Abortion: Legal and Ethical Perspectives

The fact that the abortion controversy has lingered in the public domain for decades is a testament to how important it is to society. Since the Supreme Court's landmark Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, the legal and ethical aspects of abortion have dominated the debate. I assume that focusing on the legal and ethical aspects of abortion leads to an unfair bias in judgment because many people overlook the medical and psychological consequences of abortions. People sometimes dismiss it as a minor problem, but it turns out to be crucial. While some women feel relieved after going through an abortion, negative psychological effects are also common and range from regret to depression. Thus, consideration of such factors is important when discussing legitimacy and moral appropriateness of abortion. Events that preceded the pregnancy are also important to consider in this context. A woman impregnated by a rapist should always have an option to terminate the pregnancy. In general, it should be the woman’s choice whether or not to undertake the abortion. After all, they are the biggest stakeholder in the abortion debate.

The case in point set by Roe vs. Wade in 1973 should be referenced when discussing legitimacy of abortion. It is subject to varying levels of regulation in the second and third trimesters. In my opinion, this is enough confirmation for abortions to gain legal status in the United States. The basis for the ruling, which is the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, is an aspect that most opponents of legalized abortion ignore. I believe that the right to privacy should not be interfered with, and any attempts to impede on it are a violation of the supreme law of the land.

The most controversial aspect of the abortion debate has to be the issue of conception. It is a subject that elicits varied responses particularly in regard to the biological and philosophical perspective. The Roe vs. Wade ruling overruled the argument that a fetus has fundamental human rights by stating that life begins at birth. Opponents of abortion fault this perspective by using modern science to argue that life starts when the fetus develops a heartbeat which happens early in the first trimester. Philosophers will base their argument on the period when personhood actually starts. I find both perspectives intriguing but still maintain the opinion that mother’s opinion on the issue is paramount. We cannot disregard her rights and perpetuate those of the unborn child. This is why the ruling’s argument on the fundamental rights of the mother is currently relevant. The fact that most people are blinded by moral and religious biases to realize that it is responsible for most anti-abortion sentiments. The only reasonable argument I find against abortion is regulation of the practice in the latter trimesters. At this point the pregnancy is already at an advanced stage and abortion could possibly lead to the loss of two lives. For this reason, limitation of abortion in such circumstances when the mother’s life is in grave danger makes perfect sense.

For me the history of the abortion debate is a great example of the evolution of human society. The need for population control takes roots back in the years as evidenced by the racial quotas. Abortions were outlawed in the United States until around 40 years ago. Imposing anti-abortion laws on women is, in my opinion, an illegal attempt to control their lives. Women still proceeded to abort pregnancies during that period of time, though health risks were very high. The fact that over 10 percent of maternal deaths were associated with dangerous abortions proved that it was an issue that had to be discussed in the public sphere in order to stop the escalating death toll due to unsafe abortion practices. I find it interesting that some pro-abortion activists went as far as undergoing abortions themselves in the fight for mothers’ rights.

In conclusion, I am positive that restructuring of the Supreme Court to a more conservative number of members will bring back abortion as a national issue. With such Supreme Court abortions will be further reduced thus denying mothers their fundamental right to privacy. The anti-abortion sentiments are still common in the mainstream media, but all perspectives should be considered before making a decision on the issue. The rights of an unborn human being are important, but they should not prevail at the expense of the mother’s rights.

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