Mark Foreman describes the issues of abortion as not only the most controversial in the modern world but also divisive, given the highly charged debates associated with it (1999). It involves terminating a pregnancy by expulsion of the embryo or fetus from the usterus, which results to its death. The law is very clear on human life and its conservation however, the beginning of human life forms the basis of debates. Pro-life activists, those against abortion argue that it begins at conception, with their opponents fervently assert their position that it begins after birth. Thus, proponents of abortion argue that a woman has the right to decide on what happens to her body and the course of her destiny. Even though a woman has rights to her body and the course of her destiny, abortion is morally unacceptable because it is tantamount to murder and human life is of prime importance.
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The most important reason why abortion is morally unacceptable is that human life is of paramount importance. Every human being has a right to life, which implies that a fetus also has the right to live. One of the ardent pro-life activists Marquis argues that even though a woman has a right over her body, “the right to life overrides the right of a woman to control her body” (p 83). Although a woman has the right to her body, it does not entail that she should end another persons life for her to do what she wants with her body. Another example that shows that human life is of supreme importance, is taking a theological approach to this issue. The Book of Genesis in the bible give life a sacred bearing by stating that “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27 New International Version). This verse clearly illustrates that God values the life of a human being right from creation and not only after birth.
Even though there is the perception that a woman has right to her body, abortion is wrong because it is tantamount to murder. In addressing this, Noonan asks the question, “How do you determine the humanity of a being?” In answering this question, Noonan argues, “if one is conceived by human beings, one is a human being” (1970). This argument implies that a fetus enjoys the same rights as any human being and therefore, abortion is equivalent to murder of a fellow human, which is unacceptable. Another example that shows abortion equates to murder is the techniques used to accomplish the task. One of the common methods used is the Suction Aspiration. In this technique, a sucker sucks the fetus into a container, where it comes out as a dismembered figure. The Dilation and Excavation technique is another commonly used method, which involves inserting specially shaped knifes that cut the fetus into pieces before extracting it. These are just some of the methods. Pro-life activists have the strong conviction that this is murder at its most foul form, on innocent human life.
On the other end of the divide, proponents of abortion argue that a woman has a right to her body and the determination of her future destiny. Although proponents concede the fact that human life is important and needs respect, they argue that a fetus is not a human. One of the vocal supporters of abortion Judith Jarvis Thompson refers to the arguments that a fetus is human as “slippery slope arguments”. She compares the “development of an acorn into and oak tree”, and points out that the acorn is not referred as an oak and so a fetus is not yet a human being (1971). Thompson contends that a fetus becomes human only after birth. She considers Noonan’s argument as plausible. However, she asserts, “a woman surely can defend her life against the threat to it posed by the unborn chills, even if doing so involves its death”. In concluding her arguments, she argues that ‘a very early abortion is not the killing of a person” (1971). With regard to her arguments, it is evident that she advocates for abortion. However, her standpoint is that the fetus is not yet human life at its early stages until birth, and so abortion would not be morally wrong if the mother faces danger. Thompson’s provides weighty arguments especially when she advocates for abortion with regard the safety of the mother and in some instances such as rape.
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In conclusion, the issue of abortion is not only controversial but also a sensitive issue. Advocates and opponents of abortion agree that human life is of paramount importance. However, the point of departure is the commencement of human life. Performing an abortion no matter the circumstances of the pregnancy means that the society has lost a potential human being. Even though abortion may be necessary only under certain circumstances, authorities and rights groups should discourage it and create awareness on the moral implications associated with abortion.
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