Right to Abortion: Pro-Choice Arguments
The promotion of gender equality provokes debates about the permissibility of early abortion. The controversy of the issue is primarily attributed to moral, health-related, and legal aspects of abortion. The Catholic Church clearly supports the pro-life position, stating that any threat to human life should be eliminated. Meanwhile, the proponents of the unrestricted access to abortion rights refer to the legal status of the medical procedure and necessity to ensure the well-being of women. The overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that women have the constitutional right to terminate pregnancy in its early stages for medical and social reasons in order to ensure happiness and social well-being of both mothers and family members.
Firstly, women have the legal right to abortion. In other words, the female population has the constitutional right to choose between the preservation and termination of pregnancy. In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States banned abortion restrictions, thereby officially legalizing the medical procedure. Roe v. Wade is an important decision of the Supreme Court which ruled that the mother and physician could make the abortion decision during the first trimester of pregnancy (Goldenberg, 2017). The state authority may prevent the termination of pregnancy only if the procedure poses a danger to women’s health or viability occurs (Goldenberg, 2017). The formation of personhood is the key concept that allows women to defend their abortion right under the Fourteenth Amendment. According to Goldberg (2017), the Supreme Court argues that the fetus cannot be considered a person before the occurrence of viability. Therefore, during the early stages of pregnancy, the rights of the fetus are inferior to mothers’ interests due to the absence of any danger to human life (Goldenberg, 2017). The assertion suggests that the state intervention without the immediate necessity to protect the potential life during the first trimester constitutes the infringement of women’s constitutional rights.
Secondly, women are free to exercise their abortion right in order to maintain their happiness. Some scholars argue that abortion may be a necessary step in ensuring the well-being of mothers, according to the utilitarian ideology. Utilitarianism states that “the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its utility in providing happiness or pleasure” (Kalita, 2012). Therefore, the philosophical idea may serve to justify the early termination of pregnancy in certain situations. Namely, abortion after a rape may be a rightful decision in the eyes of modern society. Children with criminal genes are likely to become the object of public condemnation due to the violent circumstances of their conception (Kalita, 2012). The woman and her child will face immense public pressure that may negatively influence their family life. However, abortion allows women to avoid the necessity to meet social expectations. In some other cases, the preservation of pregnancy may also adversely influence the lives of family members. For instance, bad financial conditions may compel mothers to terminate pregnancy since the lack of money would considerably reduce children’s chances for good education and healthy environment (Kalita, 2012). The example suggests that the necessity to maintain the social well-being of mothers and their families may justify early abortion. Women may choose to undergo the medical procedure if the alternative option threatens her social status and happiness of family members.
Thirdly, health-related reasons may necessitate medical abortion. The timely discovery of the disability of the future child may force mothers to terminate pregnancy. According to the available statistics, a wide range of malformations, including Down’s syndrome, spina bifida, anencephaly, Turner syndrome, and Klinefelter syndrome are frequent causes of early abortion (Patil, Dode & Ahhirao, 2014). Modern medical technologies may detect structural abnormalities at 18-20 weeks (Patil et al., 2014). Thus, mothers become aware of future difficulties that the birth of mentally or physically disabled children may cause. Several factors may convince women to terminate pregnancy under the above-mentioned circumstances. Firstly, raising children with disabilities is a burdensome task. It may require immense expenditures (Patil et al., 2014). Secondly, children with incurable diseases may suffer from pain and need lifelong treatment, creating additional problems for the whole family (Kalita, 2012). The observations suggest that early abortion may save a considerable amount of effort and resources. In this case, the medical termination of pregnancy appears to be the morally justified course of action.
At the same time, the debates focus on the religious aspects of the issue. Pro-life proponents frequently refer to the biblical teachings in order to present abortion as the act of murder. The Catholic Church strongly opposes abortion since the procedure “directly violates the divine commandment “You shall not kill” (Swartz et al., 2013). Thus, the clergy condemn any threat to human life. However, the Catholic Church failed to determine the precise moment when the human life begins (Swartz et al., 2013). The lack of this explanation has provoked heated debates about the time of viability. The advocates of the pro-choice position refer to the philosophical claims of Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic priest that lived in the 13th century. According to the famous scholar, the fetus does not exhibit any signs of human life until the twentieth week of pregnancy when it develops the rational thinking ability. It may be regarded as the potential human being only after the indicated period (Swartz et al., 2013). Consequently, Aquinas’s theological considerations about the beginning of personhood have ignited contemporary debates about the women’s right to abortion. They effectively dismantle the argument about the immorality of pregnancy termination. In conclusion, the constitutional provisions, medical practices, and utilitarian ideology justify the women’s right to abortion in the early stages of pregnancy in order to ensure the social well-being of females and their families. The above-mentioned assertions effectively negate the influence of the religious teachings that demand the protection of human life from any threat. The presented study offers useful insights into the ethical, social, and political implications of free abortion practice.
Goldenberg, D. (2017). The right to abortion: Expansion of the right to privacy through the Fourteenth Amendment. The Catholic Lawyer, 19(1), 36-57.
Kalita, T. (2012). The problem of abortion: A utilitarian discussion. Philosophy for Business, 74. Retrieved from http://www.isfp.co.uk/businesspathways/issue74.html
Patil, A. B., Dode P., & Ahirrao A. (2014). Medical ethics in abortion. Indian Journal of Clinical Practice, 25(6), 544-548.
Swartz, N. P., Itumeleng, O. O., Kumar, R., Segokgo, R., Mr. Wankie, & Jeelabdeen, A. (2013). Does abortion take a human life? Thomas Aquinas answers. Review of European Studies, 5(4), 88-98.