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Abortion in the United States has remained a controversial issue in the culture and politics of the US since 1900. Various laws illegalizing abortion were in place until 1973 when the Supreme Court legalized abortion after a case of Roe v. Wade (Joyce et al 804). Since then, individuals have taken personal positions concerning the legalization of abortion with two groups emerging. The two main groups in the United States are pro-choice and pro-life groups. While pro-choice advocates for legalized abortion, pro-life activists advocate for the illegalization of abortion with each group giving various reasons for their stand. Virtually all the reasons given are connected to ethical and moral considerations. Both sides have laid a solid argument to support their assumptions. This paper will explore the reasons why abortion should not be illegal in the United States.
The main reason in support of the illegalization of abortion is based on ethical and moral grounds. Abortion entails premature termination of pregnancy leading to the death of the unborn child. According to pro-life campaigners, abortion is equivalent to the killing of an innocent person, and that is morally wrong since life is freely given (Dabbagh 2). The assumption is that human life begins at conception and so a fetus is a human being with life which should not be taken away. A fetus has a unique genetic make -up making it a unique human being distinct from the mother, and so the mother has no right to decide on whether it should live or not. Deciding to abort means the mother is making a decision on behalf of the fetus on an essential matter concerning life. Abortion is a form of killing potential human beings who are likely to grow and become influential people in the society and so abortion deprives society of the service of such people. The fetus as a potential being has a future that is prematurely terminated. From conception, the fetus becomes a human being with a future just like anybody else in the world. Abortion is also known to cause pain, and it is morally wrong to cause pain and suffering to any person including the fetus. By the 18th week after conception, the fetus can feel pain (Derbyshire 909). All abortions done after 18th week hence causes pain and suffering to the fetus. Abortion is also thought to lower the society's respect for life. The assumption is that legalizing abortion is legalizing killing which may lower respect for life with a potential to result in increased murder cases, euthanasia and even genocides.
Despite the ethical arguments in support of the criminalization of abortion, it is clear that it is also unethical to decide for a pregnant woman on matters concerning their body. While it is true that the fetus has rights to live, the woman too has a right to their body, and since the fetus is in the woman's body, she should be allowed to decide on whether to terminate or keep the pregnancy. It will be even worse when a woman is forced to carry a pregnancy that is posing a health risk. In the United States, 3.3 % of subjects said they had an abortion because of risk to fetal health while 2.8 % cited risk to maternal health (Finer 113). In other cases, pregnancy may leave long-term effects and suffering to the woman (Thorp 6). Therefore, a woman should have the right to choose her own life over that of the unborn child, and it would be unethical to force her to keep the life of the fetus while it is causing a risk to her own life. In some cases, women prefer abortion if the pregnancy is due to a rape case. In the United States, at least 1.9% seeking abortions in health clinics are victims of rape (Perry at al 393). Women cite long-term psychological harm where the child reminds them of inappropriate acts that occurred in their life. It will not be unfair to expose such women to long-term suffering; instead, the victims should be allowed to terminate the pregnancy. The government should assist such people in procuring abortion since it would fall under their responsibility to help victims of rape cases to recover and heal the psychological harm. The society should also support rape victims to procure abortion instead of criticizing for something they did not wish to happen.
While some women choose to have an abortion due to the possible effects on their health, others are forced to have an abortion due to other life problems and abortion may be the only feasible solution. Economic difficulties are cited as one of the most common factors that push women to have an abortion. It will be morally wrong to force a woman to carry a pregnancy without considering what will happen after the birth. Most laws illegalizing abortion do not give way forward for women who might not be able to take care of their children after birth. Women should not be forced to give birth to children who will suffer since their mothers are not able to take care of them. Reasons such as poverty, relationship problem or lack of preparedness to bear a child are some of the reasons why a woman might not want to give birth. At least 73 % of women in the US said they would prefer abortion since they would not afford a baby and thought having a baby would significantly change their lives (Finer 112). A woman should be given the freedom on whether to bear a child at their current situation or not since they understand their circumstances better than anyone else. A woman should not be forced to give birth to a child if they feel that the child will face suffering. In some cases, the child may develop deformities while in the uterus. Such deformities may result in the physical or mental suffering of the child once the child is born. As a mother, the woman will share the suffering with the child since she might be forced to take care of the child for the rest of her life a factor that will significantly affect the mother's life in many negative ways.
In synopsis, it is evident that when there some reasons to illegalize abortion, the benefits of legalized abortion outweighs those given to criminalize abortion. Reasons such as the aspects of the right to life of fetus, future, no pain and suffering are essential to the unborn child, but there are also ethical considerations for the mother. A mother has ethical rights to their bodies. They can decide whether to carry the pregnancy or not especially when the pregnancy poses a risk to their health. They should also be given the right to terminate the pregnancy if they feel that the child will bring more suffering to their lives due to factors such as poverty among other economic aspects.
Dabbagh, Soroush. "Fetus as Human Being: Where Is the Cut-off Point?" Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, vol. 2009, no.2, 2009, pp. 2 -7.
Derbyshire, Stuart. "Can Fetuses Feel Pain?"British Medical Journal, vol. 332, no. 7546, 2006, pp. 909-912.
Finer, Lawrence. Frohwirth, Lori, Dauphinee, Lindsay, Singh, Susheela, and Moore, Ann. "Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives" Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, vol. 37, no.3, pp.110-8
Joyce, Ted, Ruoding Tan, and Yuxiu, Zhang. "Abortion Before & After Roe." Journal of health economics, vol. 32, no.5, 2013, pp. 804-815.
Perry, R, Zimmerman, L, Al-Saden, I, Fatima, A, Cowett, A, and Patel, A. "Prevalence of rape-related pregnancy as an indication for abortion at two urban family planning clinics." Contraception, vol.91, no. 5, 2015, pp. 393-7.
Thorp, John. "Public Health Impact of Legal Termination of Pregnancy in the US: 40 Years Later". Hindawi Publishing Corporation Scientica, Vol. 2012, pp. 1-16.
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