Abortion: Morality Meets the Law
Abortion has always been an extremely debatable topic of discussion in the United States. Whether you are ‘Pro-choice’ or ‘Pro-life’ is a very important decision a person must make. Although the debate over abortion and whether it should be legal for doctors to perform or refuse abortions is a vastly discussed topic in other countries such as Great Britain. (Whiting, 2011). For many people it comes down to their religious beliefs. Morality plays an extremely important role when it comes to abortions. This question of what is considered morally ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is what makes this topic so controversial. This is also why it is very difficult for judges to come to a decision when they are dealing with cases about abortion. Abortion politics and government policy have progressed throughout the years however it is 1
very unlikely that America will ever agree on abortion policy. For instance in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade which stated that a woman had a right to have an abortion however it must be to protect the woman’s health and prenatal life.(Roe v. Wade (1974)). This court decision was when the true controversy over abortion really hit. Some people saw it as a good thing because it would put an end to ‘back-alley’ and self-induced abortions. (McKeegan, 1992). And some people believed allowing abortions are denying humanity to the unborn fetus. (McKeegan, 1992). Roe v. Wade put this topic up in the air for discussion and began the battle between ‘Pro-life’ and ‘Pro-choice’. Morality is the primary issue for many people when it comes to abortion. This is true because an abortion is the termination of a life or living thing in the form of a fetus. (Tupa, 2009). However the law argues that a woman can have an abortion before she goes into her third trimester of her pregnancy or before six months whether the fetus is viable or not. (Roe v. Wade (1974)). To people who are ‘Pro- life’ this is in every way morally wrong because they believe a fetus is a life. However some scientific research suggests otherwise. 3
Since scientific research suggests that fetuses lack consciousness or sentience prior to, at the earliest, 18 weeks of development and about 99% of abortions in the United States are performed well before this time, most abortions in the United States kill beings-call them ‘early fetuses’-that are yet to have minds.(Nobis, p. 264 (2011)). However many ‘Pro-life’ supporters still believe that an abortion at any time during the pregnancy is killing a viable being. According to Nathan Nobis, “There are no such morally relevant differences between fetuses and adults such that killing adults is prima facie wrong, whereas fetuses are not prima facie wrong to kill,” and many ‘Pro-choice’ minded people agree with his opinion.(Nobis, p.263 (2011)). This battle between ‘Pro-choice’ and ‘Pro-life’ fuels the question of morality in context with abortions. It is difficult to say if the questions of viability and morality will ever be answered. Neither side has seemed to budge on their stance through the years. Religion is also closely linked with morality and its’ ideological battle between ‘Pro-life’ and ‘Pro-choice’ supporters. According to Daniel Callahan in his book, Abortion: Law, Choice, and Morality (1970), “There is 4
scarcely any religious group in the world most of whose members are in agreement on the moral issue of abortion,” which denies the stereotype that all are Christians is ‘Pro-life’ supporters. (Callahan, p.1 (1970)). Callahan realizes that the topic of abortion is so heavily debated that even religion cannot bring a large, similar group to a single conclusion of if abortion is morally right or wrong. However many Christians are in fact ‘Pro-life’ supporters, but in today’s society in the present day United States more and more seemingly radical ideals are becoming...