Abortion as we all know is the deliberate removal (or deliberate action to cause the expulsion) of a foetus from the womb of a female resulting in the death of the foetus. This may be done at the request of mother or any of the family members (www.csus.edu, 2005). Though terminating a pregnancy is a major decision and an extremely difficult one to make, millions of women take this decision and decide to abort. There may be several reasons for such a decision taken by them. The purpose of this paper is to argue the circumstances under which abortion may be morally permissible.
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There is difference in the law of abortion in different countries. For instance, in the UK it is legal for termination to be carried out up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. On the other hand abortion in the United States is a highly-charged issue with significant political and ethical debate. Statistics point out that, there were 854,122 legal induced abortions reported to CDC in the US in 2003 (Strauss, et al., 2006). It is important to note that there are several methods to avoid pregnancy and people should adopt these methods to prevent pregnancy than to terminate it and that’s why it should be illegal.
Abortion is morally permissible only if the foetus poses a threat to the life prospects of the mother although the foetus itself is innocent. It may pose a threat to the pregnant woman’s well-being, life prospects, mental or physical health. Therefore, if pregnancy involves any such threats, it seems legal to justify abortion. This is one of the most controversial subjects and some people will say it is morally not correct (csus. 2005).
Though legal abortion protects women’s health, it should be opted only under certain conditions. For instance, for tens of thousands of women with various health challenges such as heart disease, kidney disease, severe hypertension, sickle-cell anaemia and severe diabetes, and other illnesses can be life-threatening, if the pregnancy is sustained. In such cases the availability of legal abortion can help turn away serious medical complications that could have resulted from childbirth. However, other than these health problems abortions should be considered illegal.
This point can be further justified that responsible parenthood involves decades devoted to the child’s proper nurture. To sentence a woman who also plays an important role in the child’s development to bear a child against her will is a violation of her rights. In other words a woman who is not willing to have a child which will seriously pose a threat to her life is a violation of her right to liberty (to the functions of her body), her right to the pursuit of her happiness, and, sometimes, her right to life itself (Peikoff, N.D).
There are people who argue that a foetus has a potential for being a person and should not be aborted. However, this cannot be justified if the woman’s life is at threat. Even though, the right to life of the foetus cannot outweigh the right of a woman to obtain an abortion, as the rights of any actual person who is alive will invariably outweigh those of any potential person who is yet to be born (www.csus.edu, 2005; Hanna, 2004).
There are also cases when a woman is raped and she conceives without her willingness. In such cases abortion is morally permissible if the woman is willing to abort. In general in such circumstances one would prefer abortion because of the mental trauma she has undergone. Thus, a woman is morally permitted to have an abortion even if she were not to be harmed by bearing the foetus (ignu, 2003). “In Judith Thomson’s classic defense of abortion, she compares a foetus to an unconscious man hooked to an unwilling woman while she sleeps. Surely, she reasons, most would have no problem with unhooking the annoying person even if it meant he were to die.” (ignu, 2003).
In conclusion, it can be said that abortions can be morally be permissible only if it is a serious threat to the woman’s health or life or if the child’s survival itself is not sure because of some congenital problems abortions can be permissible. If the woman has conceived as a result of a rape and has undergone a mental trauma, even in such cases abortions may be considered. It is morally not correct to kill another person, at the same time it is also wrong to knowingly allow another to die when one could intervene and save that person. However, killing a person is different than allowing that person to die. A person’s right to life does not allow him or her to take the life of another; correspondingly, a person’s right to life does not hold any claims over others life.
Hanna, B (2004) Foot’s “Euthanasia”: A Reconstruction of the Argument. Web.
ignu, (2003) Abortion is morally permissible. Web.
Peikoff, L. (N.D) Objectivism, in the Chapter on Government, Quoted in Abortion is Pro Life. Web.
Strauss, L.T. et al. (2006) Abortion Surveillance – United States, 2003, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web.
www.csus.edu, (2005) The Ethics of Abortion: Is Abortion Morally Permissible? Web.