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Free essay example:
A. i. What is mean by the word “abortion”?
ii. What Biblical and Church teachings might be used in a
discussion about abortion?
B. Explain how Christians might put their beliefs about
abortion into action
C. “Abortion is never justified”
Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and
show that you’ve thought about different points of view.
You must refer to Christianity in your answer?
My Aims………........................................................... pg 2
Part A: Section 1………………….………................... pg 3
Part A: Section 2.……………………........................... pg 5
Part B……………………………….............................. pg 7
Part C………………………………….......................... pg 9
Aims for the end of this project!
During this project I aim to study the topic of abortion. Firstly I aim to show you all the different perspectives of the “abortion argument” giving points for both sides of the argument of abortion un-biased and the personal, social and worldwide issues that are attached to it. I aim to give as much information on abortion as I can, including my personal thoughts of the issue.
Secondly I will aim to display how the differences of opinion can influence our community and our beliefs. Also how many people have been debating over this issue for years and have still not been able to come up with agreeable terms on both sides.
What is meant by the word abortion?
An abortion is the premature removal of the embryo or foetus from the uterus, resulting in or caused by the foetus’s death. It can happen naturally as a spontaneous abortion also know as a miscarriage, due to accidental trauma or natural causes. It can be induced by medical or surgical, for example:
Therapeutic abortion: An abortion performed either...
- to save the life of the pregnant woman
- to preserve the woman’s physical or mental health
- to terminate pregnancy that would result in a child born with a medical disorder
- to reduce the number of foetuses to reduce health risks that come with multiple pregnancies.
An abortion is usually used as a means emergency contraception. "Abortion" can refer to an induced procedure at any point during pregnancy; it’s a miscarriage or induced termination before the point of viability. The abortion debate asks whether it can be morally right to terminate a pregnancy before normal childbirth.
The abortion law:
Some people think that abortion is always wrong, some think abortion is right when the mother's life is at risk, and others think that there is a range of circumstances where an abortion is morally acceptable.
Technically the law doesn’t legalise abortions, but give a legal defence for those having them. Abortions can legally be performed under certain conditions, like if continuing with the pregnancy involves a bigger risk to the physical or mental health of the woman, or her existing children, than having a termination. The woman's actual or probable future environment may be taken into account.
Abortion up to 24 weeks is also allowed if there is a large risk that the child when born would suffer physical or mental defects so bad that they would be seriously handicapped. An abortion must be agreed by two doctors, one in an emergency, and it is to be performed by a doctor in a government-approved hospital or clinic.
Abortion has been legal in Britain since 1967. In 1974 119,000 legal abortions were carried out in England and Wales. By 1995 this figure had risen to 154,000.
“Back street abortions”
Before abortions became illegal, women across the world went to extreme lengths terminate the abortions themselves or others, these were called “back street abortions”. They are unhygienic, almost always done by an untrained practitioner, uses inappropriate methods and/or has very poor after care in inadequate caring quarters if any at all. They are done by using old surgical methods such as: injecting poisonous solutions into the mothers womb or inserting objects intended to free the foetus from the womb lining.
Many women would use methods of self-induced abortion include taking remedies to induce labour naturally, e.g. herbal remedies or poisons aimed to bring on a miscarriage. Some of these methods are harmless, but also have no effect, others work more effectively, but can be extremely dangerous to the woman.
Some people resort to inflicting physical abuse: falling down stairs, physical harm to the belly, jumping from heights. This is usually used when they cannot find any other way to end their unwanted pregnancy. This is extremely risky for the woman and is often not effective in ending the pregnancy.
When does life begin?
There is a problem with the time limit to when abortions should be allowed. At the moment it is at the point of viability, 24 weeks, but everyone has different views on when life begins:
Conception - The group of cells present after conception being the process of development by dividing many times.
1 month - Heart pumping since 18th day. The beginnings of eyes, spinal cord and nerves, lungs, stomach, intestines, liver and kidneys.
2 months - Arms and legs become distinct and tiny fingers and toes appear. All internal organs of an adult, at various stages of development, are present. The first bone stages begin to be formed.
3 months - Development continues . The mother may feel the foetus kicking as it flexes its muscles. The heartbeat can be detected. The foetus now looks clearly like a human baby.
4 months - The head has distinct human features and may have hair. The skin is pink and the bones are closing to form joints
5 months - developing very rapidly and very active
6 months eyes may now open. All systems are formed and are just growing in size.
7 - 9 months - grows in size and fat is deposited to help survival at birth
Biblical and Church teachings about abortion
The sanctity of life:
The word sanctity means purity or holiness. When it is used to describe life it states the idea of the most precious thing. When it is used to describe life it expresses the idea of the most precious thing. In the first chapter of Genesis it says that life was created by God, and that all human beings were made in his image. The taking of another person's life is a sin against God.
Christians believe that life is a gift from God. The purpose of life is to serve God and so we must treat all people as equal, as they are all in the image of God.
The Christian church teaches that life is a sacred gift from God and so should be cherished and respected, every life is seen as Gods creation. The bible tells us:
That God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created both male and female.
Agape expresses the spiritual love of God for his people. It is an unconditional love and concern for others. Agape is a love that accepts everyone for who they are, a selfless love.
Christian teachings on abortion are very complicated because there are no actual teachings about abortion, although there are many references that refer to the sanctity of life and are a guideline to the bibles thoughts on abortion, they outline what Christians should think about before terminating a pregnancy.
Any early Christian document disapproves of it:
“You shall not kill by abortion the fruit of the womb.”
The Bible say that life begins when the baby is in the mother's womb so the removal of the baby would be seen as murder:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.”
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”
None of the Christian Churches believe that abortion should be encouraged and most agree that it should only be used in the most serious of circumstances. The Roman Catholic Church believes it is never justified.
The Roman Catholic Church strongly disagrees with abortion in every instance, although it accepts that a pregnancy may end as the result of a necessary medical treatment given to a woman, so its called the double effect. The Roman Catholic teaches that the foetus is a human being from the moment of conception, and that its rights to life are as equal to that of the mother's and any other human being, this is based on two theories:
- Ensoulment: In the 13th century it was argued that the male foetus becomes a human being at 40 days and the female at 90 days after conception.
- Quickening: The time that the baby first moves in the womb. It is supported by the experience of John the Baptist's mother Elizabeth:
“When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The Pope declared that Catholics shouldn’t have abortions. He believes life begins at the point of conception. Other Churches such as the Anglican Church, believe that although abortion shouldn’t be encouraged, but feel under certain circumstances it can be justified. The Church of England spoke out in 1993 against the rising number of abortions in Britain but left the final decision up to the people involved.
How Christians might put their beliefs about
abortion into action!
All Christians see the question of abortion as a moral issue, its either right or wrong, it has become so hard to make find a law that everyone will be happy with because of differences in opinion. All Christians are guided by a belief in the sanctity of life, it is a sort of guide to how Christians should view life. This means that many will believe having an abortion is wrong because life is seen as sacred. The only problem with the sanctity of life is that is does not specify when a life starts, at the point of conception, when the heart starts to beat, or maybe at birth.
The Roman Catholic view:
The Roman Catholic Church says that deliberately causing an abortion is a grave moral wrong. The Church says that the human life begins when the woman's egg is fertilised by a male sperm, at conception. They believe this because all the things that make us who we are, are laid down in the genetic code that comes into existence at the point of conception - the features that distinguish us, the colour of our eyes, the shape of our face, and many other important factors. They believe each new life that begins at this point is not a potential human being but a human being with potential.
The Church condemned abortion as early as the 2nd century: a document called the Didache, written in the 2nd century, states: "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish".
The Church of England view:
The Church of England encourages people to think through the issue of abortion very carefully and recognises that each individual will have different views on the subject. The Church of England shares the Roman Catholic view that abortion is 'gravely contrary to the moral law'. As this statement puts it:
In the light of our conviction that the foetus has the right to live and develop as a member of the human family, we see abortion, the termination of that life by the act of man, as a great moral evil. We do not believe that the right to life, as a right pertaining to persons, admits of no exceptions whatever; but the right of the innocent to life admits surely of few exceptions indeed.
Church of England Board of Social Responsibility, 1980
However this statement does accept that under some circumstances abortion’s are allowed. After concerns about the number of abortions in recent years, they went on to recognise:
That in situations where the continuance of a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother a termination of pregnancy may be justified and that there must be adequate and safe provision in our society for such situations.
General Synod, 1983
The Church of England is concerned about the number of abortions carried out each year in this country. They have consistently tried to narrow the grounds on which an abortion allowed to be carried out and have argued that the law has been taken too tolerantly ending in an unnecessary number of abortions.
e.g. The number of abortions carried out since the passage of the Abortion Act
1967 is unacceptably high.
Church of England General Synod, 1993
The Church of England is keen to make sure that as many abortions as possible are carried out as early as possible. However, in the exceptions of termination that has to be carried out after 24 weeks, it should only take place where there is a serious foetal disability and/or survival will be for a very short period of time.
Pro-life or Pro-choice?
There are now 2 sides to the argument, pro-life and pro-choice. They both promote their ideas through demonstrations and protests in the USA.
- Pro-life - the political and ethical view which argues that foetuses and embryos are human beings, and therefore have a right to be born, the right to have a life. One example is Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
- Pro-choice - the political and ethical view that argues that a woman should have complete control over her fertility and pregnancy, even if it means she wants to terminate the embryo or foetus. For example Abortion Law Reform Association. As only women can get pregnant, and therefore only women have abortions, a male legislator has no right to vote on an abortion-related law.
“Abortion is never justified!”
Some people are against abortion, and many of them are active in trying to promote practical solutions to the causes that drive women to abortion, some join pro-life campaigns and say “the right to life should always outweigh the right of an individual to equality or to control their own body“. Abortion is seen a way of side-stepping other real issues that should be addressed. Abortion can damage the long-term physical, emotional and/or mental health of women who has had an abortion.
They argue that abortion is morally wrong because they consider it as the murder of an unborn child, another human being with equal rights. Killing innocent human beings is wrong, they believe that the human life begins at conception therefore the foetus is an innocent human being and killing it is wrong so abortion is always wrong.
They consider the foetus as another person, it has a unique genetic code made at the point of conception so is a unique individual life from that point onwards.
Killing beings with 'a future like ours' is wrong. It is wrong to kill beings that would have a future if they lived. In most cases the foetus (if not aborted) would have had a future like ours, so it is wrong to kill a foetus and abortion is wrong (in some cases).
Causing pain is wrong. It is wrong to cause pain and suffering, even to a foetus. They are sufficiently developed to feel pain by 18 weeks therefore it is wrong to carry out an abortion after 18 weeks of pregnancy because the foetus will feel pain.
Increasing tolerance of killing is wrong, allowing abortion is legalising killing. legalising killing reduces everyone's respect for life. In extreme cases it may even lead to euthanasia, genocide and increased murder rates meaning abortion is wrong.
What women need is not free access to abortion but to be given what they need to financially and socially survive as mothers. Inexpensive, readily available childcare, a workplace/school that recognizes needs of mothers like flexible scheduling and maternity leave, support that helps add a woman into the workforce etc.
“There are women who are raped and become pregnant; the problem is that they were raped, not that they are pregnant.
There are women who are starving who become pregnant; the problem is that they are starving, not that they are pregnant.
There are women in abusive relationships who become pregnant; the problem is that they are in abusive relationships, not that they are pregnant.”
Abortion is not always considered wrong, they argue that abortion is not always morally wrong because the foetus is not necessarily a 'person' with the right to live. A
collection of human cells does not have the right to live just because it is of the human species, otherwise amputating a limb would be murder. A collection of human cells only has the right to live by certain facts like if it has reached a particular stage of development that makes it a moral 'person' or certain things that make it a moral 'person'.
It is not always wrong to end the life of an innocent person, there are many cases where we have to choose which of two innocent people will live and which will die like in conjoined twins, where the operation to separate them may cause one to die or a woman who has to abandon one of her children to save the other.
'Potential human beings' don't have rights only 'actual' human beings have rights. The pregnant woman has moral rights, under some circumstances these may overrule the foetus's right to live. These rights include:
- the right to ownership of her own body
- the right to decide her own future
- the right to take decisions without moral or legal interference from others
- the pregnant woman has the right to life - not aborting the foetus may put the mother's life or health in danger, she has the moral right to abort the foetus
The 'women's rights' arguments for abortion, it almost places a value on the lives and freedom of women but also accepting that it sometimes may be allowed to sacrifice the life of a foetus. This argument reminds us that even in the abortion debate we should see the woman as a person and not just as a carrier of a/the foetus. We should therefore give great consideration to her rights and needs as well as those of the unborn child. Pro-choice women's rights activists acknowledge that choosing an abortion is usually a case of choosing the least bad of several bad courses of action.
“All of women's aspirations--whether for education, work, or any form of self-determination--ultimately rest on their ability to decide whether and when to bear children.”
All women have a moral right to decide what to do with their bodies, including whether they wish to carry a baby or abort it. The right to abortion is vital for gender equality, some men think that they are superior to women and believe that there decisions over rule those of women, women carry the baby so they should have the final say.
It is important for individual women to achieve their full potential of their life, if they are forced to have the child and the mother is suffering because it was illegal to have an abortion they will regret having the child and might not love the child as much as they would in different circumstances. Banning abortion puts women at risk by forcing them to use illegal abortionists and could cause serious risk to the mothers life, if not resulting in death. It should also be part of pregnancy rights that allows women to make a free choice whether to end a pregnancy or not.
I back the pro-choice argument because I believe that the final decision should be that of the mothers. It is their body and they should have the last say on what would be they best for them. Each case is different and we should take into account peoples circumstances. For example a woman wanting an abortion because she accidentally fell pregnant, is much different to a woman who wants an abortion because the child she is carrying was conceived as a result of rape or will be born severely disabled.
I believe that the mothers say should be the last say. The foetus may be considered a human being or a “potential human being” (which ever you believe) but it still cant talk for its self. Parents all over the world make decisions for their babies and even if it turns out not to be the best decision, they still made it with their best intentions at heart. If no-one trusts the mothers decision to have an abortion as the best decision for them, why trust then t have a child at all, this would result in a very low birth rate!
I think that people should do all they can to lower the abortion rate but still listen to the mothers decisions. At the moment many mothers-to-be are aborting their pregnancies due a lack of support. If we had more services that specially targeted women who need social and/or financial support to be a mum, the number of abortions may go down meaning the government doesn’t need to spend as much money on free abortions but could spend it on ways to get the abortion rate down.
Although I agree with the pro-choice argument, I think the time limit should be lowered to 18 weeks. A pregnancy study shows that foetus’ may be able to feel pain at the 18 week stage. If an abortion is carried out beyond this point the foetus may be able to feel pain, this would mean we are harming the foetus. It has not yet been fully proved, studies are still being carried out.
I also think that the time limit should be lowered because at 24 weeks the foetus is viable, meaning if it were born it has a chance of surviving. The most premature child to survive is 23 weeks, so if someone were to have an abortion at that stage in their pregnancy, the unborn child may have been viable to live!
This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Abortion and other medical issues section.
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