What do most people mean when they talk about an abortion.
Doctors use the word ‘abortion’ to mean any death of a baby in the womb and its subsequent expulsion from the mother’s body. This sometimes happens of its own accord and is usually called a miscarriage. A miscarriage can be very upsetting to couples wanting a baby. However, it may be so early in pregnancy that the woman is not even sure that she has conceived.
It is thought that a great number of early pregnancies end this way. What most people mean when they talk about ‘an abortion’ is really a procured abortion. This is when the foetus of growing child is deliberately killed and removed from the womb.
The term for abortion really means the premature expulsion of the foetus from the womb. There is an operation to cause this. There are two types of Abortion. Natural and a miscarriage. Abortion has been seen as a controversial issue for hundreds of years. Many people believe too many people have abortions for reasons which are not enough to justify the ‘killing’ of a human being.
The ‘Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990’ was introduced in order that there was a time limit of 24 weeks for the termination of pregnancy as opposed to the previous limit of 28 weeks. For many centuries it was regarded as a serious crime to destroy a baby in its mother’s womb.
The law passed by Parliament in 1967 stated that a pregnancy could be terminated by a doctor, if two doctors agreed on the following conditions:
- That to carry out the pregnancy would involve greater risk to the life or the physical of mental health of the mother, or of her existing children than if she had it terminated.
- That there was a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer serious
physical or mental handicap.
Development of the Foetus:
25th Day - Heart beating
28th Day - Legs and arms begin to grow
6th week - Bones appear
7th week - Fingers, thumbs forming
10th week - Organs nearly formed
12th week - Vocal chords, sexual organs form
16th week - Half its birth length
5th month - Eyebrows, Eyelashes begin to form
Premature babies born as early as 25 weeks
Many people believe that too many women have abortions for reasons which are not just enough to justify the killing of a human being. Some people believe that a woman has the right to choose whether she will have an abortion or not, however, some believe this to be selfish.
Our right to choose is limited by the rights of other people. For example, if this ‘right to choose’ were applied to another situation it would not be appropriate. Very few people would say that an employer has the right to employ someone on the basis of their gender of the colour of their skin. Also, the woman is not the only on affected by an abortion. Family members and the father in particular, are greatly affected. It has been said that the woman is the only person who should decide whether she should continue the pregnancy or not and that the woman’s partner has no right to prevent her having an abortion. It can then be said that the woman then has no right to call on her partner for support and that both parents have the mutual right to abandon their responsibilities. There are many reasons why someone might contemplate an abortion. A lot of people think that abortion is okay in certain circumstances. For example if the woman has been raped or on the grounds of incest. But these type of circumstances only account for a very small percent of all abortions which are carried out. Some people believe that it is the woman’s right, her life, her body, her choice. Many people think that if abortion wasn’t legalised then it would force many women to go ‘underground’ and get dangerous operations done by unqualified people.
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Many young girls get abortions if they don’t feel that they are ready to be parents and that they have things like school to worry about. Many women get abortions simply because a baby is inconvenient or they might not have the money to support a baby.
Many women think that they would have to give up their job or education if they were to have a baby. But this is not true. There are laws which prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. Even though a woman may have to postpone some of her plans, the unborn’s right to live should take precedence over the mother’s right to a certain lifestyle.
Many people believe that too many women do not look hard enough to fined the possible solutions of the problems that arise with pregnancies. Parents must take more responsibility as the situation has only arisen because of the parent’s carelessness whilst having sexual intercourse. However many people do believe that there are circumstances and situation in which abortions are the best option. For example, if the child will have severe disabilities of if the continuation of the pregnancy will cause a high risk of severe injury to the mother of even death. Many people also believe that it is the right to terminate the life of one or more foetuses involved in a multiple pregnancy to preserve the life of the other foetuses. Some may argue that the law on abortion should not interfere with what goes on in the privacy of a woman’s womb.
However, many people also say that inside a woman’s womb , a human being is undergoing the process of growth and development is entitled to the protection of the law.
Biblical references to abortions are all but non existent, however there are a number of Biblical passages which refer to the sanctity (sacredness) of life.
The Biblical Teachings in both the Old and New Testament are all strongly against abortion.
In the Old Testament, there are a few Biblical passages against abortion. For instance,
‘Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness……..” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them and God said to them ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth………..”
This passage was taken from Genesis 1: 26-7. To me this is a very strong passage. It tells us how each and everyone of us is created in God’s image therefore we are all like him in some way. It then goes on to say that we should be fruitful and multiply, therefore we should be fertile and have children and not to try and get rid of babies by an Abortion.
Another Biblical passage from the Old Testament says,
‘Thou shalt not kill’.
This was taken from Exodus 20:13. It is a basis message. Having an abortion takes away an innocent life. It is the killing of a baby that hasn’t had a chance of life. Therefore if you have an abortion you are going against this because you are killing a life.
There is another strong Biblical passage in the Old Testament that say ‘Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore’? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you …. I can never forget you! I have written your name on the palms of my hands”. (Isaiah 49:15-16). For me the first sentence is asking how a woman can forget her own baby that she bore. If she can, then God will never forget you as he has your name written in the palms of his hands.
The New Testament is also strongly against abortion. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. (Mark 12:31). This passage is clear. You should love someone as you would wish to be loved. You treat someone well and you will get love in return. If you take away life by having an abortion then you are clearly not loving that innocent life and don’t deserve that love back.
Another passage from the New Testament says, “Do you not know that your are God’s temple and God’s spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple. God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy and that temple you are”. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). For mew this passage is saying that each and every life is part of God’s Temple and God’s spirit is inside you. If life is taken away by an abortion it destroys ‘God’s temple’ and God will destroy him because God’s temple is holy and you are part of it.
If a Christian was contemplating an abortion, there are several organisations where they can seek advice and have their questions answered.
The most important of these groups in the UK are:
- The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC)
Life concentrates its efforts on providing counselling and support for women who are pregnant or who think they might be. They also offer clothes for the newborn and housing. It is solely dependent on donations. Counselling is usually done through Parish Groups.
SPUC campaigns heavily for changes to the law by lobbying politicians, raising petitions to protect the unborn child and its activity in political parties and trade unions.
Both SPUC and LIFE provide educational material for use in schools and churches.
If a Christian was contemplating an abortion, the advice they would receive as a generalisation, is that Abortions are wrong.
At a time when a woman feels greatly under pressure, concerns about the future, possibly with a new life to care for can seem very daunting. Other than her doctor, there are a couple of charities where she might turn to for advice.
LIFE is a registered charity which provides a nationwide confidential care service for pregnant girls and women as well as for unsupported mothers. Its counsellors provide advice to help with a wide range of issues. This is usually done through Parish groups.
The second is SPUC (Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child). They provide a lot of educational material for use in schools and churches.
A Christian contemplating an abortion will be faced with a number of differing scenarios depending on their own circumstances surrounding the impact of a baby on their life and also any responses they might receive concerning their own church and its teachings on the subject.
A woman may have a number of reasons for terminating a child. The circumstances may be varied and complex:
- In a emergency to save the mother’s life
- To prevent grave permanent injury to the mother’s life
- Because the child may be handicapped
- Because of risk to the health of existing children in the family
- Because of risk to the mental or physical health of the mother.
If the woman was a Roman Catholic, any thought given to abortion would be totally against the Church teachings:
The Roman Catholic church teaches that deliberate procured abortion is a serious sin in all circumstances. In Catholic theology, human life is said to be at the moment of conception. From that moment it is sacred and everybody should try to protect it. The church believes that human life is sacred and everybody must recognise that fact. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception. Abortion and Infanticide are both abominable crimes.
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The Roman Catholic Church believes that, ‘We have been created by Almighty God in his own image and likeness’. No pregnancy is unplanned, because no baby can be conceived unless Almighty God intends that conception and has willed that particular unique and completely new person into existence. What has actually happened in our society is that clever arguments have convinced those with no anchor of belief in God to cling to, that merciless slaughter of unborn babies is morally justifiable, and even essential for the happiness of the individual and good of Society.
From a member of the Church of England’s viewpoint, she could consider it up to a point. The Church of England teaches that ‘the foetus is to be specially respected and protected'’ However, they do go on to say that '‘nonetheless, the life of the foetus is not absolutely sacrosanct if it endangers the life of the mother’.
The Church of Scotland teaches that ‘Abortion has no moral justification and represents the unwarranted destruction of human life that is made in the image of God’. However, this is only in ‘the great majority of cases’. I feel that they are advising the woman here that they are against abortion in the main however they would consider the circumstances.
The view of the Protestant churches is that abortion is generally undesirable, but that , it may be acceptable in some circumstances. It is not always clear what these circumstances may be, and perhaps for this reason a minority protestant group campaigns for greater emphasis on what they see as a woman’s right to make the decision to have an abortion.
As we can see turning to someone for advice concerning such a big issue can turn out to be a moral minefield depending on what faith you belong to. Although Christian teachings basically state that abortion is wrong, it is obviously very important that the woman has the right advice from the right people. There are of course differences in the various church teachings weighed up against the woman’s own personal set of circumstances.
Abortion is an important issue for Christians because human life is sacred. This means life is precious and that no one has the right to take life away, only God.
However, there are many arguments for and against Abortion. A common view on abortion is that feminists think that people should have the right to ask for and get an abortion up to the moment of birth with no questions asked. This position is usually called support for ‘Abortion on Demand’. Women have the right to control their own bodies. Women have the right to choose what to do for themselves.
Others accept that the foetus is a human being, but argue that if a baby is unwanted, it is like somebody who breaks into your house. Some people think that abortion should be allowed. But only up to he point at which the baby is capable of being born alive and surviving outside the womb. In some circumstances, however, they would argue that an abortion may be the most loving course of action/ Abortion may be the lesser of two evils. There are also those people who are pro-abortion because they have been raped or on the grounds of incest. If Abortion wasn’t legalised then many women would be forced to go ‘underground’ and get dangerous operations done by unqualified people.
However, too many women have abortions for the wrong reasons simply because the baby is inconvenient for them. When does Human life begin though. Some people argue that human life begins at conception therefore an abortion is absolutely wrong. Others agree that abortion is wrong but say that it should nonetheless still be legal.
The unborn child is a separate human being. It is never just part of a Mother’s body. By letting women have abortions, society is taking the easy way out. We should create a society where no child is unwanted. A foetus has a right not to be killed.
People with the most serious of handicaps can still lead a happy life. A foetus is a potential human being; one day it will be a person. Circumstances which may often justify an abortion are direct threats to the life or health of the mother.
I think that Abortion could be right in certain cases like rape, but I still think there are lots of other options available to the mother like Adoption or fostering. I believe that the law should be changed to prevent women from aborting just because they don’t feel that they want a baby or that it is the wrong timing and too inconvenient for them. I think that there should be far more information on other options when it comes to having a baby rather than abortion.
Society could do more in the way of contraception and education, and help single mothers by providing more counseling and places where they could seek advice. It this were the case, maybe abortion would not be necessary. I also think it important to perhaps bring down the number of weeks at which you can have an abortion to far less than it is now. With modern technology babies can survive being born earlier and earlier.
Abortions can also go very wrong and can leave terrible mental and physical scars.
Every aborted foetus is a potential human being, perhaps even a Beethoven or an Einstein!