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The Ethics Of Abortion
Abortion is a very controversial subject
that has been continually argued over for the past few years and probably
many years to come. The main controversy is should abortion be legalized?
First before we get into the many sides of abortion we must first define
abortion. Abortion is the destruction of the fetus or unborn child while
the child is still in the mothers womb. This can be done by almost anyone
from the mother herself to back alley abortions and even to abortions by
clinics set up especially for this purpose. There are two sides to this
abortion topic the PRO-LIFE which is those who are against abortion altogether
and the PRO- CHOICE or those who believe it is the womans right to choose
if she wants to have an abortion. These two groups offer different solutions
to problem. The pro-life solution is to have the child and basically live
with it. They believe abortion is not an answer. The pro-choice solution
is abortion because of reasons they feel are appropriate. Although abortion
is morally and ethically wrong should it be legal for victims of rape or
incest who have no other alternative?
There is no real answer to this controversy,
there are two sides to it though which have been arguing for many years
over the subject. The first is the pro-life group. This group does not
believe in the abortion factor. To understand where the pro-life stands
we must first understand its beliefs and reasons for its beliefs. Then
we can discuss what their solution to the abortion topic is.
Pro-life believes that rape and incest
are very emotional topics. “They often elicit throughout the population
feelings of revulsion; people draw back from the issue of rape and incest.
People don’t know how to handle a person who is in that much pain. There
is no quick fix. That is why it is difficult for even pro-life people to
come to grips with the argument over abortion in cases of rape and incest.”
Some of those who are pro-life will allow
abortion in these cases because they don’t know what else they can do for
the victim and except it as a rare case. But it is known that allowing
abortion in these cases usually does not help the victim, instead it only
worsens the problem because the victims needs are not being met.
But what the facts suggest is that only
a minority of rape and incest victims actually choose abortion. This is
where pro-life has its biggest problem. Pro-life states that “Abortion
is not usually chosen as the immediate solution for rape and incest victims
but that is the prevailing belief of the general population. A woman has
been raped and made pregnant: “Oh, she’s got to have an abortion.” No one
has studied the rape and incest victims needs; abortion is presumed to
fill her needs.”
Various studies and research indicate that
rape and incest victims fall into a high-risk category of abortion. But
what happens after a victim has an abortion? Jackie Baker a victim states:
“I soon discovered that the aftermath of my abortion continued a long time
after the memory of my rape had faded. I felt empty and horrible. Nobody
told me about the emptiness and pain I would feel deep within causing nightmares
and deep depressions. They all told me that after the abortion I could
continue with my life as if nothing ever happened.” (Reardon 21- 22) This
is the story we hear from a lot of aborted women. Today in our society
it is believed by most people that it is the womans fault just as much
as the mans fault, if not more. many people think women are responsible
for contributing to the rape itself. Then the rape victims feel self-blame
and guilt. And even then a rape or incest victims family members or close
friends may reinforce these negative feelings. Or they drop the problem
because they don’t know how to talk about it.
We even see the same thing in the abortion
experience. When a person becomes pregnant because of rape or incest there
is a permanent symbol of the rape, at least until it is aborted. Women
who have had abortions fear being rejected by God and loved ones. It is
a very traumatic experience which takes time. The fact is that you are
really telling your loved ones of a death in the family.
Opinion polls have shown for years that
women are more against abortion than men are. The women led the opposition
of abortion. “In 1983 a Los Angelos Times poll found that only 47% of women
(compared with 51% of men) favored the general availability of abortion.”
(Pro Life Feminism: Pro-Woman, Pro-Life 6) So what is this telling us?
The facts are very clear men prefer abortion over women by a large percent.
And most women do not agree with abortion. So why does it still exist today?
What pro-life feels is really happening
is that in our society today abortion is becoming the solution to carelessness.
Abortion does nothing to help the victims rape, and that is the problem
they are trying to address in the first place. Instead abortion encourages
the victim to vent their anger out on others.
Pro-life also believes that child birth
on the other hand can be a victory. For those victims who chose childbirth
over abortion it can be a triumph. It can state that the victim is not
going to let rape destroy her life. When the needs of pregnant victims
is closely examined it can be shown that abortion is not the answer and
is in fact only worsening the problem. (Reardon 21-22)
But the worst strain abortion has on the
victim is mental strain. Many victims become confused and overwhelmed by
feelings they thought they would never have, and don’t know what to do.
After having an abortion victims thought they had solved the problem but
in fact they had really just started a whole new one. Many victims began
thinking there was something wrong with them and began to doubt themselves
in situations that they would normally be sure of themselves. Others plunge
into deep depressions which they don’t come out of for weeks at end. This
is one of the worst side effects of having an abortion and most women don’t
realize it will happen to them because they are too busy trying to correct
the immediate problem..
Pro-life persons don’t have any reason
to be ashamed to defend pro-life view in the case of rape and incest. They
feel the ones who should be ashamed are the pro-abortionists who have been
exploiting the problems of the victims.
Pro-choice has a different view to this
whole abortion controversy. Pro-choice believes that it is the persons
right to have an abortion if they want to and that no one should interfere
with that right. Pro-choice has many reasons for feeling this way. First
lets talk about who has abortions and why they have abortions. There are
1.6 million abortions in the United States every year, there is no real
special class of people who have abortions.
Why does pro-choice feel that abortion
is all right? Well pro-choice believes that the answer is what the woman
believes. The most common reason for abortions is when contraception fails.
What is a person suppose to do when the birth control method fails? “The
fact is that contraceptive failure led to 1.6 to 2 million of the 3.3 million
unwanted pregnancies in the United States in 1987. These pregnancies account
for about half of the 1.5 million abortions performed every year.” Besides
these reasons for abortion women also give researchers other reasons for
getting an abortion.
In 1987 a survey of 1,900 women at 30 abortion
facilities were asked, why do women have abortions? The women could give
as many reasons as they wanted, and most of the women responded with one
or more of these top six reasons:
1. Concerned about how having a baby could
change her life, 92 percent.
2. Not mature enough or too young to have
a child, 81 percent.
3. Can’t afford baby now, 73 percent.
4. Doesn’t want others to know she had
sex or is pregnant, 42 percent.
5. Has relationship problems and doesn’t
want to be a single parent, 37 percent.
6. Unready for responsibility, 33 percent.
There have been many studies done on smaller
groups that expressed the exact same reasons for having an abortion. Older
women were more likely to say that their families were complete while younger
women said that a baby would interfere with education, career, and personal
freedom. At any age women say they have too many responsibilities and not
enough money to take care of a baby.
The reasons for which the public is approving
of abortions is not always the reason of the person who wants to have an
abortion. Women do not have abortions because of rape, incest, deformed
fetuses, or because their physical life is in danger. But these are the
best reasons accepted by the public. Being poor, too young, unmarried,
and not wanting a baby are the most unpopular reasons for having an abortion
and are looked down upon by the public. Pro-choice feels the main reason
for abortions is because contraception failed and they didn’t want to have
a baby at the time.
What are some of the benefits to having
an abortion. Well the most obvious one is the abortion itself. First of
all pro-choice wants to make it clear where they stand. They believe in
first time abortions. This is usually because of contraceptive reasons
or maturity, but where they draw the line is at third or fourth time abortions.
This is because although they think abortion should be legal they believe
that is a little extreme and may be a solution to a bad habit.
“But the big benefits of having an abortion
can be seen right away is relief. The feeling most women have after having
an abortion is relief. A 44-year-old psychologist with three children had
an illegal abortion at 18 and a legal abortion at 28. Both times she primarily
felt relieved for herself and all the family members for whom she was responsible.”
“Another example is a newly married 27-year-old elementary school teacher
had two abortions at age 18 and 21. She felt the same relief as the psychologist.”
There have been many studies that researched what the primary reaction
to having an abortion was. One study done by Kaiser Permanent in northern
California asked women subscribers how they felt about their abortions.
The most common answer was relief.
Abortion also leads to safer contraception.
After a person has to go through an abortion because of a failure in contraception
it is found that from then on the couple is much more cautious about safe-sex.
It is found that almost all of the 742 low-income women who received abortions
in 1970-1971 at the State University Hospital in Syracuse, New York, intended
to use contraception in the future, an attitude that was even stronger
after their abortions. Perhaps the abortion is actually a lesson in life.
Another positive impact is maturity. How
might a person mature because of their abortion experience. Well the most
obvious example of maturity is after an abortion the aborted person usually
changes their bad habits. This could be anything from safe-sex to everyday
things like listening to others. This may not have been the case before
the abortion. When people were asked how they felt about themselves after
the abortion many of them responded by saying they felt more mature. It
caused them to reevaluate their behavior, their lives and their future.
Others felt they were freer and stronger.
“Two benefactors to having an abortion
is increased self-image, self-esteem, and increased psychological health.”
It is said that an abortion usually changes a womans uncertain self-image
into a good self-image. The average woman gets back the self before she
got pregnant and sometimes a little more. It is also said that it can increase
your psychological health. Can this really be? “Pro-choice states that
a woman is damaged by abortion, but pro- choice women state that is not
so and it actually benefited them.”
Pro-Choice also believes that it is the
moral right for a person to be able to control their own body whether it
is having a baby or destroying it. They feel it is the womans right to
be able to do what she wants with herself and what she has created. Pro-Choice
also argues that at the stage where abortion is done the fetus is not really
a human being therefore it is like you are not destroying anything. It
is merely biological and really does not exist until further stages.
This is the reasons why pro-choice is arguing
for the legalization of abortion. They feel that the increase in more mature
women after abortion, safer-sex, increased mental health, and increased
self-esteem and self-image are good enough reasons for legalizing abortion.
After researching about abortion the solution
that I find best fit to the abortion controversy is that although abortion
is morally and ethically wrong there is no real alternatives for those
who are victims of rape or incest. That is why the best solution to this
controversy is to legalize abortion for those who are victims of these
Although pro-life and victims of rape and
incest state that abortion adds to the pain of these crimes there is no
other real solution. Most victims would agree that it would be better to
suffer through the pain of abortion than to have to live with a deformed
child or even worse a child that is not really your own as a product of
rape or incest. Victims of these crimes also report feeling dirty, guilty,
sexually violated, etc… But is that as bad as having to be constantly
reminded of the traumatic experience you went through everyday you see
your child? Your child is a victim too!
But the most obvious reason is the fact
that a victim of rape or incest was violated against her will. She did
not ask for it, and does not deserve it. She should not then have to deal
with the child if she does not want to because it may lead to further complications
for the victim and child. By further complications I mean mentally, physically,
and emotionally. Many victims often go through long periods of depression
when they are forced to keep the child because it often stirs unwanted
memories. This is why abortion should be allowed or legal for those unfortunate
few who have no other choice but to have an abortion or live with this
Abortion on the other hand should not be
legal for all. When a person chooses to have sex she is taking a chance.
This she does of her own free will, and she has control over what she is
doing. This is the total opposite of the rape victim. If a person decides
to have sex whether it is safe or not, what happens after that is her responsibility
as well as his. And if you are going to chose to participate in this risky
and unsafe practice then you must be ready to pay the consequences.
I also believe that a fetus is still a
child contradictory to the beliefs of the Pro-Choice. I think that when
two people create something like a child, even if it is as small as a fetus
it should still be considered a child because it is a living breathing
organism made by the two people. I think that even a fetus has rights to
a good life, love and happiness no matter how small it is and no one should
be able to take that away from him.
Therefore my solution to the abortion problem
is it should be legal for only those who are victims of rape or incest
if they so chose to have an abortion. But should be illegal for those who
are not victims because they chose to do what they did and they must deal
with what they have created.