① The Importance Of Legalizing Abortion

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The Importance Of Legalizing Abortion



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Abortion: The legal and social barriers for women worldwide - DW Stories

Many people believe that abortion is essentially a moral issue, concerning the beginning of human personhood , rights of the fetus , and bodily integrity. The debate has become a political and legal issue in some countries with anti-abortion campaigners seeking to enact, maintain and expand anti-abortion laws , while abortion-rights campaigners seek to repeal or ease such laws while expanding access to abortion. Abortion laws vary considerably between jurisdictions, ranging from outright prohibition of the procedure to public funding of abortion. The availability of safe abortion also varies across the world. In ancient times, issues such as abortion and infanticide were evaluated within the contexts of family planning , gender selection, population control, and the property rights of the patriarch.

Discussion of the putative personhood of the fetus may be complicated by the current legal status of children. Like children or minors in the U. Ireland, although this treatment was amended by the Abortion Act of in England, Scotland and Wales. Many of the terms used in the debate are seen as political framing : terms used to validate one's own stance while invalidating the opposition's. However, these terms do not always reflect a political view or fall along a binary; in one Public Religion Research Institute poll, seven in ten Americans described themselves as "pro-choice" while almost two-thirds described themselves as "pro-life".

Appeals are often made in the abortion debate to the rights of the fetus , pregnant woman, or other parties. Such appeals can generate confusion if the type of rights is not specified whether civil , natural , or otherwise or if it is simply assumed that the right appealed to takes precedence over all other competing rights an example of begging the question. The appropriate terms with which to designate the human organism prior to birth are also debated. The medical terms " embryo " and " fetus " are seen by some anti-abortion advocates as dehumanizing , [17] [18] while everyday terms such as "baby" or "child" are viewed as sentimental by some abortion rights advocates.

The use of the term "baby" to describe the unborn human organism is seen by some scholars as part of an effort to assign the organism agency. This assignation of agency functions to further the construction of fetal personhood. Anti-abortion activists occasionally use the term the "Silent Holocaust" in reference to the number of abortions that have been performed in the United States since There is abundant debate regarding the extent of abortion regulation. Some abortion rights advocates argue that it should be illegal for governments to regulate abortion any more than other medical practices. Even though the right to privacy is not explicitly stated in many constitutions of sovereign nations, many people see it as foundational to a functioning democracy. In general the right to privacy can be found to rest on the provisions of habeas corpus , which first found official expression under Henry II in 11th century England, but has precedent in Anglo-Saxon law.

This provision guarantees the right to freedom from arbitrary government interference, as well as due process of law. This conception of the right to privacy is operant in all countries which have adopted English common law through Acts of Reception. The Law of the United States rests on English common law by this means. Time has stated that the issue of bodily privacy is "the core" of the abortion debate. Traditionally, American courts have located the right to privacy in the Fourth Amendment , Ninth Amendment , Fourteenth Amendment , as well as the penumbra of the Bill of Rights. The landmark decision Roe v Wade relied on the 14th Amendment, which guarantees that federal rights shall be applied equally to all persons born in the United States.

The 14th Amendment has given rise to the doctrine of Substantive due process , which is said to guarantee various privacy rights, including the right to bodily integrity. In Canada, the courts have located privacy rights in the security of persons clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7 of that charter echoes language used in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , which also guarantees security of persons.

While governments are allowed to invade the privacy of their citizens in some cases, they are expected to protect privacy in all cases lacking a compelling state interest. In the US, the compelling state interest test has been developed in accordance with the standards of strict scrutiny. In Roe v Wade , the Court decided that the state has an "important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life" from the point of viability on, but that prior to viability, the woman's fundamental rights are more compelling than that of the state. Roe v. Wade struck down state laws banning abortion in Over 20 cases have addressed abortion law in the United States , all of which upheld Roe v.

Since Roe , abortion has been legal throughout the country, but states have placed varying regulations on it, from requiring parental involvement in a minor's abortion to restricting late-term abortions. Legal criticisms of the Roe decision address many points, among them are several suggesting that it is an overreach of judicial powers, [29] or that it was not properly based on the Constitution, [30] or that it is an example of judicial activism and that it should be overturned so that abortion law can be decided by legislatures. Candidates competing for the Democratic nomination for the Presidential election cited Gonzales v.

Carhart as judicial activism. Where, in the performance of its judicial duties, the Court decides a case in such a way as to resolve the sort of intensely divisive controversy reflected in Roe and those rare, comparable cases, its [ U. It is the dimension present whenever the Court's interpretation of the Constitution calls the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution [ W]hatever the premises of opposition may be, only the most convincing justification under accepted standards of precedent could suffice to demonstrate that a later decision overruling the first was anything but a surrender to political pressure and an unjustified repudiation of the principle on which the Court staked its authority in the first instance.

Quite to the contrary, by foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish [over abortion]. With R v. Relying on the security of person clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , the court stated that while the state has an interest in protecting the fetus "at some point", this interest cannot override that of the pregnant woman because: "the right to security of the person of a pregnant woman was infringed more than was required to achieve the objective of protecting the fetus, and the means were not reasonable.

Laws also exist which are intended to prevent anti-abortion activists from interfering with staff and patient access to hospitals and clinics, for instance by creating buffer zones around them. Because the courts did not specifically establish abortion as a right, Parliament has leave to legislate on this aspect of the matter; and in , the Progressive Conservative government attempted to do just that. A bill was introduced that would allow abortion only if two doctors certified that the woman's health was in danger.

This bill passed the House of Commons but was defeated by a tie vote in the Senate. Although the courts have not ruled on the question of fetal personhood, the question has been raised in two cases, Tremblay v. Daigle and R. Both cases relied on the born alive rule , inherited from English common law, to determine that the fetus was not a person at law.

Two further cases are notable: Dobson Litigation Guardian of v. China has a free abortion policy but for the reason of complying with the one child policy now two child policy. In December , the Argentina Senate passed a bill to legalize abortion. Also in , Constitutional court ended almost all legal abortion in Poland. Abortion rights advocates argue that illegalization of abortion increases the incidence of unsafe abortions , as the availability of professional abortion services decreases, and leads to increased maternal mortality. According to a global study collaboratively conducted by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute , most unsafe abortions occur where abortion is illegal. The effect on crime of legalized abortion is a subject of controversy, with proponents of the theory generally arguing that "unwanted children" are more likely to become criminals and that an inverse correlation is observed between the availability of abortion and subsequent crime.

Economist George Akerlof has argued that the legalization of abortion in the United States contributed to a declining sense of paternal duty among biological fathers and to a decline in shotgun weddings , even when women chose childbirth over abortion, and thus to an increase rather than a decrease in the rate of children born to unwed mothers. If "personhood" is acquired, opinions differ about when this happens. Traditionally, the concept of personhood entailed the soul , a metaphysical concept referring to a non-corporeal or extra-corporeal dimension of human being. Today, the concepts of subjectivity and intersubjectivity , personhood , mind , and self have come to encompass a number of aspects of human being previously considered the domain of the "soul".

Since the zygote is genetically identical to the embryo, the fully formed fetus, and the baby, the notion of acquired personhood could lead to an instance of the Sorites paradox , also known as the paradox of the heap. Related issues attached to the question of the beginning of human personhood include the legal status, bodily integrity, and subjectivity of the pregnant woman [47] and the philosophical concept of "natality" i.

In the US judgment Roe v Wade , the opinion of the justices included the following statement:. We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.

The existence and implications of fetal pain are part of a larger debate about abortion. A multidisciplinary systematic review in JAMA in the area of fetal development found that a fetus is unlikely to feel pain until after the sixth month of pregnancy. The JAMA review concluded that data from dozens of medical reports and studies indicate that fetuses are unlikely to feel pain until the third trimester of pregnancy. Because pain can involve sensory, emotional and cognitive factors, leaving it "impossible to know" when painful experiences are perceived, even if it is known when thalamocortical connections are established.

Wendy Savage—press officer, Doctors for a Woman's Choice on Abortion—considers the question to be irrelevant. In a letter to the British Medical Journal , [58] she noted that the majority of surgical abortions in Britain were performed under general anesthesia which affects the fetus, and considers the discussion "to be unhelpful to women and to the scientific debate. Anesthesia is administered directly to fetuses only while they are undergoing surgery. Although the two main sides of the abortion debate tend to agree that a human fetus is biologically and genetically human that is, of the human species , they often differ in their view on whether or not a human fetus is, in any of various ways, a person. Anti-abortion supporters argue that abortion is morally wrong on the basis that a fetus is an innocent human person [60] or because a fetus is a potential life that will, in most cases, develop into a fully functional human being.

Others reject this position by drawing a distinction between human being and human person , arguing that while the fetus is innocent and biologically human , it is not a person with a right to life. For example, Mary Ann Warren suggests consciousness at least the capacity to feel pain , reasoning , self-motivation, the ability to communicate , and self-awareness. Warren concludes that as the fetus satisfies only one criterion, consciousness and this only after it becomes susceptible to pain , [64] the fetus is not a person and abortion is therefore morally permissible. Other philosophers apply similar criteria, concluding that a fetus lacks a right to life because it lacks brain waves or higher brain function, [65] self-consciousness, [66] rationality, [67] and autonomy.

Critics of this typically argue that some of the proposed criteria for personhood would disqualify two classes of born human beings — reversibly comatose patients, and human infants — from having a right to life, since they, like fetuses, are not self-conscious, do not communicate, and so on. Warren concedes that infants are not "persons" by her proposed criteria, [72] and on that basis she and others, including the moral philosopher Peter Singer , conclude that infanticide could be morally acceptable under some circumstances for example if the infant is severely disabled [73] or in order to save the lives of several other infants. An alternative approach is to base personhood or the right to life on a being's natural or inherent capacities.

On this approach, a being essentially has a right to life if it has a natural capacity to develop the relevant psychological features; and, since human beings do have this natural capacity, they essentially have a right to life beginning at conception or whenever they come into existence. Philosophers such as Aquinas use the concept of individuation. They argue that abortion is not permissible from the point at which individual human identity is realized.

Anthony Kenny argues that this can be derived from everyday beliefs and language and one can legitimately say "if my mother had had an abortion six months into her pregnancy, she would have killed me" then one can reasonably infer that at six months the "me" in question would have been an existing person with a valid claim to life. Since division of the zygote into twins through the process of monozygotic twinning can occur until the fourteenth day of pregnancy, Kenny argues that individual identity is obtained at this point and thus abortion is not permissible after two weeks.

An argument first presented by Judith Jarvis Thomson states that even if the fetus is a person and has a right to life, abortion is morally permissible because a woman has a right to control her own body and its life-support functions. Thomson's variant of this argument draws an analogy between forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy and forcing a person to allow his body to be used to maintain blood homeostasis as a dialysis machine is used for another person suffering from kidney failure.

It is argued that just as it would be permissible to "unplug" and thereby cause the death of the person who is using one's kidneys, so it is permissible to abort the fetus who similarly, it is said, has no right to use one's body's life-support functions against one's will. Critics of this argument generally argue that there are morally relevant disanalogies between abortion and the kidney failure scenario. For example, it is argued that the fetus is the woman's child as opposed to a mere stranger; [83] that abortion kills the fetus rather than merely letting it die; [84] and that in the case of pregnancy arising from voluntary intercourse, the woman has either tacitly consented to the fetus using her body, [85] or has a duty to allow it to use her body since she herself is responsible for its need to use her body.

Alternative scenarios have been put forth as more accurate and realistic representations of the moral issues present in abortion. John Noonan proposes the scenario of a family who was found to be liable for frostbite finger loss suffered by a dinner guest whom they refused to allow to stay overnight, although it was very cold outside and the guest showed signs of being sick. It is argued that just as it would not be permissible to refuse temporary accommodation for the guest to protect him from physical harm, it would not be permissible to refuse temporary accommodation of a fetus.

Other critics claim that there is a difference between artificial and extraordinary means of preservation, such as medical treatment, kidney dialysis, and blood transfusions, and normal and natural means of preservation, such as gestation, childbirth, and breastfeeding. They argue that if a baby was born into an environment in which there was no replacement available for her mother's breast milk, and the baby would either breastfeed or starve, the mother would have to allow the baby to breastfeed. But the mother would never have to give the baby a blood transfusion, no matter what the circumstances were. The difference between breastfeeding in that scenario and blood transfusions is the difference between using one's body as a kidney dialysis machine, and gestation and childbirth.

Margaret Sanger wrote: "No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother. Some activists and academics, such as Andrea Smith , argue that the criminalization of abortion furthers the marginalization of oppressed groups such as poor women and women of color. Research has been conducted exploring whether banning abortion actually reduces abortion rates. Researchers from the Guttmacher Institute, the World Health Organization, and the University of Massachusetts concluded that, in countries where abortions were restricted, the number of unintended pregnancies increased and the proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion also increased. Table: Rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion, and proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion, by legal status of abortion for years — Even where abortions are illegal, some do take place.

However, they are generally done unsafely, both because the need for secrecy tends to be more important than the woman's safety, and due to the lack of training and experience the doctor performing the abortion. When done correctly by properly trained doctors, abortion is generally safe. Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy by removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus before it can survive outside the uterus.

An abortion that occurs without intervention is known as a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. The book Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation presents the argument that abortion involves unjust discrimination against the unborn. According to this argument, those who deny that fetuses have a right to life do not value all human life, but instead, select arbitrary characteristics such as particular levels of physical or psychological development as giving some human beings more value or rights than others. In contrast, philosophers who define the right to life by reference to particular levels of physical or psychological development typically maintain that such characteristics are morally relevant, [99] and reject the assumption that all human life necessarily has value or that membership in the species Homo sapiens is in itself morally relevant.

The argument of deprivation states that abortion is morally wrong because it deprives the fetus of a valuable future. Criticism of this line of reasoning follows several threads. Some reject the argument on grounds relating to personal identity , holding that the fetus is not the same entity as the adult into which it will develop, and thus that the fetus does not have a "future like ours" in the required sense. Some anti-abortion supporters argue that if there is uncertainty as to whether the fetus has a right to life, then having an abortion is equivalent to consciously taking the risk of killing another. The sanctity of life. All religions revere life. It is because we believe in the sanctity of all human life that we are sensitive to the effects of an unwanted pregnancy on women and families.

We pray for a world in which every child is wanted, loved, and cared for. Because we believe in the sanctity of human life that we believe a child has the right to enter the world wanted and loved. Because we believe in the sanctity of human life we are sensitive to the effects of an unwanted pregnancy upon individual women, upon their loved ones and their families, and we recognize that they, not we, must determine what is best for those directly concerned and involved. The Bible places full responsibility for procreation in the hands of parents.

Requiring a woman to complete a pregnancy against her will devalues motherhood and shows lack of respect for women. Religious Liberty. Religious Americans honor the dignity and value of all human life but recognize that different religious traditions hold a variety of views regarding when life begins and when ensoulment occurs. In this nation all are free to live according to their consciences and religious beliefs.

No one religious philosophy should govern the law for all Americans. In conclusion, being pro-choice is not being pro-abortion. Bishop Melvin Talbert of the United Methodist Church put it this way in a sermon: "In reality, there are many of us who believe that choice is the most logical and the most responsible position any religious institution can take on this issue. My sisters and brothers, we are dealing with something that is deeply spiritual and cannot be left to those who would choose to politicize this issue and further victimize those who must ultimately decide for themselves.

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