Abortion Dilemna Essay, Research Paper
ABORTION: All sides of the issue
Overview of abortion: An unsolvable dilemma?
How often: In the United States, women choose to end about 25% of their
pregnancies through abortion. 1 This number has been gradually declining
since 1979. This is similar to the Canadian figure of 21%, 2 but is much
lower than that of the former Soviet Union (60%) and Romania (78%) where
contraceptives are in short supply.
Opposing beliefs: A social consensus exists that when life becomes
human life, that the human being must be protected. Many religions,
organizations and individuals have passionately held but conflicting beliefs
about when human life begins. This naturally leads to opposing policies on
whether a woman should have access to abortion. In spite of what the media
might say, this struggle cannot be reduced to a simple pro-choice vs. pro-life
conflict. There are people within each “side” who take many slightly
To most pro-lifers, life becomes human life at the instant of
conception. Thus, they see an abortion clinic as the ethical equivalent of a
Nazi death camp. To pro-choicers, human life begins later in gestation or at
birth. They view abortion as a civil rights matter — a decision that should be
left up to an informed woman and her physician. The objectives of both
groups are the same: to reduce the number of abortions, and to make any
needed abortions safe. However, they have very different methods of
achieving their goals, and they have divergent beliefs about which abortions
are justifiable. They are thus unable to cooperate. That is, in our opinion, a
pity. With the energy, knowledge and ability that each side has, they could
make major reductions in the abortion rate if they were able to cooperate.
Status: In the U.S., the pro-life and pro-choice movements are both
powerful and active. At this time, compromise appears to be impossible.
In Canada, the pro-life movement has lost most of its funding and
does little more than conduct candle-light vigils, and issue press releases.
With the exception of news about a lone, anti-abortion, November 11th
assassin, abortion rarely is discussed in the media. The country does not even
have a law controlling abortions.
Terminology: Various pro-life and pro-choice groups have different
definitions for words such as pregnancy, human life, abortion, etc. This
causes immense confusion. We will use the generally accepted medical
definitions in this series of essays.
There are two inconsistencies in the “pro-life” stance taken by many
In christians there appears to be relatively little mention of IUD’s
(Intra-uterine devices). The precise mechanism by which IUDs prevent
pregnancy is unknown. Some researchers believe that the IUD immobilizes
sperm, preventing them from reaching the ovum;
Others believe that it causes the ovum to pass through the fallopian tube so
fast that it is unlikely to be fertilized
Most believe that the IUD interferes with the implantation of fertilized
ovum in the uterine wall.
If the third property is true, then IUDs terminate the development of a
fertilized ovum after conception, and cause its expulsion from the body. To a
person who believes that life becomes human life at the instant of
conception, there is no ethical difference between using an IUD, having a
first trimester abortion, or having a partial birth abortion. Yet pro-life groups
actively campaign against PBA’s, picket abortion clinics, and attempt to pass
restrictive legislation limiting choice in abortion.. Some have made negative
statements about IUDs. But none have, to our knowledge, picketed IUD
manufacturing facilities, or sponsored anti-IUD legislation. This is
surprising, because in those countries where IUDs are widely used, the
number of fertilized eggs which IUDs apparently expel from women’s bodies
far exceeds the number of surgical abortions. About 43% of American
women will have had a surgical abortion sometime during their lifetime;
about the same percentage of women who use an IUD will expel a fertilized
ovum every 6 months (assuming that they engage in intercourse once per
At no time in the history of the Church have an embryo or pre-viable fetus
been considered full persons to the extent of being worthy of a formal
requiem mass or formal burial service.