The coexistence of opposite and conflicting feelings about abortion is
centuries old. Disagreements between public policy, morality and
individual behavior on this issue existed even at the time of Plato and
Aristotle. In the past few decades abortion issue has been brought into
sharper focus and has been vigorously debated. A number of factors are
responsible for this but perhaps the major one has been that associated
with the sexual revolution which accentuates freedom in all matters sexual
and in spite of or even because of the tremendous and indiscriminate
increase in the distribution of contraceptives. Judges have ruled,
politicians have legislated, but the controversy on this issue is still
shaking our society. Since the late 1960's abortion has been shifting from
a predominantly illegitimate status toward a more legitimate one. Several
cases have been fought for the right to choose. Many of these have been
hard cases with very personal feelings, but the perseverance showed through
and gives us the rights we have today. In 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut
upheld the right the right to privacy and ended the ban on birth control.
Eight years later, the Supreme Court ruled the right to privacy included
abortions. In Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court stated that it is the women's
right to have an abortion if she so chooses. In Jan 1988 the abortion
section of the Criminal Code of Canada was struck down in Morgentaler
decision. (Gentles, 13). Most arguments against granting women the right to
abortion are based on religious and moral prohibitions, defending the
sanctity of human life. Opponents of abortion rely on the premise that the
fetus is a human being, a person from the moment of conception. Anti-
abortionist proclaim that they are pro-life. However, they spend so much
time establishing that the fetus is a person and therefore has a right to
live that they forget about mothers rights or simply ignore her existence.
The word "murder" is often used by pro-lifers to describe abortion.
Murder means deliberate and unjustified killing of another person
containing intent. How can anybody see an evil intent in a woman's decision
to interrupt pregnancy if it is a result of rape or incest? A woman cannot
bear the thought of having a child that would be a constant reminder of
what had happened on such and such a day, such and such number of years ago.
She doesn't want to kill a baby, she wants to interrupt the growth of an
embryo so that it will not become a baby. She interrupts potential life.
But potential life is just that, potential.
It is interesting to note that these same people, who place so much
emphasis on protecting the fetus seem to care so little about what happens
to children after they are born. The vast majority oppose government
welfare programs to help support needy and dependent children. These
people are also in favor of the death penalty and see the killing that goes
on during war as justified and noble.
My personal belief is that each woman should have a right to decide
whether she wants to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. For reason's of
women's right to self-determination, protection of their health, adequate
care of children which are born and in order to prevent child abuse and
mental disease, easy access to abortion is a must. Most abortions occur
because contraception failed, because of a rape or because of a serious
medical condition of the mother which could lead to her death. In these
situations abortion is often the only way that prevents the birth of an
unwanted child or saves a mothers life.
Large percentage of women who have to deal with unwanted pregnancies
are teenagers. Pregnancy often has catastrophic effects on adolescents.
They drop out of school, have nervous breakdowns, even commit suicide. It
is also unsafe for them to go through with pregnancy. Dr. Henry
Morgentaler writes: "Mortality among pregnant teenage girls is sixty
percent higher than among adult women, one of the reasons being that the
pregnancy depletes the resources that the need for their own growth.
Congenital malformations are also more frequent among babies whose mothers
are under eighteen" (Morgentaler, 32). Many teenagers cannot provide the
right conditions for raising a child for they are children themselves.
Having a baby will often mean an end of future career, poverty and
complications in health.
Another issue is when pregnant women are older. They no longer feel
prepared to shoulder an obligation of motherhood. Most of these women
already have grown-up children and sometimes even grandchildren. From
medical point of view their health is also in danger: "Probability of
complication during childbirth and congenital malformations in the
offspring increases significantly after the age of forty. It is estimated
that about twenty five percent of Mongoloid children (Down's Syndrome) are
born to mothers over forty" (Morgentaler, 34).
The issue of rape has to be considered when we discuss the importance
for women of having a right to safe and legal abortion. It seems obvious
to most people that we should not force a woman who has become pregnant as
a result of rape to continue with pregnancy. Catholic church and
conservative pro-lifers use the same old "murder argument" to not allow a
woman to have an abortion in case of rape. Many of them do not realize the<...