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Is the law on abortion in this country in a satisfactory state at present?

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Introduction

Is the law on abortion in this country in a satisfactory state at present? An abortion is the ending of a pregnancy before the foetus is developed enough to survive outside of the womb (viability). Abortion can be accidental (miscarriage) or deliberate (termination). The legal definition of 'Abortion' is the intentional destruction of the foetus in the womb, or any untimely delivery brought about with intent to cause the death of the foetus (William, textbook, 252) Medical definition is the removal or expulsion of the products of conception before, but after, the foetus is 'viable' (Butterworths Medical dictionary 2nd edn 1978) However, most people are referring to the medical termination of pregnancy when they talk about abortion. It is apparent that abortion is a medical procedure, but I intend to, in general look at the legal and ethical aspects of abortion. Abortion used to be a crime and in Ireland and some other countries it still is. Before the abortion act, totally unqualified people carried out a large number of 'back-street' abortions out each year. Performed in horrific conditions, these illegal abortions sometimes resulted in death. Thousands of women were permanently harmed with life-long infertility a frequent result. If this criteria is fulfilled the termination is lawful provided it is an authorised place however far the pregnancy has progressed. What people have to say about abortion often depends on what they believe about the status of the foetus: Is it or is it not a human being with rights? Those people who argue against abortion are "Pro-lifers". Those who believe that abortion is right in some circumstances are "Pro-choice" candidates. In England Scotland and Wales the Abortion act was passed in 1967 after the private members bill introduced by MP David Steel1 and amended in 1990.Under the abortion act 1967 a doctor is free to terminate a pregnancy providing 2 registered medical practitioners are of the opinion: (a) ...read more.

Middle

The court would not accept that it could ever be in some ones best interest not to exist, inconsistent with section 1(1)(d). Also in the recent conjoined twins13 case, the court of appeal rejected the finding of the family division of high court that Mary a weaker conjoined twin who was only sustained by her sisters blood flow and who would almost certainly die in a matter of months, 'had no continued interest in living'. Johnson J reasoned that Mary's state was 'pitiable' and, although it was impossible to know whether she was in pain, the thought that her stronger sister would start to move around dragging Mary behind her was 'horrendous'. Ward L.J. disagreed. He held that the weaker twins life did have a value to her, even though she had severely limited brain function and was incapable of crying expressing pleasure or pain. In this case then the courts have judged that even a few months of pitifully low quality of life to be preferable to non-existence. The second argument for disability abortion is the 'Replacement argument', it says babies should be able to be aborted for the good of society (it should be noted that within this argument a foetus has a low moral status), but also if a baby is aborted the mother must give birth to another to replace it. This argument fails, as how can mother be expected to give birth a second time after her first ordeal. The mother may simply not want another child. The final argument is the 'Parental interest argument', which justifies aborting a disabled baby, by giving reference to the interest of the biological parents, especially the woman. The strain of caring for disabled may be substantially more than non-disabled. This is seen by most academics as the best rationale for justifying Section 1(1)(d).14 This seems to be supported and in line with the Abortion act, which views disabled abortions as generally undesirable but permissible in exceptional circumstances. ...read more.

Conclusion

Wordcount 4,212 1Beyond control Medical law an abortion law S.Sheldon Pluto press London Chicago, Il pub 1997 p12 2 Planned parent hood of central Missouri v Danforth (1976) 428 n.s, 52, 63 Blackman J. 3 Grubb.A. (1990) Abortion law England: the Medicalization of a crime is law, medicine & health care No.5 1-2 spring-Summer, 14 pp6-61. 4 Medical law and ethics p116 5 Morgan, D (1992) 'Re S', 142 New Law Journal p 1448 6 Paton v British pregnancy advisory services trustees [1980] 3 EHRR 408 7 E.lie and J.Davey, Attitudes to abortion for the foetal abnormality (pro-choice) 1991 8 J. Murray cosmetic, Eugenics and Ambivalence: The revisions of the Abortion act 1967 (1991) J.S.W.F.L. 375. 9 D.Morgan, 'Abortion: The Unexamined Ground [1990] Crim. L.R. 687. 10 L.Gillian 'Prenatal Diagnosis and Discrimination against the disabled' (1999) 25 Journal of medical ethics 163. 11 R. Hursthouse, Beginning lives (Blackwell 1987) p69 12 J.Glover, causing death and saving lives (penguin 1977) p 146 13 Re A (Children) (Conjoined twins) [2000] 4 All ER 961 14 A.Grubb and I.Kennedy Principles of medical law (oxford University Press 1999) 15 M.Johnson 'Aborting defective foetuses: what will it do? (1990) Link disability journal (August/September) p 14 16 Matheson J says this, in the case Borowski v A-G of Canada and minister of finance of Canada (1984) DLR (4th) 112 at 131. 17 Bundesgesetzblatt (BGb1) 2, 1990, p885. 18 A Tuffs 'Germany: Abortion, the womans choice (1992) 340 Lancet p43. 19 H karcher 'Abortion Law diluted Again in Germany (1993) 306 BMJ 1566 20 Lifes Dominion R. Dworkin Argument about abortion and euthanasia (1993) p30 21 Werthiemer 'Understanding the Abortion Argument', p78 22 Daniel Callan, Abortion: law choice and morality new York (1970) 23 The New York review of books, October 25 1984. 24 Furedi, Ann. 1998: 'Wring but the right thing to do: public opinion and abortion', Lee E (Ed). Abortion law and politics today. Basingstoke Macmillan press. 25 Life's dominion p32 26 Polls 1993 27 Life's dominion p72 ...read more.

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