Recently, we have discussed the problem of drug legalization, an important issue in the health treatment industry. Now we are going to talk about women and their right to take responsibility for their bodies. We will discuss legalization of abortion.
Induced abortion, contraception and sterilization are the modern forms of medical intervention into the reproductive ability of a human being. In the 20th century it became quite widespread and took place against the backdrop of fundamental changes in moral evaluation and legal status. In the beginning of the 21st century the issue of the legalization of abortion is still under discussion of experts and citizens. There are a lot of demonstrations and meetings in the Parliament. The severity of the problems in discussing abortion is getting sharper, despite the fact that the problem is “as old as world”.
The right of a woman to have an abortion is one of the first and fundamental ethical and medical issues that are still relevant today. This is due to the fact that the abortion issue concentrates on the human relations at the level of moral, legal, socio-political, religious, scientific consciousness. Having considered the issue of abortion in each of these levels, you can answer the question why it is the main and fundamental problem of modern biomedical ethics. To read more – click here!
In the ancient Greece, the word “abortion” did not mean an awful moral crime. Under the influence of Christian morality and the laws in 15th-17th centuries abortion as a medical operation virtually disappeared from a medical practice. It gains popularity in 1852 after a bitter struggle of Medical Academy in Paris, under the pressure of blatant female and mortality statistics for cesarean delivery. Abortion again took place in a number of obstetric operations in the cases of anatomical narrowing of the pelvises of pregnant women.
Following this, medical science started to assert other medical indications for induced abortion, especially when pregnancy endangers the mother’s life. Death penalty for the abortion starts being expelled from the legislation of the European states, retaining the status of the crime “against life, family and public morality.”
Why Was It Legalized?
Most researchers believe that the main reason for legalizing abortion is artificial – it is a massive “epidemic” increase in the number of abortions, which in adverse conditions carried off a great number of lives. This point of view has its own basis, but there are still some drawbacks.
Its logic is similar to the judgment that if the pathology becomes widespread, it should become “the norm”. In addition, this view assumes the following question: what are the reasons that push women to do that? Responding to it, for a long time we believed that the increase in the number of induced abortions is stimulated by the economic reasons, that is by difficult living conditions and poverty. However, these arguments are not relevant. The statistics shows a nearly equal number of abortions among the poor and low-income families.
So, do not forget to learn some statistics for your essay.
Arguments: For and Against
Liberal abortion justification is based on several principles. The first is a woman’s right to control her own body. The second is the denial of the personal status of the fetus. The first principle, “a woman’s right to control her own body”, won a place in European culture, but with some difficulties. Its first line – the so-called medical indications for abortion – implies specific medical cases, such as anatomical narrowing of a pelvis or fetal hydrocephalus (brain edema), when the birth of a child puts a mother’s life at risk. Gradually, medical indications became more various. They began to refer to heart disease, kidney disease, tuberculosis, mental diseases, hereditary diseases, etc. So, this right is based on the human rights, and is a moral autonomy in terms of sex and childbearing.
The second problem concerns woman’s personal beliefs and values. Does she think that a human being inside of her is just a biological object? It is up to the person.
The Professional Look
In the beginning of the 20th century, there was a very influential socio-political approach to the issue of miscarriage. J. Lieberman in 1914 stated: “Give women equal status with men in society and promote respect for their identity, destroy the contempt for an illegitimate mother and her children, create conditions for the existence of all births, recognize the right of maternity and keep it. Provide every mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding with everything she needs – and there will be no need for criminal repression to preserve the population growth and public morality … and then comes the blissful time when doctors would not have to resort to it (with the rare exceptions) for this purpose”.
If the legislation in Europe and America, prohibiting the practice of medical abortion up to the first half of the 20th century, was formed under the influence of moral and religious establishment, the current legislation, which has abortion under the protection of law, has a liberal ideology as a base.
Legalization of the discussed medical procedure, like a lesser evil, has been promoted for a very long time. Clandestine abortion is a serious threat to the health and life of a woman, so the abortion legalization may save the life of many grown people who are already aware of such responsibility.
There are also more explicit arguments in favor of abortion: that is when we have demographic policy tools as a negative attitude to abortion. According to the opinion of some scientists, it generates a complex problem of birth control. So, it can be argued that the legislative practice of different countries with respect to abortion is very diverse – from a total ban to an easy permission. However, in real life it cannot be organically combined with each of the fundamental principles of bioethics – the principle of body autonomy and well-known moral rules that still prevail in society. They are very difficult to be mix.