A Discursive Essay on Abortion
1st November 2001
English Coursework Assignment No.1
A Discursive Essay on Abortion
In this discursive assignment I am going to examine the topic of abortion. The Oxford English Dictionary defines this as: “An operation or other procedure to terminate pregnancy before the foetus is viable.” The topic of Abortion causes much conflict between people and I will be examining both sides of the argument before reaching my own conclusion.
Many people don’t understand exactly what abortion is. In the UK abortion became illegal in the nineteenth century. The penalty for carrying out an abortion became life imprisonment. This did not deter many women. They used many things from poisonous drugs to knitting needles to rid themselves of an unwanted pregnancy. Many people became aware of the number of women suffering and dying because of an unwanted pregnancy. Protests resulted in a Reform Bill relating to abortion which was put into practice on the 27th of April 1968. It made abortions legal under twenty four weeks of pregnancy. It is illegal for an abortion to take place if the mother is over twenty-four weeks pregnant because it is thought that the baby can survive on its own from this time on. Since 1967 there have been twenty unsuccessful attempts at banning abortion. Recent polls say that over 80% of adults are in favour of Abortion.
Many people who argue for abortions agree that with or without the law, it will still happen. Desperate women will go to all sorts of measures to get an abortion. People who fight for abortion argue that it is safer to allow abortions to be legal, this way, women can get the treatment they need safely.
This is a preview of the whole essay
Another view is that if a woman is ill with child she should be able to abort the pregnancy. Many believe that if a mother is ill, has been raped or knows that the baby will have no quality of life they should be able to have an abortion. Some women who are disgraced in their family’s views argue that their prime concern for requesting a termination was for the potential child. How can a mother bring a child into this world when she knows she will not love or care for it? In1991 nearly 90% of all the 163,000 who had an abortion did so on the grounds that it would be detrimental to their physical or mental health.
There are many factors why women have abortions. One of these is that the pregnancy was unexpected. Contraception is widely available but it is not yet 100% reliable; in fact no method is 100% reliable. Other factors as to why women need or have abortions are, she may be too young or too old, there is some conflict as to how old a woman can be to have a child. Others include, the mother may be single and has no income, she has no home, or there may be a hereditary disease in her or her parent’s family. Some women terminate their pregnancy because of AIDS and HIV. Mothers are scared this may be passed in to their babies.
Research indicates that abortion is very safe. In fact carrying on with an unwanted pregnancy can cause more long-term stress and suffering than abortion can. A refused abortion can cause the mother to feel hate towards the child. It has been estimated that one hundred thousand women a year die from illegal abortions in countries where it is illegal. An estimated two million women have illegal abortions a year, those that don’t die could be left with permanent injuries which may not allow the women to have further pregnancies in the future.
Many people believe that from conception to birth the foetus is part of the mothers body and she therefore has complete jurisdiction over it. Therefore, some argue she should be able to have the right to terminate it from any time between conception and birth. These people do not believe in the 24-week law and may try to terminate a baby after this deadline. At the minute, in courts, fathers do not have say in whether or not the mother of his child has an abortion or not. In 1987, British courts ruled against a father who was trying to stop his wife from having an abortion. In Norway, a Robert Herzc is trying to get rights for fathers in the European Court of Human Rights.
The religious view on abortion is very mixed. No religion actively supports abortion but some allow it. The Church of England and the Church of Scotland teach that abortion is wrong except in extreme circumstances such as serious risk to the mother’s health and life. They especially disapprove of abortion when the mother is doing it for selfish reasons such as saying her career is more important. Hindu and Judaism are more or less the same. They believe that life begins at the moment of birth, yet they still discourage abortion. Islam is a little more lenient. They also teach that abortion should only occur in extreme conditions but they do allow it if the mother was raped. The Free Churches believe abortion is down to the mother – she has a right to decide. The only church that rule abortion is completely wrong is the Roman Catholic Church. They believe the baby gains a soul at conception and that abortion is morally evil. They do not allow abortion under any circumstances, even including the probable death of the mother. Through all of this, women from every religion continue to terminate pregnancies.
Many people’s view is that women should, instead of obtaining an abortion, should seek an adoption as soon as the child is born. People think this because, their view is that abortion is a waste of a life. People who try to adopt usually do so because of health reasons. Views are that adoptive parents can have a baby from its time of birth; if a woman has an abortion rather then opting for an adoption, perspective adoptive parents will have to wait much longer.
Many believe that a baby is a human with rights from the point of conception, this means that many people believe from the point when the zygote is formed, that the baby is a human being. These people believe that abortion is murder and should not be legal and should not be carried out. They believe that if an abortion is carried out it should be treated as a murder and the mother should be given a prison sentence.
There are also less significant views, such as, having an abortion can break down relationships, cause depression and tear families apart. Having an abortion could be seen as an obstacle in a relationship, the two don’t know what to say to each other or how to react. It could break up a family by going against others wishes; it can happen that half the family wants the baby and the other half don’t. This leaves the mother very confused and lonely. Depression is seen as a more serious case, mothers can become depressed by changes in the body, she could feel guilty and following a termination she could feel like a piece of her has gone.
In conclusion, after considering all of the evidence, I agree with abortion. I see it as a life changing decision, which can solve many problems. If abortion was made illegal, hundreds of women would die trying to solve the ‘problem’ of an unwanted child by themselves. It would also cause a raped mother to have the baby, which could lead to her hating the child, because it reminds her everyday of her dreadful ordeal. Some women would die if they continued with the pregnancy and need to have the option of terminating the pregnancy available to them. Not having an abortion could also lead to a severely handicapped child being born with no chance of surviving. In my opinion legal abortion should be an available choice for a pregnant women. However, it is probably one of the most difficult and heart rending decisions that a female will ever have to make in her life. A decision which should not be taken lightly. I don’t class a baby as a living, human being until it is born and so I don’t see abortion as murder.
Word Total = 1,412
The Abortion Resource Handbook – K.Kaufmann
Abortion: law, choice and Morality – D.Callahan
Abortion – L.Lawrence
Abortion – K.Kent