- April 13, 2020
Abortion refers to the intentional termination of a pregnancy beforethe developing fetus can survive on its own (Boonin,2013). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), in2012, its 49 reporting areas registered 699,202 legally inducedabortions. The reporting rate was 13.2 abortions for every 1,000women between 15-44 years old. The rate of abortion stood at 210abortions for every 1,000 live births in 2012 (Center for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2016). This was a decrease of 4% compared tothe number of abortions legally induced in 2011. The major concernsurrounding the issue of abortion is whether it is morally right toterminate the life of a developing fetus intentionally. This paperargues that a fetus does not have the right to life hence, apregnant mother should be empowered to make the right decision onwhether or not to terminate her pregnancy.
To begin with, a fetus does not have a right to life. One of thearguments held by the opponents of abortion is that a fetus enjoysthe right to life. First, a fetus cannot survive on its own hence itdepends on its mother for survival. Besides, even if a fetus containsliving cells which make it a living thing, the right to life does notimply the use of someone else’s body to survive(Boonin, 2013). For example, no law can force a personto forfeit one of his/her organs to save the life of anotherindividual. Similarly, a pregnant woman should not be forced tosacrifice her needs to carry the pregnancy to full term. Besides, theright to life does not imply that one individual should live even ifhis/her existence harms another person. In some cases, carrying apregnancy to full term may be life-threatening. For example,according to Pheo (2011), teens whose bodies are not well developedare five times more likely to die during childbirth. Teen pregnanciesresult in the death of 70,000 girls aged 15-19 years annually (Pheo,2011). Besides, even children resulting from teen pregnancies faceincreased chances of dying. By preventing pregnant teens fromaborting, the society would be depicting the life of a fetus as moreimportant compared to that of the mother.
Apart from having no right to life, a fetus is not a human being.Hence, abortion is the termination of a pregnancy and not the killingof the baby. First, an individual`s age is calculated from his/herdate of birth not when he/she was conceived. Besides, the fetuses arenot counted during the census. This means that the society in itsdefinition of what constitutes a human being “excluded fetuses evenbefore abortion became a burning issue” (Bailey, 2011, 56). Theconcept of personhood differs from that of human life. According toSchwartz, a person is a “being who has the fundamental inherentcapacity to function as a person irrespective of whether or not thiscapacity is blocked such as the case of severe senility” (Boonin,2013, 23). As such, for opponents of abortion, such as Schwartz, afetus is a human being because even though it does not have thecapacity to think, it will finally be able to do so in the future.However, Boonin (2013) discredits this definition of personhood byarguing that it is possible for a fetus to have severe deformitiesthat will prevent it from ever developing the ability to think.Additionally, even though human life begins at conception, “in somecases the fertilized egg may be discarded yet this is not referred toas murder” (Bailey, 2011, 70). For example, the fertilized eggsthat fail to get implanted during in vitro fertilization areroutinely thrown away.
More so, some women seek abortion services because of medicalreasons. Approximately 6% of abortions are induced following thedoctor’s advice that carrying the pregnancy to full term may belethal to the women(Kirkman et al., 2011). Several medical reasons mayprompt a physician to recommend the termination of a pregnancy. Forexample, a fetus may be exposed to high level of radioactiveparticles that increase its chances of dying before birth orcontracting certain genetic conditions such as cancer. This mayhappen if a pregnant mother suffers from a condition where she isforced to undergo several operations that use radioactive technologysuch as the CT scans(Kirkman et al., 2011). Besides, a pregnant mother maybe suffering from a condition resulting in her taking certainmedicines that are known to have severe health implication on herunborn baby. Also, the fetus may be suffering from certain geneticdefects that threaten its life either before or after birth. Anexample, one such genetic defect is the Down syndrome. Also, womensuffering from eclampsia face increased risks of injuring themselvesand their unborn baby. Eclampsia results in the blood rising abovethe normal level leading to seizures(Kirkman et al., 2011).
Apart from medical reasons, women should be allowed to choose toundergo abortion after a rape incident that results in them becomingpregnant. According to Randall (2013), approximately 1% of allabortions involve a woman who has been sexually assaulted. About10,000-15,000 abortions annually are sought by women whosepregnancies are as a result of either a rape or incest incident(Randall, 2013). Raping incidents have severe psychological effectsto a pregnant mother even upon her giving birth. Children are asource of memories. As such, women choose to conceive in order tokeep the memories of certain people or events, for example, throughnaming their children after their mother (Bailey, J. (2011).However, most of the time children born out of rape or incestincidents remind the mothers of the ordeal that resulted in thembecoming pregnant. If a pregnant woman is prevented from terminatingthe pregnancy she received after being raped, she may become cruel tothe child upon giving birth. Every child has a right to be loved. However, this may not be possible if he/she reminds his/her mother ofa painful situation.
In addition to some pregnancies resulting from rape incident, thecost of raising a child may be too high for certain women resultingin them opting for abortion. According to Kirkman (2011), a pregnantwoman needs to set aside at least $800 to cater for the cost of hergiving birth in a hospital as well as for the prenatal care servicesprovided by a physician. After giving birth successfully, the cost ofraising one child from birth until he/she reaches 18 years is about$200,000 (Kirkman, 2011). This amount may be unaffordable to mostwomen making abortion the best option. Every child has a right toproper care. This means that a pregnant mother should have theresources needed to cater for the various needs of her child whichinclude food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education. However,this is not possible to many women considering the high number ofuninsured Americans.
Besides, illegalizing abortion does not eliminate it instead, itmakes it less safe. Out of the 699, 202 abortions procured in 2012,only 20% were medical abortions (Center for Disease Control andPrevention, 2016). Besides, according to Randall (2013),approximately 43% of women in America will have at least one abortionin their entire lifetime. This means that even if abortion is illegalin some states, it is still prevalent across the country. As such,allowing pregnant mothers to access abortions from qualifiedphysicians will reduce maternal injury and fatalities that occurduring abortions conducted by untrained personnel. Some of the methodwomen use to procure an abortion in case they do not want to visit ahospital are life-threatening, and they include the use of coathangers, flush radiator, and knitting needle (Bailey, 2011).
In conclusion, this paper has demonstrated that the rights of apregnant mother should be more paramount compared to that of herunborn children. The argument that a fetus has a right to life ismisconstrued because it cannot survive on its own. Due to itsdependent nature, the mother should be empowered to make the decisionon whether or not to undergo an abortion. Besides, some fetuses faceincreased risks of developing deformities that may undermine theirability to function as human beings upon birth. Also, every child hasa right to be loved and cared for. Hence, whenever a potential motherfeels that she cannot provide either the love or the basic needs herunborn child would need, there is nothing wrong if she chooses toundergo an abortion.
Bailey, J. (2011). Abortion:Ethical debates. New York: Rosen Central publishers.
Boonin,D. (2013). Adefense of abortion.Cambridge University Press.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Data andStatistics: Abortion.” Accessed on November 14, 2016.http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/
Kirkman, etal., (2011). Reasons women give for abortion: a review of theliterature. Archivesof women`s mental health, 12(6),365-378.
Pheo, J. (2011).10 arguments in favor of the pro-choice policy.Accessed on November 15, 2016.http://amplifyyourvoice.org/u/pheo152/2009/01/26/10-arguments-in-favor-of-prochoice-policy/
Randall, O. (2013). "Why Women Have ? New Studyprovides some Answers." Web. Accessed on 6th October2015http://www.lifenews.com/2013/10/10/why-do-women-have-abortions-new-study-provides-some-answers/