Human Rights and Abortion

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The argument of abortion has been discussed over the last 30 years in the United States. During the Roe vs. Wade case in 1973, fetuses were declared to be nonliving “persons”. Simultaneously, women had the right to control their own body. This controversial subject has been continually argued over whether abortion should be illegal or legal. According to the dictionary, abortion is the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus. (Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary, 1999). There are three types of abortion; therapeutic, spontaneous, and elective. A therapeutic abortion may be done because it may implicate the mother’s health, or because tests show confirmation of deformity in the child. Spontaneous abortion would be a mother having a miscarriage. Elective abortion is anything that is not therapeutic or spontaneous.

Something is alive when it is able to take in food or nourishment, be able to excrete waste, ability to respond to stimuli, be able to grow, and the ability to maintain homeostasis. Having a beating heart, human body parts, and tissue layers does not make it a human being. None of these matter if it is not able to survive on its own away from the mother. A human life begins when the fetus is born. The difference between a fetus and newborn is that the newborn is part of the social world. Today, a mother is able to abort a fetus but cannot kill her newborn infant legally or morally. Stephen Schwarz claims in his book, there are only four differences between a fetus and a newborn baby. They are size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency (Schwarz, 1990).

Some say rationality, language, and self-awareness gives us moral status. But this would imply many human beings, like infants and severely disabled human beings would lack moral status. Sentience, the ability to feel, perceive or experience gives us moral status (Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary, 1999). Peter Singer’s example of a rock and a mouse. His example claims that animals have moral status because if you were to hit a rock, it would not feel pain. But if you were to hit a mouse, which is sentience, it would feel pain which means you have a moral obligation not to hit the mouse. The debate over abortion comes down to one key issue; the moral status of the unborn child. Individuals who are pro-abortion will claim that the growing fetus lacks a moral status that would overtake a woman’s wish to abort the child. Those who are against abortion argue by making the opposite claim, that an unborn child has a moral status because of its human existence.

Abortion can not only affect the fetus but also the mother carrying the fetus. It affects the mother both emotionally and physically. Studies have shown a statistically significant increase in premature births or low birth weight risk in women prior to induced abortions. (Alcron 2010). Low birth weight and premature births are the most important risk factors for infant mortality or later disabilities as well as for lower cognitive abilities and greater behavioral patterns. There is a higher risk for infant mortality for those mothers who have had abortions in the past. Also, mothers who have had abortions in the past, whether it be spontaneous, therapeutic or elective, have a higher chance of having an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is when gestation occurs outside the uterus, most often it occurs in a fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies can be fatal for both mother and baby.

Abortion is a controversial topic that is universally discussed with valuable, moral positions on both sides. I believe Abortion should be legal for numerous reasons. We live in a world where a lot of rape and abuse takes place. These women who suffer from rape may end up pregnant without a choice. I believe if you’re a victim of rape and end up getting pregnant, you should be able to abort if you desire. Many teens make mistakes and end up pregnant because they do not have the knowledge or are not aware of the consequences of their actions but who are we to decide that they need to support that baby. I believe women should have power over their body, no one should say or have control over it.

If a teen becomes pregnant they may lose their education because they’ll have to get a job to be able to support their baby. She would probably be kicked out of her family home and required to get a job, which most of the time is a minimum wage job. If she decides to abort, she would most likely suffer physically and emotionally but would not have to deal with those issues. Having an abortion would also make her more aware of her actions and she would learn from her mistakes. A girls’ result from this experience would be maturation and growth, rather than repression.

About 14,000 victims of rape and abuse get abortions. Imagine if abortion was illegal, all 14,000 would be born and we already have limited amount of resources. Abortions, in a strange way, are beneficial to the planet. A woman who is impregnated by a rapist may not want to have the child. Even though abortion may seem immortal, I believe it should maintain legal because it can be the best solution for a lot of women. At the end of the day, it is the woman’s life that would be affected not anybody else’s. 

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Human rights and abortion. (2021, Oct 12). Retrieved April 23, 2024 , from

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