Essay on abortion rights
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Arguments in favour of abortion
This article sets out the women’s rights arguments that, in certain circumstances, favour abortion.
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Women’s rights arguments in favour of abortion
Here are some of the women’s rights arguments in favour of abortion:
- Women have a moral right to decide what to do with their bodies
- The right to abortion is vital for gender equality
- The right to abortion is vital for individual women to achieve their full potential
- Banning abortion puts women at risk by forcing them to use illegal abortionists
- The right to abortion should be part of a portfolio of pregnancy rights that enables women to make a truly free choice whether to end a pregnancy
This argument reminds us that even in the abortion debate, we should regard the woman as a person and not just as a container for the foetus. We should therefore give great consideration to her rights and needs as well as those of the unborn.
Pro-choice women’s rights activists do not take a casual or callous attitude to the foetus; the opposite is usually true, and most of them acknowledge that choosing an abortion is usually a case of choosing the least bad of several bad courses of action.
Abortion affects women disproportionately
Abortion is an important element of women’s rights because women are more affected by the abortion debate than men, both individually (if they are considering an abortion) and as a gender.
Pregnancy has an enormous effect on the woman involved. As Sarah Weddington put it to the US Supreme Court in Roe v Wade:
A pregnancy to a woman is perhaps one of the most determinative aspects of her life. It disrupts her body. It disrupts her education. It disrupts her employment. And it often disrupts her entire family life.
Sarah Weddington in Roe v Wade
And Mrs Weddington continued:
And we feel that, because of the impact on the woman, this … is a matter which is of such fundamental and basic concern to the woman involved that she should be allowed to make the choice as to whether to continue or to terminate her pregnancy.
Sarah Weddington in Roe v Wade
And the philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson wrote:
. a great deal turns for women on whether abortion is or is not available.
If abortion rights are denied, then a constraint is imposed on women’s freedom to act in a way that is of great importance to them, both for its own sake and for the sake of their achievement of equality;
And if the constraint is imposed on the ground that the foetus has a right to life from the moment of conception, then it is imposed on a ground that neither reason nor the rest of morality requires women to accept, or even to give any weight at all.
Judith Jarvis Thomson
Many people regard the right to control one’s own body as a key moral right. If women are not allowed to abort an unwanted foetus they are deprived of this right.
The simplest form of the women’s rights argument in favour of abortion goes like this:
- A woman has the right to decide what she can and can’t do with her body
- The foetus exists inside a woman’s body
- A woman has the right to decide whether the foetus remains in her body
- Therefore a pregnant woman has the right to abort the foetus
The issue brings many ideas about human rights into brutally sharp focus.
- Every human being has the right to own their own body
- A foetus is part of a woman’s body
- Therefore that woman has the right to abort a foetus they are carrying
The important US Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade to some extent supported that view when it ruled that a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy came under the freedom of personal choice in family matters and was protected by the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
This leads some people to claim is that it is unethical to ban abortion because doing so denies freedom of choice to women and forces ‘the unwilling to bear the unwanted’.
Opponents of this argument usually attack the idea that a foetus is ‘part’ of a woman’s body. They argue that a foetus is not the same sort of thing as a leg or a liver: it is not just a part of a woman’s body, but is (to some extent) a separate ‘person’ with its own right to life.
A second objection to this argument is that people do not have the complete right to control their bodies. All people are subject to various restrictions on what they do with their bodies — and some of these restrictions (laws against suicide or euthanasia) are just as invasive.
Childbearing, freedom and equality
The women’s liberation movement sees abortion rights as vital for gender equality.
They say that if a woman is not allowed to have an abortion she is not only forced to continue the pregnancy to birth but also expected by society to support and look after the resulting child for many years to come (unless she can get someone else to do so).
They argue that only if women have the right to choose whether or not to have children can they achieve equality with men: men don’t get pregnant, and so aren’t restricted in the same way.
Furthermore, they say, women’s freedom and life choices are limited by bearing children, and the stereotypes, social customs, and oppressive duties that went with it.
They also regard the right to control one’s own body as a key moral right, and one that women could only achieve if they had were entitled to abort an unwanted foetus.
No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.
Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood
- Women need free access to abortion in order to achieve full political, social, and economic equality with men
- Women need the right to abortion in order to have the same freedoms as men
- Women need the right to abortion to have full rights over their own bodies (including the right to decide whether or not to carry a foetus to birth) — without this right they do not have the same moral status as men
The US Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade, which gave women a right to abortion (under certain conditions) is seen by many as having transformed the status of women in the USA.
This landmark decision. not only protects rights of bodily integrity and autonomy, but has enabled millions of women to participate fully and equally in society.
Abortion as a Right: Arguments For Pro-Choice
Abortion rights are some of the most hotly contested issued in our society. Though the right to an abortion has been enshrined in American law for the past several decades, there has been a recurring attempt by conservative elements of the population to ban the practice or make it too difficult to access effectively. Regardless of the legality of abortion, there are many arguments for and against the procedure. The research paper service writer that wrote this argues in favor of the right of a woman to obtain an abortion.
Pro-choice: Each woman has the right to an abortion
Abortion is one of the most divisive issues facing our country today. Supporters and critics of abortion will usually define themselves as being strictly pro-choice, in that they support a woman’s right to make decisions about her body, or strictly pro-life, in that they believe the fetus is a human life which should not be destroyed. However, most individuals do not define themselves within these restrictive concepts as they may find themselves somewhere in the middle of the debate with room for compromise. They recognize that the real life circumstances of abortion are not black and white. They may believe that in some cases it is justifiable to have an abortion such as in the cases of rape. Others are conflicted about the issue as their religion may have taught them one view and their experience has led to another. These conflicting views add to the debate as well as other complicated issues which deepen the discussion around the issue of abortion.
SCOTUS rules women have the right to choose
In my opinion, women have the right to have an abortion. It is their freedom of choice as well control over their body. However, more and more individuals are trying to make the decision for us. According to Luker, 2009, many of these individuals who attempt to make the decision for women are men who would never have to make that personal decision of having an abortion themselves. Women have fought hard to be able to get the right to vote, be counted as a human being without a man attached and the right to make decisions over their body. By taking away the rights of women to make decisions about their body would make a negative impact on the progress made by the women’s movement.
Individuals who involve themselves in the debate need to acknowledge that what may be the right decision for some may not be the best decision for others. While I believe that it is a women’s right to choose I am not fully supportive of all cases of abortion. I think that the time frame in which a woman is able to get an abortion need to be scaled back in some ways. However, this cannot occur for all cases as each individual woman may have different circumstances surrounding their decision to have an abortion. The pros and cons of the debate surrounding abortion will be analyzed to present a concise analysis of the issue. The various factors impacting the issue will also be analyzed. It is important to take into account both sides of an issue in order to understand what barrier exist in enacting or maintaining legislation.
Pros of abortion
The pros of abortion are often highlighted in cases in which women are raped or sexually abused and a pregnancy results. Supporters of abortion argue that women should not be forced to have a baby after a horrible incident such as a rape. The baby would serve as a reminder of the rape. Some individuals also support abortion in cases in which there may be medical problems which would significantly limit the quality of life for the baby that would be born. They would argue that a fetus is not a person right at conception which makes it okay to terminate a pregnancy early in the first trimester which often when abortions occur. Those who support abortion would argue that abortion is a safe medical procedure which significantly relieves the woman of the stress of having an unwanted pregnancy.
The supporters of abortion would also argue that, although women have come a long way, they are still a group of individuals who oppressed. The chances of being oppressed increase if a woman is poor or belongs to a minority group. Having a baby which the woman is unable to care for keeps the woman in a cycle of poverty and deprivation. This oppression often makes it so that women are unable to make decisions about their reproductive rights. They are often involved in relationships which make it difficult for them to make contraceptive decisions on their own. These women often find themselves in poverty as they are unable to afford the many children they continue to have. By having the option of abortion available to them these women can make a decision about their reproductive rights and options.
Arguments against abortion
The primary argument against abortion is that it is essentially murder which is against the First Amendment and our laws. Pro-life advocates consider the fetus a person right at conception once the sperm fertilizes the egg. This personhood argument makes it so that those women who are having abortions are killing the fetus.
“First, they can be used to make the claim that fetuses are creatures with interests of their own right from the start, including, preeminently, an interest in remaining alive, and that therefore they have the rights that all human beings have to protect these basic interests, including a right not to be killed” (Dworkin, 2011 n. p).
Those arguing against abortion also make the argument that it is often being utilized as a form of contraception when there are multiple other forms of effective contraception. They would also argue that other options are available for pregnant women such as adoption. This would save the life of the baby and provide families who have been unable to have a child with a baby of their own. The woman would be able to turn a difficult situation into an opportunity to help a family in need.
Detractors of abortion often cite practical reasons such as medical or psychological consequences of having an abortion, which, for the most part, have been proven untrue. They argue that abortion can be an unsafe procedure which can result in numerous complications affecting the fertility of the woman for the rest of her life. They also argue that abortions can cause psychological distress in women who have them. The guilt associated with the act and thoughts of destroying their baby can make it difficult for them to function. This can lead to mental illness such as depression or anxiety which can be debilitating. Young women often have abortions in order not to have their future compromised by the responsibility of having children. However, the guilt associated with having an abortion can impact these young women for the rest of their lives.
Many religions argue against abortion
Multiple factors impact the issue of abortion such as religious, legal and moral concerns which lean individuals in favor or against the issue. Religious views against abortion are that committing abortions go against God. This is not only because it violates the seventh commandment which states that murder is against the laws of God. Other religious views are that ending a pregnancy is acting as God since he is the only one that can make a decision to take a life. However, often religious individuals are also against contraception so their perceived solution to the problem is that individuals only have sex for procreation which is unrealistic. Those who have religious views are usually against abortion by any means. One recent example of moral attacks against abortion is the late-term abortion debate. Opponents argue this is murder because the child has a heartbeat and a chance for survival outside the womb.
Moral concerns of abortion revolve around the morality of limiting the civil rights of women but also around ending pregnancies due to the possibility of disabilities such as downs syndrome occurring in the baby. By not allowing a woman to control her body is denying her rights. However, the situation is complicated and is unique to women as men do not ever have to make that decision about their body. This is why it makes it easy for men, especially in legislative positions, to attempt to take away their right to choose. However, abortion often occurs when parents realize that their child may have a lifelong disability such as downs syndrome. In our current day and age, we realize that although downs syndrome can limit the ability of individuals with the disorder.
However, these individuals are able to have long fulfilling lives and terminating a pregnancy due to this disorder is a form of genocide. Increased scientific knowledge (thanks to the writing of many college research papers by scientists) has also resulted in the ability of parents to predict the sex of their child early on in the pregnancy. this provides parents with the ability to terminate the pregnancy if it is not the sex they wanted. This gender selection is immoral and is often used in foreign countries in which patriarchal countries where women are looked down upon. Those who take into account moral reasons may believe in a woman’s right to have an abortion but not in the case of a child having downs syndrome.
Legal concerns around the topic of abortion revolve around the fact that the Supreme Court ruled in Roe versus Wade that it is unconstitutional to deny a woman’s right to have an abortion. They deemed that abortions are protected rights which every woman has the right to make.
“But in the four decades since Roe, the U. S. Supreme Court has come to recognize the abortion right as an equality right as well as a liberty right” (Siegel, 2013 pg. 160).
A woman’s right to make decisions over her body not only make her equal to men but also are a basic freedom that she should have. Those who take into account legal factors will state that despite personal opinion every woman has been given the right by the highest law of the land to make their own decision. They would argue that as long as an individual follows the laws set forth in each state about when a woman can have an abortion they are legally in their right to do so. Those who take into account legal reasons believe in a woman’s right to choose in any situation. For example, the Texas restrictive abortion laws obey the letter of the law but place undue burdens on women seeking to terminate their pregnancy.
No end in sight for legal and ethical debates
Few people believe in just the religious, moral or legal factors regarding an issue. Their views are often influenced by a combination of these factors (much like the ethical debate of online essay services). Therefore it is important to understand all of the various arguments that are contributed to the discussion. Both sides of the abortion debate need to be able to understand and take into account the views of the other side. By doing so they can better inform their own argument. Individuals may also be swayed to the other side of the debate. Having the right to debate an issue is a fundamental right of living in our free society. However, this freedom does not give individuals the right to deny abortion or reproductive rights to women as many have. By understanding the basic tenets of freedom and liberty provided to us by our constitution those against abortion may see the errors of their ways.