Abortion: the termination of a pregnancy by artificial or chemical means

Abortion is ending the life of an unborn child or ‘foetus’ before it has had a chance to live.

Abortion used to be illegal in Britain; in some places it still is for example Ireland. But in most western countries the laws have changed. Since 1973 the law in the USA has said that a woman has the right to have her pregnancy ended in this way. She does not have to give any reason just that she wants it done.

In Britain abortion used to be a crime under the offences against the person acts of 1861, in 1967 the Liberal MP David steel introduced a Bill into the House of Commons, which became the abortion act of 1967. This act was amended in 1990 and applies to the whole of the United Kingdom except for Northern Ireland

The Abortion Act

The law in the United Kingdom states that abortion can be performed up to the end of the twenty forth week of pregnancy if two doctors agree that:

* To continue the pregnancy there would be risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman

* Or to continue pregnancy there would be risk of injury to the physical or mental health of any existing children of the pregnant woman

However the law allows an abortion at any stage of the pregnancy if doctors agree that:

* Continuing with the pregnancy would risk the life of the mother

* If they agree that abortion is necessary to prevent permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman

* If there is risk of the child being seriously handicapped

When does life begin?

A scientific view:

18 days after the conception, the baby’s heart begins to beat. At six weeks, Brain waves can be measured. At eight weeks the vital organs are functioning and fingerprints have formed. At nine weeks the unborn baby is able to feel pain, after the end of the second month the child has begun to look distinctly human.

By the time the baby is eleven weeks old he/she breathes (fluid) swallows, digests, sleeps, dreams, wakes, hears and feels pain babies born prematurely can survive outside the womb at 20- 25 weeks old.

Abortion is a moral issue, I am going to explore why it is a moral issue. A lot of people think that abortion is right in some circumstances e.g. if the woman was raped or the foetus is handicapped, but these only account for a small percent of abortions which are carried out. Other people believe that it is the woman’s right to choose to end her pregnancy as it is her life and her own body therefore her choice. People may argue that if abortion were not legal many women would have ‘back street abortions’ which are very dangerous operations by unqualified people, which could cause death.

Other people may argue that abortion is wrong and many people see it as a form of contraception and take advantage of it, they may not see it as ending the life of a child on purpose, they may say that there isn’t enough evidence to show that the unborn foetus doesn’t suffer during these operations, and that life begins at conception. People also may have religious beliefs about abortion people may believe that you shouldn’t take a life that God has given, as every life is created and loved by God.

From this section I can conclude that there are many different issues surrounding abortion; religious, legal and moral issues. Abortion is a religious issue because different denominations of Christianity have different opinions; this is because the bible it interpreted differently in different denominations. It is a legal issue due to the 1967 abortion reform act, which made abortion legal under the condition that two doctors agree on it. It is a moral issue because people disagree on whether abortion is right or wrong, these include whether the foetus is handicapped or the circumstances the child could be brought up into

I will now explain what Christian teaching may be used in a discussion about abortion.

Explain what Christian teachings may be used in a discussion about Abortion.

Christians use the Bible as a guidance of how to live their lives, It is very important to Christians as it teaches them about their faith and it contains the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. The bible has no specific teachings, therefore Christians need to interpret the teachings in relation to the moral issue of abortion, this is where different Christians present slightly different viewpoints. Christians also use the official teaching of the church (the doctrine) to help them with their Christian views.

In the New Testament (Corinthians 3:16,12) this is said;

‘Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, god will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple’

An Interpretation of this is that every person is Gods ‘temple’ if anyone kills a person God will punish them, as every person is holy to God every person should get the chance to live.

This could be used as an argument against abortion because it clearly states that a life god has created should not be taken by another person, because every person is holy to God.

In Genesis1: 26,27 this is written;

Then God said, “Let us make human kind in our image according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth.” So God created human kind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God made human kind in his own image He created male and females they have power over the animals of the earth

This would be used against abortion because its saying that every human is made in the image of God even a foetus in the womb is in the image of God it is a person. God created this person.

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalms 66:9)

God formed people in their mothers wombs, the baby in the womb is a person created by God

This would be used against abortion as it says that the foetus is a person, a person created by God.

In the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:13) it says ‘thou shalt not kill’

You should not murder another human being

This could be against abortion because people would argue that a foetus in the womb is a human being and abortion is killing the foetus.

Jeremiah 1:5 God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”

God knew this man before he was born, as he was forming him in his mother’s womb God gave him his personality,

This could be used as an argument against abortion because if the mother had an abortion the ‘foetal tissue’ she aborted would have been a real person; a mighty prophet of God, though she would never have known

Job 31:15 Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us within our mothers?

God made every one in the womb and formed them within their mothers therefore he is the father of every living being

This could be used against abortion it is clear that life begins when God creates it, not at some later point in time when it has grown to look like a newborn.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 this day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your children may live, and that you may love the Lord your god, listen to his voice and hold fast to him

God has given people life and death, you should choose to live life to the full and let your children live so they can grow up to love God. Life is a gift from God and only God should take it away.

I could not find any references in the Bible, which could be used for, argueing in favour of abortion but in a discussion people could argue that God made us with our own free will therefore a woman’s body is her body and she can do what she wants with it. But people could also argue against this, as it is another body growing inside her that will have its free will taken away from it.

Explain how Christians may respond to the question of Abortion:

Christians will have different opinions about abortion from either personal experience or because different Christian churches have different beliefs and as the bible can be interpreted in different ways.

Some Christians will find it hard to decide whether abortion is wrong or right, because it is a moral issue. It states in the Bible that you should not kill, but would God want this baby to live if it was going to cause suffering to the mother as God loves us all so much?

The Catholic Church is strongly against artificial contraception, it is also very strongly against abortion, mainly because it feels all human life is sacred even the unborn baby, it takes this viewpoint from the bible.

“Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception; abortion and infanticide are the most abominable of all crimes”[statement from the Roman Catholic Church]. This quotation clearly states the Catholic Church’s belief on abortion it shows that they believe that life is sacred, as in all branches of Christianity

“If you do make a mistake don’t destroy life. Because God says, I have called you by your name, I have carved you in the palm of my hand: you are mine” [Mother Teresa Roman Catholic nun] this shows Mother Teresa believed that even if you do make a mistake, and you know it was a mistake do not destroy the baby as God has already created this little person God knows it and loves it life should not be taken away it has been created for a reason.

The doctrine within the Catholic Church is that abortion is a mortal sin as life is a gift from God and only God should take life away

The Church of England believes abortion is wrong, but can be accepted in some circumstances as long as the mother knows she is making the right choice, they believe it is not a sin if it endangers the life of the mother:

“Although the foetus is to be specially respected and protected, nonetheless the life of the foetus is not absolutely sacrosanct if it endangers the life of the mother”[Church of England – Board of Social Responsibility report 1984]

This shows that the church considers the foetus as a life that should be protected but abortion can be accepted in the right circumstance, they also state that abortion may be acceptable if the child is going to be born with severe deformities or that the child has been conceived after rape or incest.

The doctrine throughout the Protestant churches state that there are circumstances where abortion may be undesirable but acceptable

Conclusion for this section

Christian churches believe all life is sacred even the foetus and that life should be protected as it is a gift from God, although the Roman Catholic church feels very strongly against abortion, the Protestant churches accept abortion in some circumstances for example if it endangers the life of the mother. This is because the churches interpret the Bible differently, and have slightly different doctrines. When a Christian is deciding their opinion on abortion they will take in to account of what teachings are in the Bible, what the official teaching says, their relationship with God and their personal experiences. Within Christianity there will be different responses to Abortion, As it is a Moral issue and people have had different experiences in their lives, the Bible is interpreted differently in the different branches of Christianity

“Abortion is never justified” Do you agree?

During this coursework I have looked at what abortion actually is and why people do it, I have looked at different viewpoints and what the Bible says about abortion, now I am going to look at different views in detail and state my opinion.

Some people agree that abortion is justified, They may say that it is a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body and people should not interfere if she wants an abortion it is her choice and there is nothing wrong with it, God made us with freewill to do what we want to do.

The foetus inside the mother is not yet a person it wont feel anything if it gets aborted,

Other people may agree that abortion is justified in the right circumstances for example, A mother went for her first ultra sound scan at the hospital knowing that she’s pregnant, the scan reveals that the baby has spina bifida (a nerve tube defect present at birth that results in a gap in the bone that surrounds the spinal cord) this may mean that the baby will be severely handicapped at birth and all its life, abortion may be better for the mother and the baby

A teenager got pregnant the first time she had sex and has no way of looking after the baby as she has to go to school, a baby would ruin her life, her childhood, she wants to go to university and get a career not be stuck at home with a child, she believes that her child will not have the right environment to grow up in and get the love and care that it needs.

Also if the birth endangers the life of the mother that would be justified because God would not want the woman to suffer, Christians who believe abortion can be justified would argue the fact that God gave us free will and that God would not want anyone to suffer whether it was the baby in the womb or a mother

Some people would say abortion is never justified, as it is a baby, a little person growing up inside the mothers womb it functions just like we do, God created this person God knows it from the inside, God loves it as he loves all life, life is sacred it is a gift from God and should only be taken away by God, this little person should be given the chance to live, Christians may use passages from the bible to back up their arguments against abortion,

People may argue that people take advantage of abortion and they think about it as a form of contraception not as taking an innocent life away.

My opinion:

I believe that abortion is wrong in most circumstances, The man and woman took the risk of getting pregnant and conceived they should not think getting an abortion will make it right, the baby that has been conceived is completely innocent and should be given the life that it has already started, it should not be taken away from it, but in some circumstances I think that abortion could be acceptable, e.g. The baby had been conceived after rape or incest, or that the child will be severely handicapped and would live a life of suffering, but in these circumstances you have got to think about the fact that saying aborting a child because it is handicapped is acceptable is like saying that handicapped people do not want to live, which is not true. I also think abortion may be acceptable in circumstances where the pregnancy risks the life of the Mother, but these circumstances account for very few abortions carried out, I believe that many people take advantage of abortion and do not think of it as ending the life of an innocent baby.