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Home : Moral Issues  : Abortion   : The Ethics of Abortion
ABORTION : The Ethics of Abortion

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This paper was written by a high school student.  Abortion is a hard topic to study and creates many areas for open discussion in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 woman's 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 woman's 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%
2. Not mature enough or too young to have a child, 81%
3. Can't afford baby now, 73%
4. Doesn't want others to know she had sex or is pregnant, 42%
5. Doesn't want to be a single parent, 37% 6. Unready for responsibility, 33%

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 woman's 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 woman's 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 awful crimes.

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 great burden.

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.



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