Few topics can cause more ire than abortion. It is a debate that pits raw emotion against hard logic. Millions of years of evolution versus cold facts. No debate that involves sex, the death of children, rape, incest, legal and personal responsibility, and religion is going to be a calm one.
Is Abortion Murder?
Calling abortion murder is sure to get a lot of people angry. It is, however, a very reasonable conclusion to make. It depends on your perspective. If a child is a child from the moment of conception, then aborting him or her would mean it is murder. If a group of cells that cannot survive without the mother is not considered a child, then aborting it is the same as using contraception or the morning after pill.
Many religious authorities have followed a fundamental view of the rights of the child. As soon as the egg is fertilised, it is fulfilling its potential to become a human being and should be protected as one. The relative development is irrelevant because if it is left to develop, it will emerge as a human. Opponents to this view argue that if a fertilised cell is a human being, then using a condom or masturbating is tantamount to murder (a view shared by the Catholic Church) as trillions of potential lives die in teenage boys’ bellybuttons every day.
A line has to be drawn somewhere, that is why legislation exists. Some people draw it at the moment of conception, which is understandable. Others draw the line at viability, the point at which the baby can survive outside the womb. Some even hold that even if the baby is viable and likely to survive, the mother still has the right to terminate that pregnancy.
Power over Life and Death
Some oppose abortion because they believe that it is not for any human to decide who lives and dies. If a foetus is a person, then nobody can destroy that life. In the same way that people oppose the death penalty because they believe humans incapable of making decisions of such gravity, opposition to abortion is necessary.
Many people believe in a soul. Something eternal that humans are endowed with. Many logical arguments about the soul lead to the conclusion that it is engendered in a human at the point of conception. If that cell or group of cells is perceived to have something as precious as a soul, then destroying it would be a heinous crime. It would be against God. If God has created a soul, then the argument goes that we should protect it.
The Child Can Have a Future
One of the strongest oppositions to abortion is the argument that if a woman wants to abort her foetus because she cannot or will not care for it (rape, incest, economic hardship, and mental illness are all legally recognised as valid reasons in many countries), she should carry the baby to term and give it up for adoption. The waiting lists of adoptive parents is greater than the number of babies who need adopting in many countries, so why not let the child survive and be adopted?
State care is much better than it used to be. The prospect of leaving a child in an orphanage is much less horrifying than it used to be. Many mothers do make this choice and opponents of abortion argue that mothers should be induced to follow this path instead of having an abortion.
Where there is Agreement
Very few people are against abortion if the mother’s life is at risk, or the foetus is dead. However, some do, especially if there is a chance the child might survive. Most legislation reflects this and requires either a judge or a panel of physicians to make judgements as to the risks and appropriate actions.
Rape and Incest
To many people, the method of conception is irrelevant when it comes to the child. If a child is born of rape or incest, that is not the fault of that child and they should not have their life taken away because of it. Awareness of the trauma this can bring to a mother has spurred human rights legislation to allow abortion in the cases of rape, citing that a woman has a right to a family and a private life, and if she can have a baby, it is her own choice, not someone else’s.
The chance of a child having abnormalities is doubled when they are conceived by incest. It rises from 2% to 4%, but the perception is that it is much higher, and this is often cited as a reason for justifying abortion in these cases.
No Good Answers
There is no way of thinking about abortion without finding it upsetting. Regardless of whether you support it or not, it still involves the destruction of something that could become a person, or already is. Children are precious and the nurturing instinct is the strongest instinct in nature. Calm heads usually prevail, but the debate rages on.