In what circumstances should abortion be permitted and why?
Abortion is undoubtedly a controversial issue in society. Currently, the laws on abortion in the UK are excessively limiting and do not respect the autonomy of an individual. The law is in need of reform and abortion should be permitted in many more circumstances
In the unfortunate case of rape, abortion should be available throughout the whole pregnancy, instead of the mere 24 weeks in the current state of the law. Rape is a painful and scarring experience. Disallowing abortion and forcing a woman to give birth would ruin the life of both the mother and the child. The mother would be reminded of the horrific incident every day, having a serious impact on their mental wellbeing. This will result in a detrimental effect on the child too. The mother is unable to care for the child due to her mental instability and this may result in neglect. The child will also suffer as a consequence and if they were to know the cause of their conception and the fact that their father is a criminal, psychological damage may be inevitable. By permitting abortion in all rape incidents, the individual is able to remove the product resulting from a crime and move on from the incident.
If a woman is unable to care for the child, abortion should be an option. For example, if a university student accidently becomes pregnant and is forced to care for the child as abortion wasn’t permitted. She would not possess the skills to be a competent mother and would also be unable to continue her education. This does not benefit anyone, the child would suffer from insufficient care and the mother would suffer as her career prospects may be irreversibly damaged. Ultimately, the economy would suffer as many highly skilled workers are removed from the labour market, and in an extreme scenario, overpopulation may occur, diminishing living standards. Disallowing abortion would only damage career prospects of women; therefore by disallowing abortion, society may become more male dominated and gender roles would be more rigidly and unfairly defined. This would increase inequality between the sexes, which is not right as all humans beings are born equal, men and women are both human beings, and therefore men and women are equal.
Some would that alternatives such as adoption are much more ‘moral’. However, morality is highly subjective and completely depends on the opinions of the individual. Valuing one person’s idea of morality over that of another is unjust. Therefore the value judgement of ‘abortion is morally wrong’ is invalid. Abortion is the more compassionate and empathetic option. When a child is born, the natural instinct of the mother is to care for and protect her child. Forcing the woman to give up the child is unnatural, inhumane and subjecting her to extreme emotional distress. All of these would be completely avoided by the termination of the pregnancy.
Many religions condemn abortion in all circumstances as it goes against natural law. From this point of view, all medical procedures, many of which life saving go against natural law. Does that mean that all medical procedures should be banned and that we should live in a primitive society purely governed by biological processes? This point of view is also outdated and no longer were irrelevant, religious doctrines written at a time when society was extremely male dominated, with rigid gender roles and when the modern form of abortion was not available. If influential religious figures were alive today, maybe they would think differently.
Ultimately, the choice of abortion should be completely left to the mother, the law and other third parties should not be able to interfere. This is the only way to respect the independence and free will of an individual. In the question, the mere idea of “permitting” abortion suggests a third party who has power over the body of another. Surely this should not be the case in the ‘free society’ which we claim to live in. Finally, laws limiting abortion mainly damage the career prospects of women, suggesting a sexist society which must not be tolerated in the 21st century.
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