The definition of abortion

The definition of abortion is the Termination of pregnancy and expulsion of an embryo or of a fetus that is incapable of survival.

The UK’s abortion law

Abortion is legal in the UK up to the 24th week of pregnancy. However, if there is a substantial risk to the woman’s life or if there are foetal abnormalities there is no time limit.

To comply with the 1967 Abortion Act, two doctors must give their consent, stating that to continue with the pregnancy would present a risk to the physical or mental health of the woman or her existing children.

However, the 1967 Act does not extend to Northern Ireland, where abortion is still illegal

My opinions of reasons for abortion

I think the reasons for a woman to have an abortion should be determined by the situation that they are in e.g. if they were raped, I think that this reason would be acceptable. Here are some more reasons for abortion below:

* Rape

* If the unborn baby has a complication/illness

* If the mother has a serious illness themselves

* Lifestyle

* Financial

* Large family

* Age

* Capability as a mother.

If the woman that chose to have unprotected sex and she got pregnant, then this would be a non-valid reason for abortion because the woman knew what she was doing and did not think of the consequences.

Organisation that favour and are against abortion

SPUC

SPUC is part of the UK Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. SPUC was formed in 1966 in response to the campaign for the decriminalisation of abortion under the Abortion Act of 1967. SPUC recognised that the Abortion Act would be a step onto the slippery slope leading to abortion on demand and the decline in respect for all human life and dignity. SPUC is principally a parliamentary pressure group. However, we also carry out extensive educational work, as we believe that only through education can we ever hope to change the attitudes of society and the laws by which it is governed.

SPUC’s founding principle is one of respect for all human life and as a result we have seen our activities expand to include, not only abortion, but also embryo experimentation, human cloning and euthanasia.

SPUC recognises too that mothers and fathers, as well as babies, are victims of abortion and so our daughter organisation British Victims of Abortion (BVA) provides counselling for women and men suffering from Post-Abortion Trauma as well as crisis pregnancy counselling. SPUC also has close links with other pro-life and crisis pregnancy organisations.

All Parliamentary Pro Choice Group

Launched on the same day as the Voice for Choice campaign at a meeting in the House of Lords was a cross-party group of MPs and Peers, who agreed to spearhead a campaign to improve women’s access to abortion by parliamentary means. The All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Choice Group is chaired by Baroness Gould, former Labour Director of Organisation, before being made a life peer in 1993. By the end of the year the group had 82 members – 64 MPs and 18 Peers. It is serviced by the Pro-Choice Alliance co-ordinator Jane Roe who is also ALRA’s Campaign Manager. Committee or senior staff of six PCA organisations including ALRA act as advisers to the parliamentary group and attend all meetings.

Much of the work of both groups focussed on the Private Members’ Bill ballot on 3 December. We hoped to persuade an MP who drew a high place to take a Bill for abortion law reform, but although several promised to seriously consider such a measure, none of the lucky ones was brave enough to agree.

PROJECTS:

Running alongside its parliamentary work, ALRA has undertaken two major projects on service provision.

IMPROVING NHS ABORTION SERVICES

As a result of our major report published in January 1997 and subsequent project which targeted areas with the lowest level of NHS abortion provision, ALRA obtained funding for a larger follow-up project beginning in September 1998. So far this work has taken a wider focus on NHS abortion services, contacting all health authorities with a below average proportion of NHS funded abortion. Examples of exceptionally good services from around the country are also being looked at so they may be presented as models of good practice for health authorities.

Christian Views on Abortion

‘You shall not murder’ (Exodus 20:13 The Holy Bible New International Version)

Within the Christian Church there is generally a keen desire to follow and apply the teachings of the Bible. However this in not easy and a number of alternative readings of Scripture have lead to a variety of viewpoints concerning the moral implications of abortion. Generally the Church is united in its condemnation of abortion. Most Christians believe abortion violates the sixth command which prohibits murderous acts. However there is a keen debate concerning the moment a human embryo/foetus becomes fully human (i.e. when, according to Christian teaching, it has both body and soul). The Catholic Church teaches that ensoulment takes place at the moment of conception and this has been a key reason for their refusal to condone abortion (although Thomas Aquinas taught that the soul of girls was implanted by God at 90 days and the soul of boys at 40 days). Another key factor is Natural Law which Catholics believe shows that the natural consequence of the woman becoming pregnant is to give birth.

‘By the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors, and in communion with the bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral.’ (Papal Encyclical 1995)

The Protestant Church is reluctance to take such a hard line as Catholics do in the abortion debate. It accepts that there are certain situations when abortion is an unavoidable consequence of deciding between the ‘lesser of two evils’ (E.g. Accepting that a women who becomes pregnant after being raped might want an abortion). Thus they generally advocate a form of Situation Ethics.

‘The Church believes the demand for abortions is unacceptably high. It stresses that abortion should happen as early in the pregnancy as possible and only after serious moral reflection. Its view on late terminations (after 24 weeks) of handicapped foetuses is that they should only be given if the baby is likely to die from its deformities soon after birth.’ (The Church of England)

Both the Catholic and the Protestant Churches accept abortion when the life of the mother is in danger as a result of her being pregnant.

There are some Christians who believe the Bible says nothing about abortions. In one sense this is true. There is no direct teaching that says ‘You shall/shall not allow a woman to have an abortion’ despite the fact that abortions did happen in biblical times (there was a high infant mortality rate). Thus the case for/and against abortion is generally a cumulative one.

Some Christians arguments against abortion

‘Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness”… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’ (Genesis 1:26-27 The Holy Bible New International Version – NIV)

Christians who seek to argue against abortion on the basis of Scripture (the Bible) use a number of verses that seem to teach that God knows and plans the life of a person before they are born. In the Psalms David wrote:

‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you that I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be’ (Psalm 139:13-16 NIV)

The Prophet Jeremiah spoke similar words: ‘The Word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you’ (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV). Even Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that God had a plan for the baby (Jesus) she was going to have (‘He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1:32 NIV)) and John ‘lept in the womb’ when Mary came to visit Elizabeth (his mother – Luke 1:41). From this it is argued that God knows each human and has a plan for each of us that is shaped and formed in the mind of God even before we are born. Human life begins at conception so abortion is wrong.

The strongest biblical evidence used against abortion is the prohibition to commit murder (Exodus 20:13). Christians against abortion believe the embryo/foetus is human and should be give full human rights. Anyone taking away its life is committing a grievous act of disobedience against God (they are committing murder) and are putting themselves on a level with God who alone gives life and takes it away.

‘… because he himself gives all [people] life and breath and everything else’ (Acts 17:25 NIV)

‘… when you take away their breath they die and return to the dust’ (Psalm 10:29 NIV)

‘… and the dust returns to the ground it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it’ (Ecclesiastes 12:7 NIV)

‘You shall not kill by abortion the fruit of the womb and you shall not murder the infant already born’ (The Didache – early Christian manual).

‘When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers… what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour’ (Psalm 8:3-5 NIV)

Some Christian arguments for the right to choice

Christians who argue a pro-choice position do so by first showing that the Bible does not specifically teach anything about abortion. They also claim that the verses those advocating a pro-life position use to argue against abortion are merely specific references to individual people and situations (E.g. King David, the prophet Jeremiah and Jesus). They are specific exhortations rather than general teachings concerning the birth process for all people. Furthermore, pro-lifers are accused of taking biblical poem (or songs) too literally. This is a problem particularly associated with taking verses out-of-context with the aim of proving a theological point (proof-texting).

The problem with seeking proof-texts to argue against abortion is particularly acute when the command ‘Do not murder’ is used to support an anti-abortion stance. Difficulties arise when we see that in certain instances God actually commanded the Israelites to kill their enemies and take possession of their land (E.g the Canaanites). Thus ‘Do not murder’ seems to be a relative command (relative to the situation – Situation Ethics?).

There is one passage in the Bible that seems to touch specifically on the issue of abortion. In Exodus 21:22-25 we read:

‘If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.’ (NIV).

The interesting point here is that it is only if the woman dies from her injuries that murder is deemed to have taken place. The premature birth (abortion) of the baby is not condemned by the maxim ‘Do not murder’ given a few moments earlier (of course one could argue that the phrase, ‘she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury’ means the baby survived).

One criticism labeled against the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion (and contraception) is that it encourages an irresponsible attitude towards having children and does not take in to account the ability of women (and men) to fully care for them. Quality of life is important for both the future child as well as the parent(s). It should also be noted that Christians who argue in favour of the woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy do so with a heavy heart. They, along with the women involved, do not take abortion lightly.

‘… most women who have an abortion have just made the most difficult decision of their life. No one thinks abortion is a wonderful thing. No one tries to get pregnant just so they can terminate it.’ (Taken from ‘Why Abortion is Moral’)

My opions about abortion

I think that abortion should be considered in Cretan circumstances steadied on the first page but if the “people” agree to have sexual intercourse then they should be prepared to face any consequences to their actions. The father should not act in shock when the mother tells him she is pregnant because they did not consider the consequences when the had sexual intercourse. In some cases it would be best for the child if the father was not known because of reasons that might be personal but this may not be an excuse to not have the child and get an abortion.

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