Abortion Essay, Research Paper
Probably one of the most ethical issues in the past fifty years, the concept of abortion created an eternal debate that opposed different opinions. It is nearly impossible anymore to find someone who doesn’t have an opinion about abortion, and probably a strong opinion at that. Yet the endless debate on the topic usually goes nowhere, leaving the opponents even more committed to their positions and the open minders confused. Both sides make a good case. An unwanted child is a pitiful thing, and the attendant social problems (single motherhood, financial destitution, child neglect, and urban overcrowding) do not have easy solutions. On the other hand, the thought of terminating something that, if left to run its natural course, would immediately result in the birth of a human being gives all but the most hard-headed among us cause for serious introspection. In order to understand the true meaning of the abortion act, we should approach the debate from several perspectives, focusing on the question of when the fetus’ life as a person begins. History, Medicine, Law, and The Bible are the fields I studied to reach a conclusion, personal or not, that illustrates my reflection on the subject.
Abortion and its practices have been mentioned throughout recorded history. Pro-abortionists invariably understand past cultures as favoring abortion, with the exception of small but vocal anti-abortion groups. Working from the same evidence, anti-abortionists perceive general historical opposition to abortion, except for some renegade abortion supporters. In antiquity, abortion was a dangerous practice that endangered the
mother’s life. However, infanticide (killing the baby outside the womb after delivery) was a prominent subject of debate much like abortion is today, for most of the same reasons. Hippocrates, the “father of modern medicine” opposed abortion in his Oath. This goes back to 400BC, almost two thousand and five hundred years ago. As abortion became safer, the Catholic Church decided to enact laws restricting the practice. For this Church, the fetus became animated (i.e. a living person) at conception. Also, Conservative Judaism, traditional Catholicism and fundamental Protestantism have always prohibited the abortion of an animate fetus.
At first glance the question of when life begins appears to be primarily a medical one. Until the 1960s, the American Medical Association (AMA) called abortion “a criminal act that ignored the obvious medical fact that fetal life began at conception”. However, post war America began to manifest a new moral identity, one that focused on individual rights over personal responsibility and on quality of life over the intrinsic value of life. The relative safety of abortion procedures, combined with this moral “cool down” caused the AMA to relax its opposition to abortion in 1967 and to entirely abandon it in 1970. In 1967 some states relaxed their abortion laws and, in 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion throughout the land.
On January 22 1973, the Supreme Court made abortion legal for the entire country, subject to some limited provisions.