Moral Issues with Abortions
Since the beginning of time, abortion was outlawed. All religions forbid their believers to participate in this cold boot. The 20th century legalized abortion and brought them to cohort of family planning methods. The appearance of alternative means of birth control in the second half of the 20th century and changing cultural traditions of the world community sharpened the question of moral evaluation procedure of induced abortion. Nowadays, abortion is widespread as it never was before.
Therefore, the issue of abortion is, at the moment, one of the most important, requiring urgent solutions. The discussion on morality and ethics of abortions is involved representatives of various disciplines - biologists, theologians, and philosophers. In addition, all these people are committed to a particular ideology or philosophy. No wonder, therefore, that dramatic confrontation and clash of different positions, views, attitudes, evaluations, opinions are currently deployed around this problem. However, with all the variety of points of view on this issue, one can find three general areas.
First, the so-called “liberal” point of view: until a natural birth of a child, a woman has the right to decide on abortion, and doctors are obliged to ensure the realization of this right (Marquis 401). Unborn fetus is not recognized in any sense as an individual human, and, therefore, a member of the moral community. The right to life is not subjected to the unborn fetus, and it does not have the quality that would oblige others to refrain from actions ceasing its existence (Marquis 401). This position is basically followed by the most emancipated women. Second point of view is exactly the opposite of the first one. Abortion cannot have moral justification since it is seen as a direct intentional killing. From the moment of conception, an embryo is seen as a person, to which it is necessary to give the bulk of human rights - especially the right to life (Marquis 401). Finally, the moderate position argues on the gradual animation of the embryo and its acquisition of human personal properties in the development process from conception to birth (Tupa 2). This latter position is most contradictory and confusing since different representatives offer a variety of criteria in order to determine development time, after which a human embryo gets the status of an individual and becomes the subject of moral relations. Interestingly, none of the criteria (or a certain set of such) does not provide a basis to build on its logical definition of the moral status of the embryo. One group of people indicates the period of 40 days for boys and 80 for girls. Others do not distinguish between genders and indicate the period from 40 to 80 days (Marquis 402). These positions unexpectedly “resonate” with the current law on abortion adopted in several countries, often allowing abortion in the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy.
With respect to the problem of abortion, position of the Catholic Church is very clear: no abortion can be justified. In all cases, abortion is evil, even if it sometimes seems that it reduces the evil. The main reason for such a position is unconditional respect for any human being. To approve an abortion - means to recognize that there are two categories of people: those who have a right to life, and those who can be killed. A characteristic feature of the position of the Catholic Church is the availability of official documents on this issue. In particular, the Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the official position of Catholic Church on the abortion issue. What is indicative, the section defining the Church’s attitude toward abortion is situated in the Chapter concerning Ten Amendments. In particular, in the Amendment five – “you shall not kill.” Thus, the conclusion is undoubted – Catholic Church is strongly against induced abortions. Here, according to the mentioned above, one can say that Church reckon the second opinion on the issue. In support to this argument: item 2270 says “from the first moments of existence human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person;” item 2271 also claims that abortion is a moral evil and contrary to the moral law. Thus, religious argument is that the human fetus is created in the image and likeness of God and according to his will; and it is He who disposes the life of His creatures.
In addition to the strong negative attitude towards abortion in the aspect of religion, there are other reasons against this issue. For example, opponents of abortions claim that a civilized society should not allow impunity causing intentional harm of one person to another, and especially not tolerate loss of life and that such abortion is not the deprivation of life.
From the medical viewpoint, abortion can lead to serious complications, which in the future may make it impossible conception and motherhood, abortion increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, as well as misbirth and inflammatory diseases of the pelvis (Tupa 5). Concerning the victims of rape or incest, medical measures made in time ensure that a woman will not become pregnant. Another argument is that women, who defend their right to full control over their own bodies, should take care of this control before pregnancy – to protect, use contraceptives, or if it is impossible refrain from intimacy (Marquis 401).
Even the most restrictive religious system, including Catholic Church, the most stringent abortion opponents agree that, at least in some cases that the mother’s desire, health and life should be respected (Saad 7). Examples: mother is seriously ill; the development of the pregnancy threatens both her and her child’s life. Development of pregnancy in such diseases is clearly associated with complications that can lead to death. Another example may be addicted mother since the substance abuse during pregnancy may lead to inborn addiction of a child or serious health problem that will not allow a child to grow as a full-fledged member of society. If the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, majority of churches agree that, in this case, it is permissible to have an abortion since rape make a lot of harm for woman’s psychological state and a woman may be too shocked to perform necessary measure in order to prevent unexpected pregnancy (Tupa 2).
Arguments for abortion proceed from the understanding of man, not as an animal and not as a biological entity. It is known that a newborn child has no man mentality. He/she cannot have the psyche since the majority of neurons in the brain do not have its developed network of dendrites, so, they are not connected. Psyche, as such, does not exist. This is a powerful argument to say that being born - is not a man, as we understand that it is not a person (Marquis 403). However, this argument is not convincing. After all, when people say that killing is bad, they do not have in mind that bad is killing only a thinking person. Is it good to kill dogs? If one says that killing is bad, is it mean that we extinguish consciousness? No, this is more about that a person hurts another person. Furthermore, the fact that the fetus in the womb can feel pain is significantly proved (Marquis 406). Thus, the question is whether the killing of the fetus is killing human or it is compatible with animal murder (Liao 8). Such an approach, of course, only makes sense for those who do not consider the fetus created by the God’s will.
From the physiological viewpoint in clinical practice, doctors very often have to deal with the complications of abortion and women’s ability fertility. Pregnancy is a normal physiological state of a female body, which in the first hours after fertilization tunes for gestation, birth and infant feeding. As a result of abortion, these subtle mechanisms are grossly violated, that always brings harm to women’s health, often irreversible.
At surgical abortion, uterine walls are scrubbed with the help of special loop-like knife. The inner surface of the uterus is injured and after, the healing process is replaced by scar tissue. Embryo implantation in subsequent pregnancies will be complicated - it is one of the causes of infertility. Abortion is more likely to develop post-abortion inflammation of the uterus inflammation of the peritoneum of the pelvis and sepsis. Abortion violates subtle hormonal processes in the body. At this, ovarian function is suffering, which often causes prolonged menstrual irregularities and even infertility. Abortion has long-term effects, the main of which is a cancer. The most commonly encountered cancer-related diseases are breast cancer (due to hormonal disorders of the organism), cervical cancer, thyroid cancer and malignant tumor in the abdominal cavity (Tupa 5). There are other methods of abortion like vacuum aspiration and medical abortion, which are said to be soft ones. However, there is still danger for woman’s health in case abortion is made with these “soft” methods (Tupa 5).
On the other hand, the repository of the fetus is of highly importance. Most women, who want an abortion, consider the fetus in the womb as a foreign object, as a kind of tumor that must be removed. The vast majority of them do not want to treat an embryo as a person. It is their desire being the most important thing. Can one say that a woman’s desire is irrelevant? No, of course, she is an individual, she is a person, her desire is to be respected, and it has the right to dispose of her body. However, loyal to abortions people can say nothing on how to be with the right to self-consciousness of the embryo, his right of happiness and its right to life. Usually, they say that since fetus cannot know about his future and personality, then it cannot be a self-conscious individual. Thus, if there is no self-actualization, then the concept of consensus is not applicable.
When they say that a woman has the right to dispose of her body - it does not cause any objections. However, abortion rights automatically mean that someone has a duty to make them (Marquis 402). A woman makes a choice, but also doctors, in this situation, should make their own choices. When a woman chooses to get rid of the fetus, she not only is responsible for her own choice, but also rests the responsibility on a doctor. This is an important argument against abortion since by performing an abortion, a doctor performs alien for his functions. Doctors, who do this every day, are in a terrible position earning a living by killing embryos, who for many doctors are unborn individuals.
It is obvious that one cannot confidently assert that abortion is an unforgivable act. However, it is clear that this is an unforgettable event. Abortion causes chaos in psychological state of a woman and disturbs future family life (Liao 12). A woman who lost a child, no matter what period of pregnancy it may happen, never be the same. Although the main effect from abortion falls on a woman, but also it is necessary to remember about the mental and emotional state of the whole family.
Sometimes abortion brings temporary relief for the problems in unstable relationships between parents, in economic situations, low self-esteem, etc., but it is absolutely without result in the long term (Marquis 408). People usually make decisions, believing that they have no other choice or not the desired choice. The taken decision can bring temporary relief, as well as any attempt to escape from reality. However, there are lots of women, who sincerely regret an abortion. In addition, as it was said earlier, abortion lives in memory for the rest of life and at least once in life a woman comes back to what she did.
In conclusion, an issue of abortion is ‘open’ in the sense that the opened (i.e. unresolved) remains a question of morally worthy ways of solving it. It is not just a violation of generally accepted moral canons, but the absence of such rules. Instead of the latter, we have only the problem field, born of the confrontation between two opposing points of view. However, the arguments for abortions do not seem convincing. Thus, together with strong opposition of Catholic Church to induced abortion without extreme necessity abortion is unethical and should be treated as cold-blooded murder.