Approximately 42 million legal abortions are performed every year all over the world. Guttmacher Institute state three major reasons why a pregnancy is terminated: the pregnancy as a result of rape, the pregnancy as hazardous to the woman’s health, and economic or social reasons like the pregnancy being unplanned or inconvenient (Henshaw, et.al). Some countries have laws that totally prohibit abortion, while most countries have laws that allow abortion only up to an extent. Ninety-eight percent of the 193 countries of the world allow abortion to save the woman’s life; the percentage declines as the reason becomes more and more liberal (“Unsafe Abortion” 3).
Abortion, even until today, is one of the most controversial and sensitive issues; countries that legalize abortion receive opposition from pro-life groups; countries that prohibit abortion receive opposition from pro-choice groups. Even when hundreds of debates, articles, documentaries, and movies have been made to disseminate information by both sides, abortion and how it should be handled is still discussed.
One argument of those supporting abortion is the right of the woman to choose. A woman should have the ability to have control of her body and to take away her reproductive choice is seen as a blow to her civil rights. As a free person, every woman should have the freedom to decide what is good for her physically, psychologically, and economically. For example, women who got pregnant because of rape or incest would suffer psychologically if they were forced to continue the pregnancy, give birth, and raise the result of this violent act.
In the case of teenage pregnancies, girls who get pregnant in their teens are more likely to leave school, resulting in fewer chances of finding good jobs with higher salaries, thus, limiting their ability to live a comfortable life where they could provide all the needs of their child as well as their own.
It should also be noted that a study made by the World Health Organization concluded that while abortion rates are similar, it is also safe in countries where it is legal and dangerous in countries where it is not legal (Rosenthal, A8). This shows a woman’s decision to have an abortion is not influenced by the law but the safety or the danger of the act is.
On the other hand, those opposing abortion claim that all life is precious, and that life starts at conception. Abortion, clearly, defies the idea of the sanctity of human life; it is, in a way, murder. No civilized society accepts murder without punishment and abortion should not be any different.
Abortion also causes stress and traumatizes the woman; the act itself would cause depression and guilt that may lead to personal development and relationship problems. The effects of the emotions brought about by the abortion will not only be felt by the woman but also the people who care about her.
An unwanted pregnancy may prove to be wanted later if the pregnancy is continued; the woman may want to raise her child. If the woman, however, does not want to raise the child, adoption is an alternative to abortion; this way, the woman will not be inconvenienced and her life will return to the way it was before pregnancy but still give the baby its right to life.
While the arguments opposing abortion have valid points, I believe that abortion is an issue that has many facets and cannot be answered by a simple right or wrong.
For instance, should a woman continue with her pregnancy if it is dangerous to her own life as is the case of women with heart problems? If all life is sacred, shouldn’t the life of the mother, a fully formed and functioning human life, be more important than that of a fertilized ovum?
We can never know ahead of time the outcome of our actions. What will traumatize the woman more? Will it be the abortion and the depression and guilt that might result from it or the childbirth and the changes she will need to make in her life by continuing the pregnancy? Will she be able to provide for her child’s needs if she does not have a job, or a husband, or any other family? Will she be able to live her life as she had planned and still raise a child?
Abortion is a moral issue that touches a chord in every country, religion, and institution. While the arguments of both sides have valid points, I believe that there can be no black and white answers in this subject. Only one thing seems to be the common thought: the human life is sacred. Regardless of religion, race, social status, gender, or age, this is the one thing that most people, those supporting and opposing abortion, agree on. The line only blurs when we try to decide whose life is more important – the unborn child or the mother.
The fact that 98% of countries legalize abortion when it is a danger to the woman’s life shows that there has to be a concession. If the reason for abortion is that it is unplanned or inconvenient, abortion is not the answer; we all have to be responsible and should face the consequences of our action. If, however, the reason for abortion is that it is dangerous to the woman’s life, we should choose to honor and protect the life that is already there.
World Health Organization. Unsafe Abortion. 6th ed. Geneva, Switzerland, 2011. Print
Rosenthal, Elizabeth. “Legal or Not, Abortion Rates Compare.” New York Times. 12 Oct. 2007: A8. Print.
Henshaw, Stanley and Kathryn Kost. Trends in the Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions. Guttmacher Institute. Aug. 2008. Web. 25 Aug 2011.
Lowen, Linda. 10 Abortion Arguments:10 Arguments For Abortion, 10 Arguments Againts Abortion. Web. 25 Aug 2011.