Abortion: Controversial Thoughts Analysis

Subject: Medical Ethics
Pages: 10
Words: 2531
Reading time:
10 min
Study level: College

Abortion has developed into a very controversial topic over these past few decades. Abortion is defined as “the expulsion of a fetus from the uterus before it has reached the stage of viability, in human beings, usually about the 20th week of gestation. An abortion may occur unexpectedly, in which case it is also called a miscarriage, or it may be brought on purposefully, in which case it is often called an induced abortion.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2008) This paper will focus only on those abortions which are considered to be induced and will present the argument to both sides, considering both the argument for Pro-life as well as for Pro-choice.

Pro-Life supporters are commonly called anti-abortionists. Pro-Life supporters believe in the sanctity of life, that each life is sacred and that each child deserves the right to potential life. The fetus is seen to be a human being that has reached the developmental stage to qualify as being a human being. Pro-Life supporters believe that contraception is a form of abortion in which you are not allowing nature to run its course. They also believe the contraception pill prevents fertilization as it causes the womb lining to change through the influx of oestrogen. Pro-Life supporters believe that I.U.D. (inter-urine device) or coil count as types of aided abortion. They also believe in viability; viability is the point a baby could survive independently, it is now an independent creature. A child is seen to be the bearer of rights and as the parents have consented to sexual intercourse they should not bring an end to its life, the argument still rages that there is an arbitrary start to life. Each child deserves the right to have a life, even if the child is unwanted there are many families who want children but are unable to conceive themselves. (Hendershott, 2006)

According to Beckwith (2007) “Killing someone is wrong because the killing inflicts the greatest possible loss on the victim.” Beckwith states that it is not the effect on the murderer and the victim’s friends and relatives that makes killing an absolute wrong. Although killing does affect those close to the victim the ultimate harm done is on the victim himself due to their loss of future. Killing is regarded as one of the worst crimes because it is depriving people of the value of their future (Beckwith, 2007). If these views were applied to abortion it would be easy to see how abortion could be considered wrong. By willingly ending the life of the fetus you are willingly ending their possibility of a future. The fetus has the possibility of having a future with emotions, experiences and activities that are the same as human beings and even closer to that of young children. This argument applies in most cases of abortion but not all. For example, to abort a fetus whose life will be filled with unbearable pain and anguish because of a physical or cognitive disorder could be justified because it could be said that the future of the fetus would be bleak and uncertain. In ways it could be stated that the means justify the end.

It must be noted however, that this acceptance would not apply to all situations of physical and cognitive disabilities; only the most severe cases would qualify. For example, there could be no way to justify inducing an abortion because it has been determined that the child would be born without a hand. Modern day technologies are able to help and assist this child throughout their life and help cope with the disability. Their possibility for a promising future would not be lost due to the fact that they were missing a hand. “Abortion, like ordinary killing, could be justified only by the most compelling reasons” (Beckwith, 2007). The biggest problem with this issue is where to draw the line between severe and bearable pain and disability. What one person might consider not worth living with may be different from another person’s definition. What ends up happening is the development of a “slippery-slope” between permissible and not permissible abortions based on disabilities. There will always be disagreements on which disabilities could be considered to have an impact on a person having a good future.

Those who opposed to abortion rely on the fact that the fetus is a human being from the moment that they are conceived. At that moment a unique DNA is created and they argue that God places a human soul in that just fertilized Ovum (Bender, 2007). This has seemed to be a continuing debate between both sides. Pro-life activists disagree with the argument that a fatal life becomes a person only when electrical activity begins in the cerebral cortex. They argue that at the time of conception all major decisions as to what that fetus will become have been determined. For example, whether it will be male or female, what height it will be, what build it will be, and what color its hair, eyes, and skin will be. In their views, this is enough to determine that a person is living inside the mother, even though there is no brain activity or vital organs formed yet. All people have a right to live and under the pro-life view this includes a fetus from the moment of conception. (Almond, 2007)

Hull (2004) argues that the unborn fetus has a right to its mother’s body if that woman voluntarily indulges in intercourse. They argue that when the women engage in sexual intercourse she is fully aware of the consequences and the possibility that she might conceive a child. For this they say she is responsible for that life that is living inside her. This argument gives the unborn person a right to the mother’s body and gives the mother a responsibility for the life because it is dependent on her (Hull, 2004). It should be noted however, that a fetus conceived through rape could not use this defence due to the fact that the sexual intercourse was not voluntary. Pro-life activists have been so concerned with establishing the independence of the fetus that they have missed the fact that the fetus is dependent on the mother and through this she has a special responsibility to it. (Bender, 2007)

On the other side of the abortion issue are those who recognize the right of the woman to choose whether or not she wants to give birth to the fetus in her womb. There are both feminist and non-feminist approaches to the pro-choice argument. The feminist perspective bases its ideas on the influence that the unwanted pregnancy has on the woman; whereas, the non-feminist perspective bases its assumptions on the moral status of the fetus. Feminists acknowledge the fact that women have abortions for a wide variety of reasons (Almond, 2007). Some women are not financially stable to raise a child and have no other means to be able to support that child, some are diagnosed with AIDS and some are addicted to drugs.

These are just a few reasons that a woman may not want to bring a child into this world with such disadvantages. Feminists recognize the fact that abortion is necessary for many women if they are to escape the oppressive conditions of poverty (Almond, 2007). For women, being able to have the option of abortion helps them to have power over their own sexual lives. Women’s inferior role does not always allow them to stop men’s sexual treatment of their bodies. If women are not given the choice to end an unwanted pregnancy, the women become even more defenceless to men because having a child reduces their likelihood of advancement in the economic system. (Bender, 2007) This results in women staying dependent on men for their economic advantages. Feminists argue that for women to steer clear of unexpected pregnancies they should avoid sexual intercourse and show no admiration for the empowering of women in sexual politics (Bender, 2007). This view encourages the fact that women should have no control over their sexual lives.

Pro-Choice supporters believe that parents of a child have the right to have an abortion as the child is their “property” and in some cases they believe in the ownership of the unborn child. Pro-Choice supporter believe that there is an inadequacy of a sharp boundary in which we realise that the fetus is alive. They believe that there are sharp boundaries to state when abortions are arbitrary because a person has a loose concept and that the transition from a fertilized egg to a child can be better represented by a fairly steady upward curve rather than separate stages with abrupt transitions. They believe that life is as uncertain as death as we do not know exactly when we are born and when exactly we will die. (Beckwith, 2007)

There are many views on when life begins. One view is that life begins at conception, this means that life begins as soon as the male sperm and female ovum combine. Another view is that life begins at some definite point during pregnancy. Thomas Aquinas, a medieval philosopher, argued that a fetus became a human when a soul was implanted this process is called ensoulment (Hendershott, 2006). Some people believe ensoulment is when the mother feels the baby move for the first time in her womb. A third view is that life does not start until birth as this is the first time people can view the child in all its glory. Pro-Choice supporters also believe in women’s rights as if a woman does not want the child why should she let the child take control of her body as the child will survive for 9 months in the mother’s body. They also believe that a fetus is not a person and that the woman’s right over her body is more important than the life of the person in her womb. Pro-Choice supporters believe that if a mother’s life is threatened she has the right to terminate the pregnancy as her life is seen to be more important than the life of the child, her life takes priority. (Hendershott, 2006)

When it comes to abortion for non-feminists they argue that abortion can be tolerated because the fetus lacks full personhood (Almond, 2007). Hull (2004) argues that “A woman should be allowed to make her own decisions and have full control over her body. Non-feminists argue that the fetus becomes a human much later in pregnancy and that before this point a woman should be able to end her pregnancy if she is fully aware of the consequences and she has a safe abortion. Those who defend abortion argue that the fetus is not a person, but only a bit of tissue that will become a person at birth”. (Hull, 2004) However, many pro-choice do not agree that a woman should be able to have an abortion at any point in her pregnancy.

They recognize that after some point in the pregnancy the fetus could be considered a person and to abort this child would be unjust. There is no disagreement between defenders and opponents of women’s rights that “the difference between a late-term fetus and a newborn infant is ‘merely geographical’ and cannot be considered morally significant” (Bender, 2007). The biggest problem with this argument is that there is large uncertainty of where to draw the line of when an abortion is appropriate and when it is not. Pro-choicer argues that before the 20th week the neural structures necessary to register and record sensations of pain are not functioning. Also before the 20th week they argue that the fetus does not contain an individual human personality (Hendershott, 2006). Given this information, pro-choice activists argue that abortion causes no immediate harm to the fetus because it lacks both perception of pain and individual personality.

Pro-choice activists also argue that abortion can be a benefit to society. “The harm to a society that is caused by an excess of unchecked population growth is severe and well-document” (Hendershott, 2006). There are very few countries in this world that outlaw abortion that are not having excessive overpopulation problems. They argue that abortion allows nations to maintain a stable population with nearly zero population growth. Abortion can also be an advantage for the woman. The risks of death and permanent disability are significantly greater than for a woman who aborts before her third trimester. The social and financial pressures that result from motherhood can be a serious harm, especially for those women who will be raising a child on their own. Although some of this could be relieved by adoption, free medical care for pregnant women, and social assistance for women unable to work because of pregnancy, these solutions are not always as easy as they sound, and they are not as universally available as many people think.

In conclusion abortions kill helpless babies, and it is potentially fatal to ‘mothers’ as well. Two out of every five abortions are illegal (Bender, 2007). This results in problems because there is no government guideline in place at these backstreet clinics where spread of infection, disease and bacteria is rife. There are stories of these illegal abortions being carried out using instruments such as knitting needles. Therefore the effectiveness and the results are not always reliable because abortions performed in such unskilled manners can cause women to bleed to death and permanent enable them to have children. Maybe this is a good thing because who is to say that if the women gets pregnant again she will want the child and then she will decide she doesn’t want the child after the birth, what will she do then? Kill the baby, give it up for adoption, throw it in the trash can? It is not accepted in society to give a born baby, but to kill an unborn baby is? I do not understand this concept.

Pro abortionists may argue that it is a woman’s right to whether they want to have a baby or not. I totally agree that it is the women’s right to have a baby, if she does not want a baby she should use contraception to prevent a baby ever being created. She also needs to realize that nothing is full proof and contraception does fail at times. If a woman is prepared to have sex, protected or not, she should be prepared for the fact her actions may begin a new life. Abortion should not have to exist in this day and age when pregnancy and be easily prevented. There are always people wanting to adopt babies, why not give it to a loving family? A pregnant woman’s rights are no greater that an unborn child’s but the women have the advantage of speech, something that an unborn baby will never have.

It is obvious that abortion is a polite word for murder but yet it goes on every day mostly unopposed and legally. It is of the greatest importance that abortion stops because who is to say that in years to come that anyone of any age can be legally murdered because people do not want responsibility?


Almond, Lucinda. (2007). The Abortion Controversy (Current Controversies). Detroit: Greenhaven Press, pp. 78-82.

Beckwith, Francis J. (2007). Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 124-135.

Bender, Karen. (2007). Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion. San Francisco: MacAdam/Cage, pp. 23-26.

Encyclopaedia Britannica “Abortion.” (2008). Web.

Hendershott, Anne. (2006). The Politics of Abortion. New York: Encounter Books, pp. 154-156.

Hull N. E. H., William James Hoffer, Peter Charles Hoffer. (2004). The Abortion Rights Controversy in America: A Legal Reader. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, pp. 45-54.

This is the document that will be used to grade your final draft. I’ve made some notes for you to consider as you finalize the final draft. My comments, however, are not all inclusive since this was a quick review of your document.

Position Essay Evaluation
English 112
Criteria Points Earned Points Possible Percent Grade Comments
I. Introduction/Purpose/Focus/Clarity 30
Clear, thoughtful position
Acknowledges counterarguments
Provides background information
II. Organization/Coherence/Support 40
Well-balanced showing more than 1 side
Clear demonstration of knowledge about issue
Shows clear evidence for position held
Shows awareness of counterarguments and refutation
Evidence validity is established
Sustained organization; logical order
Accurate and relevant support for position provided
Ideas are effectively developed and supported
III. Correctness/Writing Conventions 20 Lots of grammar and mechanical errors.
Clear sentences that vary in structure
Few errors in grammar and mechanics
Error frequency and/or type does not distract from the overall effectiveness
Coherence and unity exists in paragraphs
IV. Style 10
Consistent tone
Accurate word choice
V. Critical Thinking 40
Clear, logical analysis
Opposing positions are discussed and considered with adequate refutation
Synthesis of ideas competently conveyed
Objections to author’s position addressed
VI. References 50 LOTS OF INFO LACKS ATTRIBUTION. You cannot make statements that someone “says” or “believes” something without evidence. MAKE SURE YOUR INFORMATION HAS ATTRIBUTIONS. LACK of source attribution constitutes plagiarism.
Sources not merely present, but contribute to the writer’s purpose/focus
Sources presented in such a way as to represent others’ intellectual property accurately, fairly, appropriately and consistently
MLA or APA documentation style followed
VII. Meets Criteria of Assignment 10
Meets MLA/APA format guidelines
Meets assignment criteria
Total 0 200 0%
NOTE: The project will not be accepted if the number and type of sources are incorrect, if the length does not meet minimum standards, and if there are no in-text citations or Works Cited/References page.