Abortion is a popular topic of ethical discussions that exhibits a polarized debate that offers no compromising solution. In order to discuss effectively abortion, factual evidence must be supplemented by a two-sided agreement that takes care of the thoughts, philosophies and outlooks of the two sides. Moral dilemmas involved in abortion make up its ethical issue. The arguments for abortion and against abortion all have justification through moral principles however; no argument is fully accepted.
According to Harley (2002), on one side are the pro-choice group in favor of abortion and pro-life group that do not favor abortion. Abortion mainly arises from unplanned conceptions and advances in women contraceptives have not made them 100 per cent effective. Sometimes contraception is faulty and in most times, women fail to use contraception. As a result, the issue of abortion will always accompany the subject of women healthcare. While most women regret unplanned pregnancies, the issue of abortion weighs heavily before a decision is made. Primary health facilities form the first reference for women seeking information about abortion and therefore nurses and practitioners at the health facility must face the contentious issues involved inn abortion.
Bleek (1981) explains that, in most countries that publicly shun abortion, a secret practice thrives. Where the secret abortion practice is successful, the ethical judgment is always neutral. Severe criticism of abortion occurs when the openly done or secretly done and is unsuccessful. Blame is usually laid on women for acting frolicsome when the abortion goes wrong, however when it goes rightfully, the insiders concerned with the abortion feel that they have done the correct thing and are able to justify their cause with the success of the abortion. The abortions that are unsuccessful and lead to the death of the pregnant woman attract most publicity. In some cases, abortion is considered very shameful and during the burial of victims, the community refrains from hinting at the cause of death to spare the victim’s family any further shame.
Arguments for Abortion
Pro-choice group that defend the mother’s rights to terminate a pregnancy defend their claims based on free will and that unborn babies are not yet functional humans. The pro-choice group views that unborn babies are still in the formation period and before their gestation periods in their mother’s womb end, they are not fully functional as a person. Their immaturity also arises because they are yet to possess a consciousness that defines a person from another. Unborn are unable to participate in daily activities that people engage in, furthermore unborn babies do not possess a mind with the ability to think. They are independent of nothing other than growth and rely on their mothers for every type of nourishment including oxygen supply. Unborn babies possess other characteristics of life as growing and having a human genetic makeup just like other body organs like kidney and heart do possess. An unborn baby is not person without self-rationality and a capacity to survive independently physically (Marquis, 1989).
To assume personhood and enjoy human rights of life, one has to demonstrate that they meet the minimal criterion of being a human being and that is having a conscious. The right of life protects the life of a human from intentional killing by another human. However, this right cannot be extended to the unborn since they do not yet possess a consciousness and cannot therefore be classified as humans. To be human and assume innocence whose life is protected under the human right of life, one has to have a self-capable of exercising choice. Babies still in pregnancies might possess a self but cannot be able to choose and therefore have not right to enjoy as humans (Marquis, 1989).
To strengthen further their argument, pro-choice claim that choosing abortion is akin to agreeing to any other surgical operation on one’s body. Pregnancies are biological process in reproduction and the pregnancy holder can choose to keep the pregnancy and reproduce another human. However, the pregnancy does not become an independent life until successful birth of the new human. Abortion therefore cannot be termed as a wrongful act of killing.
Arguments against Abortion
On the other side, the pro-life groups argue that abortion is murder and therefore morally wrong. The unborn are living humans whose life needs protection. Intentional killing is murder moreover morally; persons do not approve murder and therefore should not murder others. Life begins at conception and needs protection. Pro-life groups believe that the factual evidence for their arguments is obvious and note that their presentation of the reasons to oppose abortion is sufficient to condemn the practice. Pro-life groups view that the unborn belong to the human society and are only in the care of their mothers for nourishment. Therefore, according to pro-life groups, the choice of terminating a pregnancy is not for the mother to make, rather physicians trusted by the society to make informed decisions, have the mandate to warrant an abortion only when both lives of mother and baby are in danger. Pro-life groups value life of the unborn as any other human life and infer upon it all rights enjoyed by fully matured humans (Geisler, 2010).
Concisely the moral question of abortion cannot be solved in one discussion. The arguments for and against abortion rely on general assumptions that apply to morality of humans. The question remains whether an unborn is human or yet to be human.
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