Wednesday, May 9, 2012


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Abortions have caused major ethical disputes over recent decades. Many topics circulating these disputes include the psychological effects of abortions, whether it is right to terminate an embryo, the concept of personhood and whether or not abortions should be illegal. These are just a handful of questions debated about- as a community, and more importantly, as an individual. Abortions can be seen as a moral, psychological and epidemiological problem (just to name a few) however, many women choose abortions because of medical reasons or for their own personal reasons.

Abortions can be defined as the termination of in utero foetal life after conception and before birth. (Encyclopaedia of Ethics) An abortion can happen naturally (i.e. miscarriage) or it can be induced (i.e. deliberately) for most people, abortions are usually referred to as the deliberate termination of a foetal.

Abortions are usually performed during the first twelve weeks of the pregnancy. Abortions can be performed up to twenty-four weeks into the pregnancy, but this involves many risks for the pregnant woman and the baby. Clinical abortions are usually a simple procedure and in most cases, women can leave on the same day.

Abortions can be viewed as a disastrous problem. It can be seen as a moral, medical, legal, sociological, demographic and psychological problem.
It is a moral problem because it raises the question of the nature and control of incipient human life.
It is a medical problem because the doctor is the person normally called upon to perform the abortion (both his conscience and medical skills are questioned)
It is a legal problem because it raises the question of the extent to which society should concern itself with unborn life, with motherhood, with family life and with public control over the medical profession.
It is a sociological problem because it touches on women’s roles in our society, family organisation and disorganisation, and the national demographics of formal and informal sanctions.
It is a demographic problem because it raises the question of whether abortions provide a useful, desirable and legitimate method of population limitation where such limitation is needed.
Finally, it is a psychological problem because in one way or the other, the attitudes of human beings towards conception, pregnancy, birth and child-rearing touches deep-rooted drives, emotions, instincts and taboos. (Callahan)

Many groups have been formed because of member’s strong values about abortions. The most noted is the Pro-life group, which believes abortions are morally and ethically wrong, and that it is the most important political issue. Pro-life supporters believe abortions should only be performed when the pregnancy or childbirth itself is threatening to the woman bearing the child.

With all the negative aspects considered, it seems that just as many people support the abortions. There are many reasons for their support; it could be for medical reasons such as the woman could be suffering from metal/physical illness that could be worsened by pregnancy, an illness in the family in which the baby can inherit, or a rubella infection in the early stages of pregnancy which the baby can be born handicapped.
Other reasons include inability to cope with pregnancy and child-rearing, financial problems, pregnancy due to rape or the pregnancy was an accident due to failure of contraception. (Donnellan)
Abortions in religious-dominating countries such as France and Italy are illegal due to the Church’s Political influences.

In Australia, most abortions are performed in the first twelve weeks after conception. The law states that a baby is not considered a human being until he/she has taken his/her first breathe. Other countries and their laws tend to oppose Australia’s ones. Some beliefs, religious and non-religious, believe that life exists from the moment of conception. Others feel that the availability of abortions implies a lower respect for human life. Nevertheless, religious beliefs are predominately the main drive against abortions.

The Christian religion regards abortions as a sin against God. They believe that sex should only be performed after marriage and if a young, unmarried woman falls pregnant, she is deliberately disobeying God. It is even worse when she decides to have an abortion.

Protestants also have strict rules regarding sex and marriage. However, in early Biblical writings, it does not consider that the woman and foetus has equal status- the foetus was not considered a person.

Judaism has traditionally taught a respect for human life, including prenatal life. In Jewish laws, there is an absolute right to life, but not an absolute right to be born. An unborn life is not considered to be a person until its head, or the greater part of the body is born, after which it cannot be killed, even to save the mother’s life.

Confucius taught that it was important to have sons, an attitude that still affects Chinese and Japanese cultures today. Both nations use abortions as an important form of birth control.

In many Western countries, such as USA, the issue of abortion has caused such controversy that it has lead to deadly actions. On July 16th 2001, two security guards of an abortion clinic was shot and killed. It was forecasted that if the killer had not been stopped, it would’ve caused a massacre. The killing itself has been seen as contradicting. Pro-life activist protest against the termination of lives, yet this man has did exactly that.

Instead of illegalising abortions, where even more problems will erupt, the government has raised the cost of abortions, limiting the amount that will be performed. 

Other countries, such as the UK, which has similar views of abortions, have made it even more difficult. To have an abortion, the woman must first seek a doctor explaining why the abortion is necessary. If the doctor agrees, he/she will refer the woman to another doctor. If the second doctor too agrees, then he/she will make arrangements for the abortion to go ahead.

Australia on the hand does not have really big issues with abortions (compared to other countries.) It has been thought that abortions should be readily available for those who seek it. It is the individual’s and society’s best interest that it is so, for it can prevent serious problems such as side effects of backstreet abortions. A Backstreet abortion is where non-practicing doctors carry out abortions illegally. It is unhygienic and dangerous and may cause internal damages to the woman, as well as rapidly decreasing her chance of falling pregnant in the future.

It is estimated that up to one third of women in Australia will have an abortion at some time in their life (Hot Topic, November 2000)

Another important issue circulation the abortion debate is a woman’s right to choose. To those whom only have a vague idea of abortions, the only choice a woman needs to make is whether to continue or terminate the pregnancy. However, abortions come with many other problems.

For years, the public has been told that abortion is a safe procedure, with no other problems. Women needed abortions to have total control over their fertility and total freedom to choose what to do with their lives. Abortions would bring a new status to women. (LIFE)

Abortion is a safe procedure (in the short run). Conversely, it is an invasion of a woman’s body, whether it was surgical or chemical. Surgical methods can damage future fertility as well as immediate infection. Chemical procedures are immediately dangerous, painful to use and can have long-term effects on women’s health.

It can often leave women feeling angry, guilty, a sense of regret, deletion of self-esteem and a lost of trust in others. Often, the strain of coping with the termination causes more problems than any posed by the pregnancy itself.

The myth of freedom of choice is cleverly hidden. Those close to the pregnant woman know that if the pregnancy continues, they are expected to do something to help. If she has an abortion, they need to do nothing. She has the abortion alone. She copes with it- alone. For selfish partners, parents and friends, the choice is simple. They choose, not her. There is little freedom to choose when those who should give love and support walk away, leaving her to cope alone.

In conclusion, abortion has definitely had ethical and moral problems, however if it is illegalise abortions will cause serious health and mortality questions for those who oppose that view. It is a person’s freedom of choice to choose how they lead their life, and what they should be able to do. Therefore, the legalising of abortions is preferable because it allows this freedom of choice to the few that seek it, whilst still considering the health and welfare of them.

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