Abortion is one of the most widely discussed issues particularly its moral and legal status. Two schools of thought have emerged in the process the pro-choice movement, which argues that every person (woman in this case) has a right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy or to see it through and the pro-life movement, which believes that life begins at conception and therefore abortion is murder and should not be performed unless it is to save a life. Over time, each group has used various means and approaches in seeking to influence the opinion of the public and hence attain moral and legal support for the position held. This research paper will look at abortion from a historical context before analyzing the arguments fronted for and against abortion. The paper concludes by writing a critique of both sides of the moral issue.

Historical Background of Abortion
For several centuries in different cultures, records are available confirming that women had been helping others procure abortions. Until late in the 18th century, women healers in the United States and Western European countries provided abortion services and trained apprentices to do the same. There were no anti-abortion laws then in fact, the first laws illegalizing abortion came up in Britain in 1803. The various American states started passing anti-abortion laws and by the year1890, abortion was illegal in almost all of America except when it was necessary to save the life of the mother. However, the tradition and debate surrounding a womans to procure an abortion remained rooted in the American society. Abortions continued to be performed with the support of the public, and even juries refused to convict abortionists brought before them.

The passage of laws criminalizing abortion was based on several reasons. The humanitarian reform movement was gaining momentum and noting that abortion at the time was a very dangerous procedure performed using crude instruments under unhygienic conditions with no antiseptics, the rates of abortion-related mortalities were very high making reformists start advocating for the criminalization of abortion. There was also a desire by antifeminists to restrict women to their traditional child-bearing role. Thirdly, midwives who offered abortion services to women were becoming a threat to the affluence of trained medical doctors (Morris). Doctors wanted to consolidate their grip on the medical profession and therefore were very vocal in pushing for the illegalization of abortion. Additionally, declining birth rates among white people led to the emergence of race suicide fears the government feared that white people would become extinct and therefore illegalized abortion to encourage increased reproduction among whites (Morris). Finally, philosophical ideals were evolving, and abortion was increasingly being viewed as a deprivation of the right to life and therefore immoral.

Arguments against Abortion
The pro-life movement has outlined very many points to support its argument that abortion is immoral and should therefore be illegal. The main argument is that life begins at conception thus abortion is murder as it is an act of taking away human life (Minnesota Family Institute). Abortion is, according to pro-life philosophy, a direct violation of the mutually accepted idea of the sanctity of the human life. Since no civilized society permits any member to intentionally take away or harm the life of another and then getting away from it, abortion should not be treated differently.

The pro-life movement has argued based on medical research that abortion increases a womans risk of getting ectopic pregnancies and the chance of having miscarriages and pelvic inflammatory disease (Colker 67). Based on these facts, they point out that since it results to medical complications later in life, the process reduces the quality of life and should thus be discouraged.

In some cases, a woman gets pregnant as a result on non-consensual sexual intercourse like in rape and incest. Proponents of abortion argue that allowing a child conceived under such circumstances to live will be a constant source of emotional pain to the mother since the child will be an unwanted one. Under such circumstances, the mother should be allowed to abort. However, the pro-life group argues that the unborn child is innocent it is the perpetrator of sex crimes who should be punished.

The pro-life movement is against the use of abortion as a form of contraceptive. It is their stand that women who want to maintain a complete control of should exercise this control in avoiding unwanted pregnancies either by using acceptable and responsible contraception or even by abstaining from sex. By legalizing abortion, the state allows the use of public funds to fund abortion procedures. A significant proportion of this public is opposed to abortion, and using peoples money in ways they think is not right is morally wrong.

The other point the pro-life movement has fronted in its arguments is that abortion causes very severe psychological pain and depressive illnesses on the part of those who procure and avail it. In any case, many of the would-be mothers are young women who lack sufficient knowledge of life and therefore live to regret their actions later in life.

Arguments for Abortion
Pro-choice philosophy has it that abortion usually takes place in the first trimester when the fetus cannot live independently, therefore is not a distinct life-form. Personhood is also distinct from human life and since non-used vitro fertilized eggs are usually thrown away, it does not termed as murder and the case should be the same for abortion.

Pro-life movement argues that advances in medical technology have made it safe to perform abortions. Medical abortions have a risk of below 0.5 percent of resulting to serious complications like the inability to conceive or give birth. Women made pregnant by violent acts like rape are psychologically troubled, and forcing them to still have the baby only worsens the situation.

The pro-choice group argues that teenage pregnancies jeopardize the future of the girls concerned since they limit the chances of their pursuing their education. Teenagers also have a lower capacity of receiving sufficient pre-natal care and need assistance to raise their children. They should thus be allowed to have abortions to safeguard their future and welfare.

Both the pro-life and pro-choice movements base their arguments as an opposite of the other. It is a very hard to reject the pro-life main argument that abortion is like murder without rejecting other established moral ideals, for example that infanticide is wrong. However, if death of a zygote is murder then the scale would be above genocide since millions of zygotes are lost every day. It is not an anomaly that zygotes or miscarriages are not mourned the way living persons are mourned zygotes or pregnancies during the first trimester (in which over 90 percent of all abortions are procured) cannot be classified as personhoods. It then should be the choice of the mother whether to abort or carry on with a pregnancy, but with reasons in any case.


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