What is meant by the word abortion?

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What is meant by the word abortion?

Abortion: the termination of a pregnancy by artificial or chemical means


Abortion is ending the life of an unborn child or ‘foetus’ before it has had a chance to live.

Abortion used to be illegal in Britain; in some places it still is for example Ireland. But in most western countries the laws have changed. Since 1973 the law in the USA has said that a woman has the right to have her pregnancy ended in this way. She does not have to give any reason just that she wants it done.

         In Britain abortion used to be a crime under the offences against the person acts of 1861, in 1967 the Liberal MP David steel introduced a Bill into the House of Commons, which became the abortion act of 1967. This act was amended in 1990 and applies to the whole of the United Kingdom except for Northern Ireland

The Abortion Act

The law in the United Kingdom states that abortion can be performed up to the end of the twenty forth week of pregnancy if two doctors agree that:

  • To continue the pregnancy there would be risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman
  • Or to continue pregnancy there would be risk of injury to the physical or mental health of any existing children of the pregnant woman

However the law allows an abortion at any stage of the pregnancy if doctors agree that:

  • Continuing with the pregnancy would risk the life of the mother
  • If they agree that abortion is necessary to prevent permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman
  • If there is risk of the child being seriously handicapped

When does life begin?

A scientific view:

18 days after the conception, the baby’s heart begins to beat. At six weeks, Brain waves can be measured. At eight weeks the vital organs are functioning and fingerprints have formed. At nine weeks the unborn baby is able to feel pain, after the end of the second month the child has begun to look distinctly human.

By the time the baby is eleven weeks old he/she breathes (fluid) swallows, digests, sleeps, dreams, wakes, hears and feels pain babies born prematurely can survive outside the womb at 20- 25 weeks old.  

        Abortion is a moral issue, I am going to explore why it is a moral issue. A lot of people think that abortion is right in some circumstances e.g. if the woman was raped or the foetus is handicapped, but these only account for a small percent of abortions which are carried out. Other people believe that it is the woman’s right to choose to end her pregnancy as it is her life and her own body therefore her choice. People may argue that if abortion were not legal many women would have ‘back street abortions’ which are very dangerous operations by unqualified people, which could cause death.

        Other people may argue that abortion is wrong and many people see it as a form of contraception and take advantage of it, they may not see it as ending the life of a child on purpose, they may say that there isn’t enough evidence to show that the unborn foetus doesn’t suffer during these operations, and that life begins at conception. People also may have religious beliefs about abortion people may believe that you shouldn’t take a life that God has given, as every life is created and loved by God.

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        From this section I can conclude that there are many different issues surrounding abortion; religious, legal and moral issues. Abortion is a religious issue because different denominations of Christianity have different opinions; this is because the bible it interpreted differently in different denominations. It is a legal issue due to the 1967 abortion reform act, which made abortion legal under the condition that two doctors agree on it. It is a moral issue because people disagree on whether abortion is right or wrong, these include whether the foetus is handicapped or the circumstances the child could be brought up into


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