The ongoing debate on the legal status of abortion is gradually gaining momentum in the modern world. One of the major reasons for this is the increasing influence of human rights movements and the tremendous progress made in the field in the recent years. In the light of recent trends, the illegal status of abortions can be viewed as a violation of human beings’ right to make choices. The issue is aggravated by the fact that the practice is strongly opposed by tradition in many cultures. Paradoxically, both scientific and legal perspectives of the question provide several arguments which discourage legalization of abortions. Therefore, despite being challenging to define and categorize under most jurisdictions and displaying several controversial points, the legalization of abortions should be approached with utmost caution and carefully considered before implementation.
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First, according to the consensus, human existence is initiated at the stage of conception. The proponents of abortion legalization often cite the concept of human soul commonly used by religious groups as an argument against pregnancy termination. Since soul is present in the fetus before it is born, it is logical to extend this idea to the claim that a clinician who is performing an abortion is committing a sinful act. The influence of this belief is traceable in legal provisions of several countries, which codify acceptable time of abortion based on the details of sacred texts. However, skeptical minds are quick to highlight that these suggestions are questionable at best or even culturally and socially obsolete. This approach aligns well with a lack of scientific proof of the metaphysical concept of the soul.
Ironically, scientific method actually offers support to the suggestion that human fetus should be considered alive since the moment of its conception. For instance, according to consensus, human identity is defined by the genetic information and later modified by the environment. However, the unique genetic identity is not affected by experience and remains unaltered throughout life. This genetic information is conceived at the very moment of fertilization. Basically, this means that everything which constitutes human beings is present in them from the start and does not require time to develop. Therefore, no division can be made between a fetus and a newborn. In this way, science actually strengthens the validity of claims made by religious texts and moves the notion of life from matter of personal opinion or ideological belief into the field of reliable and falsifiable evidence-based knowledge.
Second, the legal status of abortion, which is commonly portrayed as a manifestation of free will, actually violates the right to life. One of the strongest arguments often heard in support of legalization of abortions is that it allows women to be in control of their lives. Ultimately, the illegality of abortions is viewed as signs of human rights violation. However, if we consider the previous argument, it becomes clear that the unborn individuals are entitled to the same set of rights and are therefore subject to protection. Even if the DNA argument can be discarded as subject to philosophical interpretation, the legal provisions in many countries recognize the concept of unborn victims of violence. Therefore, the priority of decision of adults over those of unborn children becomes questionable at best. Admittedly, the legal status of unborn still resides in the “grey zone” of law, meaning that it does not include clear definitions and proceedings. Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe that such uncertainty can be interpreted in favor of abortion proponents.
Third, the practice of pregnancy termination is known to cause adverse health effects and has been showed to cause psychological trauma. Aside from the obvious physiological risks associated with the procedure, such as damage to internal organs, infection, and bleeding, pregnancy termination can result in depression. Importantly, while the former are well understood and can be prevented by appropriate level of caution, the latter is currently under-researched and, therefore, cannot be properly addressed. In addition, several studies have established a positive connection between abortion and increased a likelihood of committing suicide. Even more importantly, the effect is not bound to women. The decision to terminate pregnancy also results in depression among men whose partners made underwent the procedure. It is important to note that at least in some instances these effects can be attributed to other factors, such as social environment where abortions are common. Nevertheless, the mounting evidence can not be discarded based solely on this claim without further inquiry.
After considering the arguments above, we can conclude that the support for legalization of abortions is far less conclusive than stated by its advocates. Certainly, contemporary understanding of liberties and freedom of choice suggests that at least some of the traditional views on the matter can be safely discarded. However, under closer inspection, it becomes obvious that the supporters of legalization often use controversial notions and display biased approach to the issue. Thus, the legalization of abortions should be approached with utmost caution and carefully considered before implementation.