Abortion – the debate rages on

Abortion is the ending of the life of a fetus much before it had a chance to experience the world. It may be a medical termination of pregnancy, where the indication for termination may be medical in nature, or otherwise, where it is done for reasons other than medical reasons such as feticide due to sex determination, which of course in not only illegal but also unethical and immoral in nature, and deserves all the degrees of condemnation. We live in a world which is built on the idea of freedom, freedom of choice and freedom of expression, yet we are not free.

The oppositions of society create restraints for women seeking abortions. Abortion has been an “element of human life for centuries” (wikipedia. com). The roots of abortion lie way back in history. Long time back, the only ways to obtain abortion was to “poison” the fetus, with agents which would only kill the fetus, but not harm the mother. Physical violence on the mother has also been a part of the infamous history, where the abdomen of the mother was targeted to harm the fetus.

But as is quiet evident, these, though achieved the purpose of feticide, also had a potential to kill the mother, and with this view, the poplar way was to kill the infant as it was born, rather than when it was in womb of the mother (wikipedia. org) More than one hundred and forty million abortions are done yearly (nrlc. org), and that number only increases as more and more countries legalize this brutal destroying of innocent children who could be successful world leaders. This raises the question of sanctity of life. Is life governed by us or by God? If we are to decide who lives or who does not, what are the deciding factors?

Various ethical, moral , legal and emotional aspects surround the basic question related to sanctity of abortion. Therefore any such controversial issue is bound to be lookefsaaraujo@hotmail. com upon with different viewpoints. For the sake of discussion there are broadly 2 groups of thought – the “pro life” and “pro choice”. The group harping on prochoice give the full free freedom of decision to the woman who is undergoing motherhood, and thus in actual terms she has a choice, albeit after full information, to decide whether she wants abortion or not.

Thus according to them, no one has a right to decide for that woman, as long as she is mentally in a condition to make a decision, which can be deemed as being right in consideration of her social, educational, mental, and physical makeup. These people do not believe that the fetus, while in-utero has life, and is totally dependant on its mother for survival, and is thus akin to being parasitic on the mother, of coarse without harming the mother. But again, it is wrong to think that the prochoice group ratifies abortion, on the contrary, they are not anti-life.

It is important to understand their philosophy, that being, that one must understand the implications of pregnancy and abortion, and be vested with a certain degree of flexibility on this matter The contrary view is that of the prolife group, whose basic tenet is that life begins as soon the fertilization happens, and that the fetus is very much alive , as soon as it is formed; therefore these people consider abortion as being an equivalent of murder. It is wrong to condemn any one thought, as both have some elements of correctness and wrongness in them.

The following paragraphs will deal first with some medical aspects of abortion and later on the dilemma will be dwelled upon Medically speaking, medical termination of pregnancy is safe only until the first 12-14 weeks of pregnancy. After this period the fetus is too large to be safely aborted, and in fact a labor has to be induced to expel the fetus. Various techniques to abort the fetus, like suction & evacuation, dilation & curettage, use of uterine stimulants are used to achieve abortion in a safe manner (nrlc.

org, wikipedia. org). Such an act is performed under safe hospital conditions, after a strict review of the cases on an individual basis with the consent of more than one doctor present, to prevent any later medico-legal aspects Let us now focus on the debate. The first and the foremost question is that – is the fetus an human being, and therefore is it legal to perform abortion? How safe is the process of abortion both in terms of physical and mental rehabilitation to the mother?

So when would or should we consider a fetus or an embryo as alive, for we simply cannot decide on the legal tangle of the issue, if we cannot come to a decision on this question, that is we cannot murder anything which in one’s view is not alive! As this issue is fought by on an individual level alone, it is justifiable to consider the prevailing situation of the pregnancy as well one’s belief to what a fetus really is. Thus the question of whether a fetus is a human being. Of course, it is. So what if it is living in the womb of the mother.

Each fetus is as alive as any of us. How can anything which is not alive, move, breathe, react, and even feel pain. Thus it is extremely non-scientific of us to even think that the fetus is not alive. The morality of the ownership of the life of the fetus is another issue. Can a thing which is totally dependant on another life for its sustainment, can it lay a claim to independent life and therefore a right to its own life. Is it not right, that actually the fetus is nothing but a part of the mother, till it is expelled out?

No book can ever venture to answer this question, it is purely something that a individual ahs to decide based on his educational, social and moral background. What is the difference between an “unplanned” and an “uncontrolled” pregnancy? Any number of hospital and clinics today will perform abortion without any thought to this debate. They consider that the woman is the choice maker, the ethical debate is not the clinic’s but the woman’s. An unplanned pregnancy is when there was never a plan to bring up a child, but this was an accident in the course of youthful exuberance, or sexual ecstacy, maybe it was just contraceptive failure.

An uncontrolled pregnancy is a more difficult situation. Here there are many other factors, social, and moral that come into play in deciding the course of the pregnancy. A person who is thought to be some sort of an expert on legal rights of the fetus, Bonnie Steinbock (Bonnie Steinbock – Wikipedia. org), says, “Conception is the joining of the male and female sex cells which have twenty-three chromosomes each. ” The individual distinct characters of the person are determined at the time of conception. Thus the genetic make up now is fixed.

And the zygote has the capability to replace parts and add cells to it, while developing its organs, in fact starting cardiac activity at the age of 3 weeks. So it is alive!. But all this takes place much before the mother even realizes that she is carrying a baby inside her. And this feeds the thought of the group that believes that the life of the fetus is just an extension of that of the mother, until and only till when it is born. Are we guilty of discrimination against the women who is pregnant if we do not allow her the right to abortion.

She has the right to live and right ot so many other things in life, so why not abortion? It is so evident that there are a plethora of reasons that a woman may want to choose the execution of the right to abortion. It may be quiet simply failure of the contraceptive, she was using. Then maybe the old social evil of rape. Can pregnancy be accepted if it arose out of rape. These men who do such indescribable activities can only be looked upon with shame. Thus at least pregnancies arising out of such activities should be legalized.

Further child birth has a great social significance for the woman, who may be at the stage of education or at a critical position of job in her life, where she just cannot afford to take out time, which is required to rear the child. It could be a blow to a potentially successful career. Can we allow a pregnancy to dictate the professional and social life of anybody? Such a situation will put the women at significant social disadvantage. What about poor women who cannot bear the cost of rearing, and are accidently in a position of pregnancy?

We are talking about a much larger issue here than simply that of an individual. What we are talking about is a child, who will have to face the society and the society has to take care of him, but this child was never allowed to be brought up to face the very society, it must now compete with. Is this not an embarrassment for the mother also, that she was not a good mother, and something which she knows she could have prevented, by the act of abortion, with that simple act being denied by the ‘pro-lifers’.

A further critical situation is that some of these women, now turn to illegal and ‘underground’ ways to complete abortion, instead of being forced to kept the baby. Is this safe?. Now not only are we subjecting the poor mother to loss the fetus, but now there is also a potential threat to life of the mother. She may get infected, in fact a situation may arise, that she may not become a mother at all now following some accident that may occur in the act of ‘illegal abortion’. Such horrible laws would now force unprepared mothers into giving birth to undesirable children.

And what about the children who were forced to come into this world. Are we also being forced in to a debate on a topic whereas maybe the real issue is something different. Have we given a thought that maybe if we focus on the concept of birth control, we would not need to debate on abortion at all. Is it possible that if we focus on the issue of birth control more aggressively, then the frequency of abortions would come down to much lower levels. Which means that with greater information and subsequent use of birth control measures, we would see ‘accidental’ and ‘incidental’ pregnancies decreasing.

The extremely confusing scenario of information today the teenagers are getting from peers, media and their own parents, is not helping much at all. We need to focus here on this aspect. A good education here on this issue will solve a lot of problems. Let me summarise by saying that abortion must be legal because women should not have to sacrifice their lives at the hand of a failed contraceptive or a terrible rape. Women should not be forced to submit themselves to a life of hardships because of an unwanted pregnancy. To do so would be discrimination.

But lets stress on sex education, prevention of promiscuity and unsafe sex, introduce an environment of healthy relationships, and on being a good society. No one is anti life, but let’s promote healthy life. Lets focus on issues of pregnancy prevention, we need a coordinated efforts at media information on birth control. We need to educate people on various issues of benefits and problems of abortion. If a fetus is congenitally malformed, it is not right to bring him into the world at the mercy of everyone, while it is wrong to terminate a fetus, because it is a girl child.

Lets all promote a healthy thought process and solve this debate while being practical and humane at the same time. Referances 1 History of abortion – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Accessed from <en. wikipedia. org/wiki/History_of_abortion> on 3rd Apr 2008 2 Abortion in the United States. Accessed from <www. nrlc. org/abortion/facts/abortionstats. html> on 3rd Apr 2008 3 Abortion: Some Medical Facts. Accessed from <www. nrlc. org/abortion/ASMF/index. html> on 3rd Apr 2008 4 Bonnie Steinbock – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Accessed from Bonnie Steinbock – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on 3rd Apr, 2008

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