Abortion is one of the most controversial issues around, and is an issue that will never be agreed upon. By bringing morals into the question of whether it should be legal to have abortions, this issue has been elevated to a higher level. By some people, it is no longer looked at as a question of choice but as a question of morality, and these concepts have led to a full-blown debate over something that really should not be questioned. Every woman in America has the right to decide what to do with their bodies. No government or group of people should feel that they have the right to dictate to a person what path their lives should take. People who say that they are “pro-life” are in effect no more than “anti-choice”. These pro-lifers want to put the life and future of a woman into the hands of the government.
At the time, which the fetus is aborted, it is not a being with personality. Anyone would agree to the fact that it is alive and human, however, it is also true that it is no more a person than a tree would be. Though the fetus may be a large grouping of human cells, with the potential to become more than that, at the state of development which the fetus has reached at the time of abortion, it is not a person and therefore should not be looked at as such.
W hen does the fetus become a person? Though the legal moment at which the fetus is looked at for the first time as a human being is deemed to be at the instant that it is born, the difference between an eight- week premature infant and a 24-week-old fetus is virtually nonexistent. So should the fetus be regarded as a person, or should the premature baby still be regarded as a fetus? Thus arises the statement by the pro-life side of the argument that should not the fact that we are unable to pinpoint with absolute certainty the precise moment when a fetus suddenly develops a personality means that we ought to do away with the process until such a time that we are able to ascertain that persons are not being murdered. This argument will go on for quite some time, and is but one in a list of reasons why the pro-life supporters take the standpoint that they do. The principle that every human being has the right to life is another key issue in this heated debate. The pro-life movement also firmly holds to the belief that regardless of whether or not the fetus is a person, the simple fact that it is a human being is reason enough to allow it to keep living. They argue that the severely mentally handicapped do not meet the definition of a person in extreme cases, and yet we would not see them exterminated, as they become a burden to society. This argument is a truly difficult one to combat. Though the fetus may be a member of the human species, is it always better to bring a child into the world, even if it is unwanted, unloved, etc. . . .? What if the birth of the child would result in the death of the mother, or would severely endanger her health? Is it still more important that the child be born? What if the child was the product of a sexual assault? Should the mother who, through no fault of her own, is now carrying this child be forced to give birth to it? In the cases of rape and incest the very idea of being forced to have the child of the woman’s abuser is repulsive. There are also cases when a woman’s health is put in jeopardy by having a child at all, forcing such a woman to bring a child to term, would be no less than attempted murder.
The simple fact that the fetus is alive does not, and should not; give it precedence over the mother. The mother will be the person who must carry it for nine months, and who must give birth to it. She is also the one who will have to care for it after it is born, so should her desires not take priority over a being that is not much more than a mass of cells, which more closely resembles a tadpole than a human? The right of the woman to choose whether or not she wishes to continue the pregnancy should be precisely that, the choice of the woman. If she deems it necessary to abort the fetus because of her economic standing, then so be it. If, contrary to the warnings of her obstetrician, she wishes to carry the child to term, then that is her decision. It should not be tested by pressures from any other outside influences or factors, aside from the medical advice of her physician. It should not be the place of government or society to impose and enforce individual moral decision. It should be left up to those who are directly involved and responsible, and not to those who have the option of walking away at any given point.
A misconception held is that people who are pro-choice are actually pro-abortion. Many people that support the right of a woman to decide what to do with her own body may be personally against abortions. But, that does not mean that they think the government should be able to pass laws governing what females do with their bodies. Pro-choice people simply believe that it is the right of a woman to assess her situation and decide if a baby would be either beneficial or deleterious to her present life. People that are against abortions do not take many things into consideration. One thing they do not consider is how the life of a teenager may be ruined if they are not given the option of abortion. Another thing not considered is the serious family strife that will result if a baby is forced to be born. Pro-lifers are adamant about their beliefs and think that they have an answer to every situation.
The common anti-abortion argument has many insurmountable faults. Basically, it states that fetuses are people with a right to life and that abortion is immoral because it deprives them of this right. The first problem with this argument is that no consensus has been reached regarding whether or not a fetus is a person. It cannot be proven that a fetus is a person, much less that they have a right to life, and therefore it cannot be said that abortion is unethical because it deprives them of this right. Pro-lifers who base their arguments upon the religious “ensoulment” concept must realize that morality and religion are two separate entities. From this conclusion it follows that the fetuses are not being deprived of their right to life because they do not possess that right. To simply say that the fetus is person and therefore has the right not to be killed is insufficient. Only the members of the moral community have full and equal moral rights. The potential of the fetus to become a member of the moral community is not enough for them to be granted the rights of membership. Since it is irrational to ascribe moral obligations and responsibilities to a fetus is it then not irrational to grant them full moral rights.
Radical pro-lifers fight for the lives of children and then go and destroy the lives of abortion doctors. Does this mean that they place more value on the life of a bundle of cells and tissues than they do on a conscious human being? Contradictions such as these lead many pro-choice people to believe that pro-lifers are close-minded, immovable, radicals. Pro-lifers may say to all of these arguments that any of these situations would be preferable to abortion. The important thing, they believe, is that these children will be living. They say that when a woman goes to get an abortion the fetus is given no choice. But, in effect, what they really are saying is that the power of choice should be taken away from the mothers, giving the unborn child an opportunity to be brought into a loveless, lonely, and uncaring world.
It is understandable why people would have moral conflicts over the topic, and that is their right. But let women also have the right. Let them be able to control their bodies and reproduction, and let them have the right to sexual expression other than that prescribed by custom and religion. It is their bodies and their lives, so let them decide.
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