In today’s society, ethical dilemmas facing human beings are sometimes impossible to solve. One of the most controversial issues is abortion. The issue of abortion raises a myriad of discussions. Some people support abortion, while others strongly oppose it. In most cases, both sides have reasons for their positions. The complexity of the abortion issue is due to ethical perspectives in society. Abortion becomes an ethical dilemma due to a number of conflicting issues, such as the woman’s freedom rights, the doctor’s ethical responsibility to the people he/she serves, and the fetus’ right to life. There is an issue of whether some circumstances justify abortion. I agree with the argument that abortion can sometimes be deemed necessary depending on the woman’s situation.
I will argue that abortion is ethically permissible since it gives women the freedom to make choices, prevents unnecessary suffering of children, and reduces the mortality rate for expectant mothers.
The issue of abortion has become a social problem due to various factors. The debate about abortion centers on the social norms and values that have been set by various groups of people. The issue can be seen to stemming from the different views and values that people hold in relation to their norms and beliefs. Human beings are made to be social beings, and these make them form a set of values that offer directions in relating to and addressing issues (Pacilio)/. There have been people who support and oppose the issue of abortion according to their ascribed values and norms. This makes abortion to be a social problem that elicits different reactions. Some of the people who oppose abortion base their arguments on the ground of normative value structures which are associated with religious beliefs and ideologies (Bennett). People who oppose abortion mostly argue with the religious principles of the sanctity of life and therefore permitting abortion is not in line with the well-being of the society. On the other hand, those that support abortion argue that the decision should be made free for one to choose in a democratic society. Most of them argue that opposing abortion is undermining the rights of women in choosing what to do with their bodies. This makes it a social problem to the inclusion of gender rights.
One of the ramifications of women not having access to abortion is poverty and financial insecurity. Lack of abortion services may lead to having children and result in financial struggles. This can be said to be a lack of enough money to take care of the children, and also, it may hinder the woman from furthering their career or education. This has direct effects on income and thus may present financial insecurity (Muldoon). Another ramification of not having access to abortion services is an increase in health expenditure. When they are no abortion services offered, women will tend to acquire the services from unqualified people, which might result in complications or death. This affects the health sector by having to increase spending on treating complications that result from unsafe abortions.
By legalizing abortion, the government is faced with several major issues that seek to deny the right to abortion, which are raised by pro-life supporters. One of the arguments raised against abortion is the concept that life begins at conception. Therefore, abortion is seen as murder as it involves terminating a human life. Therefore, it does not respect the aspect of the sanctity of human life. The pro-life supporters have put pressure on the federal government in attempts to make abortion illegal nationally. Another major issue that faces the federal government is the lack of a clear and uniform policy on abortion (Ntontis). There have been inconsistencies across the various departments on policies regarding abortion. The ambiguity brings s confusion across the departments where you find some departments of the government have policies that tend to restrict abortion which is contrary to the federal policy on abortion.
Prenatal diagnosis has complicated the issue of abortion, where Amniocentesis and ultrasound can discover congenital disorders in an unborn child. In such cases where the healthcare givers are sure that the resulting child will be mentally or physically disabled, the debate on abortion grows fiercer. Prenatal screening offers the parents to be a chance to choose whether to have a physically challenged child or have an abortion. Fetuses which have been discovered to have Down syndrome are aborted to prevent further complications in life. This is an issue of selective abortion (Pacilio). There is an issue on the right to live against the issue of protecting both the child and the parents from the challenges faced by a disabled child. Nonetheless, the ethical thing in such cases should be to allow abortion since it prevents unnecessary suffering for children with disabilities and allows parents to experience better-planned parenthood.
The pro-choice supporters accuse the government of failing to respect women’s rights which are guaranteed by the constitution. These rights include health and reproductive rights prompting criticism for preventing women from having control of their bodies which is a civil right. Essentially it is unethical to deny people the right to make individual choices about their bodies. In every case, expectant mothers must be allowed to decide what to do with their bodies since it is enshrined in the constitution. According to Kantian ethics, people are obligated to follow universal rules and perform their duties (Watson). Therefore, freedom of choice is a universal rule which should be given to every human being without compromise.
Nonetheless, people against abortion give options to circumnavigate the issue and prevent it from happening. One of the options to be considered is adoption which is a viable option to be considered in regard to women’s rights and access to abortion services. Adoption is believed to accomplish the same task as abortion. In the country today, there are many childless families who are willing to adopt a child making the issue of an unwanted child less relevant. Another option that can be considered is by accepting to become a single parent. Most women consider abortion due to the fact that they are not ready to become single parents. The policies should encourage and support single parenting as it is becoming widely accepted in society. Another option is placing the baby in temporary guardianship if the current circumstances are difficult for raising a child (Watson). This is a good option instead of abortion. However, considering the option is unethical since it allows the government or other players to plan parenthood for women, preventing them from making choices.
On the flip side, allowing adoption has ethical issues with uncertainty as some of the women may think that the child may be mistreated, which no woman would ever want. This would leave the woman with a lot of guilt and uncertainties. On the option of single parenting, one of the challenges is the financial and practical problems of raising the child alone. The benefit comes in such a situation where the government develops a strong support system, and thus people are able to raise their children according to their wishes. Children have the right to enjoy a good lifestyle without suffering or homelessness. Therefore, abortion allows parents to make better choices for their children and raise smaller families according to their economic situation. In any case, abortion is unconstitutional, as reaffirmed by U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade legal (Muldoon). Allowing greater access to reproductive health information reduces maternal deaths.
Thomas Aquinas based his natural law theory on the existence of God, a supreme being who created all living things and is solely responsible for the whole universe. This law is based on the law of God on eternity. All living things have the freedom to do whatever they want, irrespective of the goodness or badness of their acts. When God created human beings, He put into them natural senses and thoughts. This is the fundamental assumption that should be used in explaining and understanding the issue of abortion. Since all living things, and in particular human beings, have been given the ability to pick out what is right and wrong naturally, whatever actions they take are because of God’s creation, and their action can be justifiable or not. Human beings are, however considered special when examining their nature. This is because God has equipped us with the ability to choose by use of our senses. Human beings have free will, and can they can easily reason about what to do in all circumstances. Human beings are therefore supposed to engage in acts that lean to their nature. Aquinas’s natural law, therefore, guides human beings on how to improve the world by participating in actions that are in line with the eternal law of God (Muldoon). They should distinguish between what is evil and what is good. Following the natural law by doing good will ultimately result in a better approach to abortion because the person involved will judge the goodness or wrongness of abortion. In conclusion, abortion is a situational issue, and therefore it should be handled depending on the situation.
In some circumstances, abortion is legal and justified. Utilitarianism posits that an action can be deemed morally ethical if it is meant to serve a greater good. Further, in cases where the mother’s life is in danger due to pregnancy, then abortion could be justified. Additionally, if the pregnancy was a result of a crime such as a child abuse or rape, then abortion is justified. The birth of disabled babies results in psychological and posttraumatic distress in mothers. This can translate to other people in society. In such cases, abortions can be considered right since it seeks to serve a greater purpose. In conclusion, I agree with the argument that abortion is a factor that can be morally justified as a lesser of two evils. It is, therefore imperative to consider both sides of this controversial issue.
Bennett, Christopher. “Utilitarianism.” What is this thing called ethics? London: Routledge , 2010.
Muldoon, Maureen. The abortion debate in the United States and Canada: A sourcebook. New York: Routledge, 2021. Book.
Ntontis, E. “Framing a ‘social problem’: Emotion in anti‐abortion activists’ depiction of the abortion debate.” British Journal of Social Psychology (2018): 666-683. PDF.
Pacilio, Gerard. The Traditions of Ethics: Classic Readings in Moral Philosophy. New York: Ampere Publishing LLC, 2015. Book/.
Watson, Lani. “Epistemic rights in a polarised world: The right to know and the abortion debate.” Polarisation, Arrogance, and Dogmatism (2020): 229-246. PDF.