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
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
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
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
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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