Abortion as a Controversial Ethical Issue: Critical Essay

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With the development of science and technology, more and more ethical issues have arisen, such as cloning and euthanasia, and most of the issues have never been discussed in the past ethics. Many ethics are based on previous human life views and natural traditions. Modern science technology has changed people’s life views and natural traditions. If humans use past ethics as the standard, the conflict between past ethics and modern ethics is inevitable. The abortion issue is also an ethical problem brought about by modern technology. Although there were abortion techniques and examples in ancient times, the technique is not as safe and mature as it is now. Therefore, it is reasonable that abortion becomes a topic of contemporary debate.

Abortion is the act of deliberately ending a pregnancy, removing an embryo, or causing the death of the fetus. In different cultures, people have different views of abortion. In China, people generally do not discuss any bioethical aspects of abortion. Even many Confucian classics scarcely have views on abortion or have implicit views on abortion. But in many Western countries, abortion is a controversial behavior. People mainly talk about morality, religion, women’s rights, and other problems of it. In my opinion, abortion is allowable behavior, and it should not be restricted by anyone or the law.

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Firstly, everyone is born with the autonomy of the body. So, all people can control their bodies according to their own will, and no one else has the right to interfere. Also, people have their own choice to do something. For example, a person goes to a restaurant. The waiter cannot force the guest to choose what dishes because it is the right of the guest. So, everyone’s decision and choice should be respected. It is the same go for abortion. A famous philosopher, Judith Jarvis Thomson, made a thought experiment ‘the argument of violinist’. In his experiment, he supposed that there is a violinist infected with a strange disease and he needed a body of a person to provide nutrition for him. Then, the supporters of the violinist kidnapped a person and used the pipe to connect with the violinist to keep him alive. After nine months, the violinist will be cured. Although saving him is a noble thing, that person still can choose not to rescue the violinist because he has no responsibility to do it and no one will criticize him. Therefore, the fetus has the right to survive, but the mother has to right to induce abortion because mothers have the autonomy of the body.

Secondly, an unborn baby is not strictly a human being. In the United States, the conservative faction believes that abortion is a crime because it deprives the right to life of the fetus, and every person deserves a chance to live. This view is mainly influenced by Christianity. They think that although the fetus is in the mother’s body, it is the creation of God and cannot be destroyed. However, the fetus does not have a perfect function as a normal person does, and the right to human life cannot come from religious beliefs. Mary Anne Warren stated the five basic characteristics of human beings, which are consciousness, reasoning, self-motivated activity, the capacity to communicate, and the presence of self-concepts and self-awareness. And the fetus does not have any of these characteristics. Another famous philosopher, Peter Singer, proposed to seek new reasons for the right of human life from 'the level of self-consciousness development and rationality'. If we make a fair comparison between rationality, self-consciousness, and other moral-related characteristics, pigs and cows are ahead of the fetus at any stage of pregnancy. It is suggested that the value of fetal life is not greater than many other animals at a certain time. Therefore, if people induce abortion, it does not mean they take someone’s life, and women should not be condemned, even if they choose abortion in the last trimester.

However, anti-abortion groups believe that the legalization of abortion will also lead to a domino effect. If women induce abortion, anti-abortion groups are concerned that they will ignore others’ lives too. They believe the atrocities of the Nazi Party began with the legalization of abortion. In fact, their idea is absurd, since the legalization of abortion is impossible to cause the outbreak of the Second World War and outrage of the Nazi Party. They are caused by many factors, such as historical social background, political forms, and some individual behaviors. And the legalization of abortion is a small event in society, and there is no evidence showing that the legalization of abortion has a direct connection to the atrocities of the Nazi Party. Therefore, the domino effect of abortion can neglect life is untenable.

Many anti-abortion groups have another theory, that abortion endangers the health of the mother. Abortion will have harmful effects on women's physiology and psychology. This reason has attracted many unwise feminists, but its contradictions are obvious. With the improvement of medical levels, the risk of abortion has been reduced. We have no reason to doubt that pregnant women do not make rational considerations before making an abortion decision. Even if women do not have a clear understanding of the possible consequences of abortion, it is also the responsibility of the health sector and hospitals, which must not constitute an excuse for anti-abortion. Therefore, abortion will not bring serious negative effects on human health at all.

Many regions must legalize abortion. Sometimes, pregnancy is an accident that people are reluctant to accept, such as they are probably the victims of rapists. Also, many single mothers and couples did not plan to have children because they were not able to prepare well for a new life. For example, some of them have financial difficulty and they do not have good medical conditions to welcome new lives, even if they are born, they do not have the ability to raise them. So, they may tend to choose a cheap or remote clinic with low security or illegal medicine for abortion, so it is very dangerous for pregnant women. Thus, the legalization of abortion is a safe and helpful way to keep pregnant women away from illegal abortions.

More importantly, the legalization of abortion can reduce crime rates. In the article ‘The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime’, the authors stated that “when that cohort there will fewer young males in their highest-crime years, and thus less crime. More interesting and important is the possibility that children born after abortion legalization may on average have lower subsequent rates of criminality”. So, before the legalization of abortion, the juvenile crime rate is higher. It means that teenagers, especially those from single-parent poor families, may often lack education and care so they may much more easily commit crimes. After the legalization of abortion, many babies born is because their parents have the ability to give them good education and care. And the crime rate obviously drops. Since 1991, the United States has experienced the sharpest drop in murder rates since the end of Prohibition in 1933. Homicide rates have fallen more than 40 percent. Violent crime and property crime have each declined more than 30 percent. Therefore, the legalization of abortion is also very important to society.

Abortion also can eliminate gender discrimination. In society, everyone has the right to live in their own ways and meet their own needs, and people should respect the rights and needs of others because it is the most basic moral code. But people of different sexes and different backgrounds will have different ways to pursue happiness. If a woman cannot overcome the difficulties and challenges brought by pregnancy, then the issue of gender discrimination will exist, and society will never truly accept the concept of equality between men and women. Many people will always consider women as vulnerable groups.

Many companies in China hope the applicants can be male. This gender requirement is purposed because once a female employee becomes pregnant, she must receive maternity leave, which will cause loss and inconvenience to the company. For instance, I had an excellent middle school English teacher. In her class, there are many top English students. However, the English teacher was pregnant for one year and she had to ask for maternity leave. Then, the school took a long time to hire a retired English teacher to teach the class at a high salary. To eliminate gender discrimination and social prejudice completely, women must act. They have to deal with stress and challenges like men, instead of choosing to be mothers to avoid the social responsibility that men should bear. Every woman has the right to be a mother. As for whether she wants to be a mother and when to assume this role, the decision is in her own hands. If society prohibits abortion, it is a violation of personal freedom and rights.

Furthermore, abortion can be a love of life because not every new life is accompanied by joy. It is possible that the baby can be abnormalities when they are born. For example, body deformity is one of the most common fetal diseases. As mothers, they have the right to determine the birth of their children. Even for the child's life, social opinion, philosophical theories, and religious creeds, even state leaders, have no right to interfere with the choice of a mother. Restriction of women's rights as mothers and denying the mother's mission is a denial of human rights. The mother gave birth to a new life and suffered a lot from her body. As soon as the pain of pregnancy ended, the hardship of raising children began to accompany her for a long time. Since the birth of the child, she has had an inseparable relationship with her mother in emotional, economic, and social relationships. So, the risks she has to bear can be hundreds of times higher than before, and these risks and difficulties children have to face too. Therefore, abortion can sometimes make the children not suffer from diseases and death threats when they are born, which is also a manifestation of motherly love.

Lastly, abortion can limit the population not grow too fast and protect the environment. In 2011, the world population has already exceeded 7 billion, and the population keeps rising in the future. And once the population is too much, it will cause a lot of problems. Population growth will bring great pressure on the socio-economic and ecological environment, which may lead to resource shortages, housing shortages, and other problems. Also, it will cause imbalances between humans and nature. Human occupation of other species' territories will disrupt the ecological balance and cause the reduction or even extinction of other species. The education will also be imbalanced. Too much population growth will cause the country to lack sufficient human resources to allocate, and it is difficult for financial and material resources to meet the needs of the growing population. So many countries are running family planning policies, such as the highest population country, China. In China, a couple can only have two children. The government will also award them and provide subsidies. If the government finds out a mother is pregnant with a third child or more, they will be urged to abort as soon as possible. Under the policy, the population size is controlled effectively, and the population quality is improved. Also, it brings many other benefits for China, such as accelerating capital accumulation and reducing employment pressure. Because of the population reduction, many families can increase household consumption and free up time and energy for family members to have better entertainment, which ensures family happiness and social stability. Therefore, abortion can maintain the balance of ecology and restrict the population.

In conclusion, the issue of abortion should not be judged solely from the perspective of ethics and morals. People should have the right to control their own life and arrange their own futures. Moreover, people need to respect each other’s ways to protect lives, including the fetus. So, many people who choose abortion should gain support and understanding, not opposition and revilement. Therefore, abortion is a human rights-based choice issue, and it should not be abducted by morals. It is best viewed by the general public as a way to cherish life and reduce indirect risk.

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Abortion as a Controversial Ethical Issue: Critical Essay. (2023, October 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/abortion-as-a-controversial-ethical-issue-critical-essay/
“Abortion as a Controversial Ethical Issue: Critical Essay.” Edubirdie, 26 Oct. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/abortion-as-a-controversial-ethical-issue-critical-essay/
Abortion as a Controversial Ethical Issue: Critical Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/abortion-as-a-controversial-ethical-issue-critical-essay/> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
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