What Is Abortion? Essay

1897 words - 8 pages

Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy before birth. Early in a pregnancy, the fertilized egg that grows and develops is called an embryo. After three months of development, it is usually called a fetus. An abortion causes the embryo or fetus to die. In a spontaneous abortion, also called a miscarriage, the fetus passes from the woman's body. Spontaneous abortions may result from such natural causes as an abnormality in the embryo, a hormonal imbalance, a long-term disease, or some other disorder in the woman. In an induced abortion, the fetus is purposely removed from the woman's body. This article deals with induced abortion.Induced abortion has been a topic of dispute for hundreds of years. People disagree on two basic questions. One question is whether the law should permit a woman to have an abortion and, if so, under what circumstances. The other is whether the law should protect the unborn. Those who wish to legally limit or forbid abortion describe their position as "right-to-life" or "pro-life." Those who believe a woman should have the right to an abortion refer to themselves as "pro-choice."Arguments against abortion are generally based on the belief that an abortion is the unjustified killing of an unborn child. Most people who oppose abortion believe that human life begins as soon as a sperm fertilizes an egg. Some believe that human embryos and fetuses should have legal rights and that abortion is actually a form of murder. Many pro-life people believe that legalization of abortion increases the number of irresponsible pregnancies and leads to a disrespect for human life.The Roman Catholic Church is probably the leading opponent of abortion. Conservative branches of other religions also disapprove of abortion.Arguments for abortion. Many people would allow abortion under certain circumstances. Some approve of abortion if a woman's life or health is endangered by her pregnancy. Others find abortion permissible if medical tests predict that the child will be born with a serious mental or physical defect. Some people would permit abortion when a pregnancy has resulted from rape or incest. Others believe that a woman should have an unrestricted right to an abortion, especially before the fetus becomes viable--that is, capable of living outside the mother's body. Most fetuses become viable after the sixth month of the pregnancy.People who favor an unrestricted right to abortion during early pregnancy often separate human life from personhood. They argue that personhood includes an ability to experience self-consciousness and to be accepted as a member of a community. These people believe fetuses are not persons and thus should not be granted the rights given to persons. Such pro-choice thinkers consider birth the beginning of personhood.Another pro-choice argument is that legal abortion eliminates many of the illegal abortions performed by unskilled individuals under unsanitary conditions. These abortions cause many women permanent injury...

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