Abortion debate

This is one of the most hotly contested topics in today’ssociety. Abortion is one of those issues which polarises opinion and many people have strong feelings for or against this subject which in some cases has led to violence.

If you are considering an abortion then you are probably all too aware of the issues surrounding this which comes down to the question of whether it is right or not to terminate a pregnancy.

People adopt different viewpoints on this which include:

  • Abortion is wrong whatever the reasons
  • Abortion is permissible if the woman’s life is at risk
  • Abortion is acceptable for a variety of reasons

Your opinion on whether abortion is acceptable or not very much depends upon your set of values. If you feel that it is a woman’s right to choose then you are likely to favour the ‘pro-choice’stance.

But if you argue that the foetus has rights and should be treated the same as any other human being then you will adopt the ‘pro-life’stance.

As you might imagine this is not a black and white issue and involves many complex legal, moral, philosophical and religious factors. These all influence how someone views this subject.

Basically, this issue can be divided into the two viewpoints:

Plus there is argument for ‘father’s rights’in which men claim that they should have an equal say in the matter.

Pro and anti-abortion and father’s rightsare discussed in more detail within this section.

Another form of abortion which attracts a great deal of controversy is that of ‘selective abortion’. This is a form of abortion which is performed as the baby is considered ‘unacceptable’ in some way. One such example is ‘sex selection’, practised by certain cultures who display a marked preference for boy babies over girl babies.

Selective abortion is also discussed in more detail within this section of the guide.

This section adopts a neutral and non-judgemental approach to this issue and sets out the facts as they are given. Both sides of the argument are presented which aims to show a fair and balanced view of this debate.

Before we look at the arguments for and against abortion here is a brief introduction to the abortion debate.

Arguments about abortion

The abortion debate rests on two moral questions:

  • Should we ban abortion or allow it (or in certain circumstances)?
  • Should abortion be considered morally wrong?

These two questions tend to divide public opinion. People are either for or against abortion and have strong reasons for their conviction. These two questions may, on the face of things, appear straightforward but they are more complex than you realise.

For example, if you argue that abortion is permissible then you might add the proviso that it is only acceptable in certain cases.

In other words, every abortion case should be judged on its individual merit. Abortion may be the only solution in one case but not in another.

Conversely, you might take the view that abortion is morally wrong, but, that it some cases it is the lesser of two evils. That it is better than the alternatives.

These issues divide people into the ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ camps.

A reason why people do feel strongly about abortion is that the foetus has no say in the matter. For many people, the foetus is an innocent being, a ‘silent victim’ and is unable to consent or oppose an abortion.

Religion plays a big part in the abortion debate but there are non-religious arguments which include the following:

  • Do we consider the foetus to be a human being?
  • Who decides if a being has a right to life?
  • Does a foetus have a right to life?
  • Is a foetus part of the mother or a separate being?
  • If the foetus is a being with a right to life then does this take precedence over the mother’s rights? These include her right to control her own body.
  • If the foetus is an innocent being then is it ever acceptable to terminate that life? Are there circumstances where it s acceptable to do so or is it never justifiable?
  • If the mother’s health or life is in danger during her pregnancy then does this take precedence over the rights of the foetus?
  • Is it the right of the foetus to be carried in the womb until the moment of birth?

These are some of the most contentious issues in the abortion debate.

The rights and wrongs of these are discussed further in this section.

We have already mentioned that the abortion debate involves many complex ethical, moral, religious and philosophical issues. Then there are the numerous medical and legal issues as well. This is why it is one of the most difficult decisions to make.

This decision can be difficult for couples and their doctors as well. If one or both of you has strong objections to abortion, for example on moral grounds then it can leave you in an impossible position.

In order to make things easier we have put together a couple of sections which discuss abortion from the pro and anti stances. This may help you to make up your mind about abortion and whether your conscience will allow you to go ahead.

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