet been born. There is only a change of place with the birth process, but not a difference in the person’s quality. Thus, this means that abortion at any stage of pregnancy is the deliberate termination of a human’s life as a biological individual.
Moreover, abortion imposes severe risks to women’s health. It is a misconception that this process will not have any outcomes for the body. It frequently leads to numerous emotional, physical, hormonal, and mechanical injuries (Marquis 192). Loss of reproductive capacity and high maternal mortality rates are a reality facing almost every woman who had an abortion in the past. It also has terrible psychological consequences as it causes moral and spiritual traumas that will haunt females for the rest of their lives. It is much easier to remove an infant from the womb than its memory from the soul.
The wrong decision, once made, can change the whole life. Abortion causes irreparable damage to a woman’s mental and physical health; regardless of the circumstances, childbirth is preferable because it is a natural process (Marquis 189). In the case of abortion, it is likely that in the future, when a woman decides to have a baby, she will be deprived of such an opportunity. The number of families who cannot have children, although they desire to, ranges from 8 to 15%. That is already a relatively high score, and abortions can increase it even more significantly. Therefore, before making such an influential decision, one should assess all the risks and consider the future unavoidable outcomes.
The contra argument
The proponents of abortion also present arguments to justify it. They are based on the concept of human rights, including reproductive ones. Reproductive rights are, in a sense, fundamental freedoms, especially for women. The author of the article ‘Our right to choose: Challenging the state’s control over women’s bodies’ mentions:
‘The struggle for abortion rights is inextricably linked to the fight for women’s liberation, to the struggle against male ownership of women’s bodies and to the desire to dismantle the patriarchal family system which breeds both economic and gender oppression’ (Santini 41).
The fundamental right that any woman needs is to be able to dispose of their bodies and control what happens to them.
Defenders of abortion maintain that the fetus is part of a woman’s body and cannot be considered a full-fledged child until birth. Accordingly, neither the government nor society should interfere in a woman’s private life. No one should force them to continue a pregnancy against their will. It is worth noting that the abortion ban deprives a woman of power over her own body and condemns such a right, even when the woman has objective reasons to do so. For example, the ability to terminate a pregnancy if a woman has been raped or has incest is necessary in today’s world (Santini 40). Therefore, the modern community and government cannot try to limit the natural rights of women. Obviously, in some cases, termination of pregnancy can be admitted, but most females inappropriately use it. A child’s right to life is on a par with a woman’s freedom to dispose of her body.
Supporters of abortion also take into account the health risks that arise during pregnancy and childbirth. The birth process is long, painful, and sometimes even fatal (Santini 39). Moreover, women can have many contraindications to productivity, such as heart disease, kidney failure, lung disorder, and hypertension. Such severe disorders can harm both the fetus and the woman. For example, hypertension increases the risk of complications such as intrauterine growth retardation and preeclampsia. Thus, it is believed that the abortion procedure is necessary to preserve health and avoid the birth of a child with disabilities. Moreover, it is believed that the woman could die from painful shock, or the baby could suffocate during birth (Santini 39). Given that this process is dangerous, women should be provided with the freedom to choose if they want to experience pain and fear or not.
It is essential to state that all potential diseases and risks can be foreseen and assessed before pregnancy. Furthermore, medicine is very progressive, and there are now many methods that can keep the expectant mother and her child healthy. In the presence of serious illnesses, the functionality of the entire body is impaired. Still, if pregnancy occurs, it can be considered that the female can carry the baby. Children with inabilities also have the right to life, and there are all necessary means for that. There are many educational programs and techniques to make their lives happy and full. Childbirth is dangerous; however, it is not a forced intervention but a natural process that has been going on for centuries. If everything takes place under the careful supervision of doctors, the risks are insignificant.
People should try not to destroy abortion as a phenomenon because major, mainly social causes, will remain unchanged. The practice of abortion will be transferred to the shadow sphere, which will lead to a risk to women’s health. It is worth working to ensure that women do not want to kill an unborn child. In order for society to share the view of the negative determination of abortion, it is essential to improve awareness of the sinfulness of such operations. It is also essential to remark that developing and increasing government assistance at birth can encourage women to remain pregnant. At the same time, providing quality sex education at school will help reduce the percentage of undesired pregnancies.
Marquis, Don. ‘Why Abortion is Immoral’ The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 86, no. 4, 1989, pp. 183-202.
Virginia Santini. ‘Our Right to Choose: Challenging the State’s Control over Women’s Bodies.’ Socialist Lawyer, no. 72, 2016, pp. 39–41.