Abortion 8 Essay, Research Paper
Right, Wrong, or a Little of Both?
Abortion is a controversial topic that has been debated heavily for several years. Some say that life begins upon conception, and therefore performing an abortion is purposely murdering a human. Others say that to be considered a fully functioning human being, skills such as reasoning, and the ability to live independent from any type of host, must first be developed. These people feel that life begins upon birth, rather than conception, and so an abortion is not murder. And still others are in the gray when it comes to this topic. They may feel that abortion is acceptable in certain cases, but possibly still consider somewhat of a murder. In this paper, I intend to explain each of these points more in depth, and I will also offer my own personal opinion about abortion.
The general view on abortion is a three-part statement. First, it is wrong to kill a human being. Second, a fetus is a human being. And third, it is therefore wrong to kill a fetus. This idea is one that is shared by pro-life people. They look at the raw fact of the situation: an abortion is murder. How could anyone justify the killing of an innocent fetus? To be killed before having one fair chance at life on earth is the most cruel and unfair thing to do to someone. These are all comments that someone who is pro-life would make.
The Catholic Church belongs to this group of pro-life believers. They believe that we were all created in God’s image, and because of His decision to create us. They would argue that if a fetus exists, it is because God has some sort of a reason why. To kill this fetus would be to go against the will of God. The church has an esteemed reverence for the dignity of life. They are openly against killing a fetus for mostly all cases, with very few exceptions. The primary exception would be a situation where the mother’s life was in jeopardy, and the only way for her to survive is to abort the fetus. Even though the church would usually be against an abortion in mostly all other situations, it would most likely allow such an exception to take place if the abortion was absolutely necessary for the mother’s survival.
Judith Jarvis Thomson, an advocate of abortion, describes the anti-abortion argument in a sarcastic manner. “Every person has a right to life. So the fetus has a right to life. No doubt the mother has the right to decide what shall happen in and to her body; everyone would grant that. But surely a person’s right to life is stronger and more stringent than the mother’s right to decide what happens in and to her body, and so outweighs it. So the fetus may not be killed; an abortion may not be performed” (738). She goes on to say that this argument seems to be plausible.
She then offers an example of a somewhat similar situation. In this example, one person is suffering from a deadly kidney ailment. (We will call this person PA for Person A.) Another person is kidnapped, (whom we will call PB for Person B), to save the victim’s life. PA’s circulatory system is plugged into PB’s to extract poisons from both people’s blood. Now that these two people are plugged into each other, PA’s life is dependent upon PB. If they are unplugged, PA will die. Now what is ethically right here? It should be agreed upon by everyone that we all have the right to decide what happens in and to our bodies. But according to the pro-life argument from before, a person’s right to life outweighs the right to decide what happens to another person’s body. In this case, PB was taken and was offered to save PA’s life against his own will. He did not volunteer to save PA’s life, nor did he, in any way, assume any form of responsibility for it. Therefore, I feel that PB has the opportunity of choice in this example. If he does not want to go through with saving PA’s life he doesn’t have to.
To equate this opinion with my view on abortion is simple. I feel that if a woman is impregnated against her will, either by rape or some other form of forced pregnancy, she has the unrestricted opportunity to choose what to do with the fetus. Becoming pregnant from a rape incident obviously shows that the woman assumed no responsibility for a possible pregnancy. Having sex was against her will entirely, and if she hadn’t had sex she wouldn’t be pregnant. If she wants to have an abortion in this case, her choice should be granted immediately. I feel that the fetus does have a right to life, but in these extreme cases the mother’s right to decide what happens in or to her body outweighs that right.
Before, I briefly touched upon the issue of the mother’s life being in jeopardy, and the Catholic Church’s position on that matter. I would like to offer my own opinion on that same issue. Again I choose to cite an example from J.J. Thomson’ article in Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues. She offers a hypothetical scenario where the mother’s life will be terminated if she goes through with the childbirth. In this situation it is inevitable that either the mother or the fetus will have to die. Thomson says that they both have a right to life, and it would be difficult to say who has more of a right to life than the other does. However, she says that by adding the mother’s right to determine what happens in and to her body, the sum of her rights outweighs the sum of the fetus’. I agree with her again in this situation. The mother is already a fully functioning, living human being. She has a life in which she obviously has at least one connection with some other human being. For her to be forced to sacrifice such a life for the sole purpose of avoiding an abortion is ludicrous. Once again, I am not denying the fetus’ right to life, I am simply recognizing that I believe the mother’s right to life outweighs it.
One other special case that I would like to address is the whole issue regarding birth control. First of all, we must think of a possible situation where the mother is attempting to use abortion as some form of birth control. To go out at night and flaunt her body all over town with the sole intention of having sex; knowing that even if tonight she gets pregnant, it doesn’t matter because she can go down to the clinic and have an abortion is no way to act. This form of behavior, in my opinion, is absolutely uncalled for and extremely immature. Just knowing that there are people out there who have had multiple abortions and continue to have unprotected, promiscuous sex frightens me. I feel this type of unethical behavior is not acceptable in this, and many other societies.
I do, however, feel differently when speaking about the second birth control scenario I will address. Consider the “morning after pill” for a moment. It is a pill that, when taken by the female the morning after she engages in sexual activity, either protected or unprotected, raises the levels of estrogen in the female’s body to levels far exceeding any additional testosterone inside the woman from her male partner. This “wipes out” any type of zygote that may have began to form inside the mother’s uterus. I am not against this type of birth control. In a perfect world, I would only allow women who used some type of contraception during their sexual episodes to use this pill. But realistically speaking about our current society, something like that is impossible to monitor. If women are going to have the initiative to purchase such a pill, either as a primary or additional form of birth control, it is obvious they are doing their best to prevent the pregnancy. Since they have no desire to have the baby, and they are attempting to avoid pregnancy at the cost of taking this pill, I respect this type of behavior and do not consider it to be any form of abortion.
The final unique case I will address, is the ethical decision behind aborting the life of a fetus that cannot avoid being born with some type of terrible disease, deformity, severe retardation, etc. Is it wrong to kill such a “doomed” fetus, or is it for the fetus’ best interest? First of all, a fetus does not have the ability to reason between what’s good and what’s bad for it. Therefore the fetus is unable to decide for itself what will happen in or to its body, a right that is held in such high esteem by all of the pro-choice people out there for the mother. Since the fetus does not have this ability, or right, the choice of whether or not it should be born with a major problem will be made by someone else. I am against this. I do not think that “mercy killing” a fetus because the mother decides, if it were to be born anyway, it wouldn’t really have a fair chance at life. There are places in this world that concentrate their existence on trying to provide a fair chance to people with any type of retardation. Whether it be a fetus that will be born with only one arm, or be born with a severe case of cerebral palsy, or even be born a hemophiliac, there are places designated to care for such babies like this. I think the woman should have her “retarded” fetus, and if she has decided that she cannot, or does not want to, raise the child, it will be adopted by either a family wanting a handicapped child or a home specifically created to provide care for such troubled babies.
In conclusion, I will briefly restate my opinions on given random examples of abortion. First off, I am pro-choice for abortions performed by mothers that were impregnated against their will. Secondly, I am not against having an abortion done to save the mother’s life. My third and fourth points are somewhat related: third – I am against using abortion as a sole form of birth control; and fourth – I am not against the use of “morning after” pills to help prevent a pregnancy from taking place. And my fifth and final point made in this paper, is that I am against having an abortion to avoid giving birth to some sort of a deformed baby. When taking all of my points into consideration, one can easily see that I belong to the aforementioned group of people who are in the gray when it comes to abortion. In some cases I think it is entirely wrong to have an abortion, while in other cases I am obviously pro-choice. As you can see, abortion is a very serious and controversial issue that we are forced to face in today’s society.