There are two types of abortion: spontaneous and induced. Spontaneous abortion or miscarriage is when a foetus dies naturally inside the mother. Induced abortion is when the foetus is deliberately killed by taking it from the mother’s womb. This essay is about induced abortion.
Abortion is a subject that many people have strong views on. Anti-abortionists believe a person is alive from the moment a human egg is fertilised and any attempt to end that life – before or after birth – is murder. One anti-abortionist wrote, “There is no difference in killing a four-year-old child and aborting a pre-born child.” One protester at an abortion clinic said “I don’t believe in killing abortion doctors but I believe in heaven and hell…. I feel they will go straight to hell.”
It is hard to see the other side of things. Many women’s groups believe that abortion brings equality between sexes. One woman wrote a book saying “ We support the rights of the individual woman to choose, to choose pregnancy or abortion.”
There is halfway point between the other two views. Some people believe abortion should be available but only for specific medical and social reasons: women who have been raped, women who know that the foetus is handicapped, and women who could suffer in childbirth causing possible death.
In the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act was introduced to mainly to stop illegal and dangerous abortions. By making abortion legal, politicians hoped fewer women would die or suffer as a consequence of badly performed abortions. Today, abortion is illegal in very few countries-even those with religious beliefs and traditions. During the 1960s and 1970s many governments relaxed their abortion laws and made it easier for women to terminate unwanted pregnancies. In a few countries such as the Soviet Union abortion is seen as an alternative to contraception. In China women are forced to have abortions because of the one-child-per-family policy. This policy is aimed at reducing the country’s overpopulation problems.
No religion actually supports abortion. Although some religions accept that are certain circumstances where abortion is necessary. Pope John Paul II has always stressed the anti-abortion attitude of the Roman Catholic Church. The attitude of the Church of England is less clear. In 1985, the Bishop of Birmingham put up a Bill in the House of Lords suggesting that the time limit for abortion in the UK should be reduced to 24 weeks. This act was passed allowing abortions to only take place up to 24 weeks unless ‘the quality life’ wasn’t going to be satisfactory. The time was reduced because it is said the baby becomes ‘viable’ after 24 weeks meaning it may have a chance of surviving. The Anglican Church has tended to take a more broad-minded view towards abortion. The Jewish faith discourages abortion, except when the life of the mother is at risk. Muslims also believe that abortion is wrong and can only be appropriate in very rare cases, such as when the mother’s life is at risk. One woman wrote “A woman does not create the foetus but receives it; the foetus is entrusted to her.” Some people believe that life as we know it only begins when the brain is formed.
In countries that allow abortion, the mothers needs are put first before the foetus. It may be decided that she is unable to care for her child, by age, health, mental development and social damage, so she has an abortion. It is often thought abortion is unwomanly because women are destined to care and to protect. By having an abortion they are not being caring or protecting. A new baby can bring joy to one woman, but heartache to another if she feels unable to care for the baby. An unwanted child puts great pressure on a couple’s relationship. One 17-year-old girl said, “Even though I’ve had an abortion I wouldn’t like others to use abortion as another form of contraceptive. For abortion is not preventing a birth but killing an individual.” It is hard to judge who should be allowed abortion. Does a woman who isn’t in a steady relationship have fewer rights to abortion than a woman who knows her baby is deformed?
Over the last few years many men have gone to court to try and stop their partners from having abortions. All have failed. One man said, “Our babies can be killed and you can’t even have a proper funeral.” Genetically the foetus is as much apart of the father as it is of the mother so why don’t they have equal rights. There is the other side of things, it is the woman who has to go through the pain of birth, so why should the decision of having an abortion be left to her partner.
People who are against abortion realise that contraception is necessary. The intra-uterine device doesn’t stop an egg from being fertilised it stops the egg implanting in the womb. The “morning after” Pill, taken in three days of having unprotected sex, also is aimed at preventing a fertilised egg implanting in the womb. So these forms of contraception could be thought as abortion. The egg has been fertilised but not allowed to settle in the womb. Many people argue that a woman can have a home pregnancy test on the day her period is due – that is within in two weeks of contraception. Many miscarriages occur naturally at this stage, without the woman being aware that she is pregnant. It is therefore no less wrong to abort the baby at this stage.
Carrying out abortions is part of everyday work of thousands of doctors and nurses all over the world. In many countries doctors promise to do everything they can to save a life: “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such advice; and in a like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.” Many doctors and nurses do not agree with carrying out abortion, and refuse to do so. In a survey of about 300 gynaecologists, 73 per cent believed that women should be allowed to choose to have an abortion or not. Although, three-quarters of gynaecologists surveyed wanted to reduce the time limit so there would be less late abortions. It is hard to believe that any woman can take the decision to abort her foetus lightly. One woman who took it badly said, “My sorrow was immeasurable, penetrating every fibre of my being. I was wracked with sobs for an hour. For 3 months after I plunged into emotional darkness.”
My own opinion of abortion is very varied. There are so many different reasons for abortions. Every woman who has had one will have had reasons. I am sure they wouldn’t have decided in a few minutes that they were going to abort their baby. They would have thought long and hard about what to do. I put myself in the position of someone else. If I got pregnant now would I really be able to keep it. I would, for one, have to stop school and miss out on the education I would need to bring up a child. I probably wouldn’t be able to cope with the emotional pressures and cope with the pain of giving birth. It all seems so easy before you see it through someone else’s eyes. Women don’t just have an abortion as a spur of the moment thing.
It is however a hard subject to be sure of an opinion. You can look on abortion as murder. Even if a woman is under age then isn’t it better to bring a life in to the world. The emotional pressure of abortion must be high knowing that you have stopped a baby being born. In a way I don’t understand why women abort their handicapped foetuses. It should be loved whatever. In this world today we are brought up to not have prejudices, so why should having a handicapped baby be different from having a normal baby. If a woman doesn’t want the baby then why not have it adopted at birth; at least it will be alive.
The dilemma of abortion is not one that can be overcome quickly. Each case is different; each woman has different needs, hopes and dreams. Who are we to judge one of the hardest decisions of her life? And who are we to say if it is right or wrong?
I believe that abortions should be available but that a woman should have a valid reason for aborting the baby. I don’t think a woman should be able to walk into a clinic and have an abortion but they should need the consent of 2 doctors as they do now.