Abortion and Public Health: Reasons Why Abortion Should Not Be Legal

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“The rights of children as individuals begin while yet they remain the fetus... I hold abortion to be just as much murder as the killing of a person after birth is murder.” – Victoria Claflin Woodhull. This was a statement made by a one of the women who started the movement for women to have the same rights as men when it came to voting in the 18th century famously known as the suffragette. It shows just how long abortion has elicited strong feelings and ever since, it is still a divisive issue. Abortion is when a fetus or an embryo is removed from its mother’s womb before its birth. The right to end a pregnancy has been a long contentious issue pitching the pro-life who do not want abortion to be legalized and pro-choice groups who are for abortion, against each other with either side seeking to present compelling reasons to support their claims. 

Many nations grant a leeway for mothers whose health is in danger while pregnant and in rape cases, to have an abortion while other countries have a complete ban on abortion. As Claflin Woodhull put it, no human should have the right to murder a child in his or her mother’s womb because if tables were turned, they would not want their lives cut short. The case for the unborn child is complex and that is why abortion should not be legal for the following reasons: a fetus or an embryo has a right to live and pregnancy should be prevented at all costs so that unwanted children would not have their lives stripped from them. The fact that taking away the life of a fetus is equivalent to murder, is one of the reasons why abortion should not be legal. In a Lawnix (2012) summary of the Roe vs Wade case on abortion, where Roe brought the case before the court needing an overturn in the abortion laws of Texas, the court ruled that the state should protect the likely life of the fetus at various points of the gestation period. What this meant was that it was up to the doctors to determine whether an embryo at conception or at a later point of the pregnancy, which is a result of a human sperm and human ovum fusing, was human. This is contrary to scientific evidence that states that life begins when a sperm fertilizes and ovum and not at different months of the pregnancy. Ventura-Junca & Santos(2011) wrote that when an ovum and sperm meet, a zygote forms and that is the start of a new human life as it as it carries its own genes that is distinct from the mother and father. To add on to this, Yeung (2005) further explains that a single cell organism takes a certain path in its development and if that progress is human, then that means that it was human to begin with. 

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Therefore, suggesting that an embryo or zygote has probable life when it was life from fertilization is its life can or cannot have meaning, is simply committing murder since it became human from that first insemination. Human rights is defined by the United Nations as the right to life, liberty and freedom of expression. The fetus in the womb is entitled to all these rights as every `other human being. Abortions should be illegal because unwelcome pregnancies have higher chances of prevention in this age than they were before. A study conducted on women from fourteen countries on why they chose to have abortions gave one repetitive reason as not being able to afford raising a child (Chae et al, 2017). It is becoming increasingly difficult to raise a child with food, shelter and education costs rising by the day. Abortion may seem like an easy way out of not subjecting a child to all these economic problems but the focus should have been in taking care to not let a pregnancy happen rather than do away with it. According to United States Food and Drug Association (FDA), there are various forms of birth control that prevents one from getting pregnant like vasectomies for men, contraceptives and intrauterine device (IUD) for women that contains hormones that help stop the woman’s ovum from being fertilized. If used correctly, the FDA says less than 1 woman out of 100 women may get pregnant, which greatly reduces the chance of an unwanted pregnancy and possible abortion procedure to get rid of it. Abortion has caused so many deaths that contraceptives could have prevented from happening. McCurdy (2016) says that there have been fifty million abortions in the United States since 1973 far surpassing the deaths from tobacco smoking which is the leading cause of death in the US yet it could be prevented. 

Birth control methods still remain out of reach for many who cannot afford it that is why countries should not tax them or offer subsidies that make them affordable and accessible even in areas where abortion is not legalized, so as to give women options other than abortion. Some may argue that there is no harm caused when an abortion is done since a fetus is unable to experience pain. Medics have long stated that the pain levels of a fetus is way lower than that of a child or an adult and that pain receptors begin to form at 24 weeks after conception (Lee et al, 2005). Therefore, many states in the United States of America like state of Georgia, have given a mandate to physicians to let the women know that having an abortion will cause pain to the unborn child at more than 20 weeks old in the womb (Lee et al, 2005). If a mother chooses to proceed with it even after 20 weeks, means the fetus will feel discomfort and disproves the notion that abortion does not cause fetal pain. Brugger (2012), makes an interesting argument that perceiving fetal pain sensory nerves as that of an adult is disproportionate because even after coming out of the mother’s womb, they still take time to grow it. Measuring fetal pain with that of an adult is unreasonable as they are still growing (Brugger, 2012) hence measuring or trying to equate the pain that a fetus feels to that of an adult is being partial. Interestingly enough, new studies on how the nerves of a fetus react to pain have been found to develop as early as 12 weeks instead of the previous of 20 to 24 weeks limit (Derbyshire and Bockmann, 2020). This continues to support the statement that fetus feel some kind of pain and therefore abortion should be not be legal. 

Abortion should be not be legal for two main reasons. A fetus has a right to live as all humans rightly do and are accorded the chance even if it is depending on the mother for food and womb defense. Since many abortions take place because the women do not want to carry the pregnancy to term mainly because of money issues, contraception and prevention of pregnancies should be encouraged and made easily accessible to those who need it including vasectomies for men. The campaigners for abortion have stated that a fetus does not exhibit pain reactions until after 20 weeks of pregnancy but this is measuring a fetus pain reception with that of an adult which will not hold as their pain level is different. The case for non-fetal pain continues to face challenges with new findings that suggest a fetus is able to feel pain as early as 12 weeks than what was thought previously. Life is precious and its value is priceless, that why we must prevent abortion instead of using it to take lives at will because a law says so.

References:

  1. Brugger, C. (2012). The Problem of Fetal Pain and Abortion: Toward an Ethical Consensus for Appropriate Behavior. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234048718_The_Problem_of_Fetal_Pain_and_ Abortion_Toward_an_Ethical_Consensus_for_Appropriate_Behavior
  2. Chae, S., Desai, S., Crowell, M & Sedgh, G. (2017). Reasons why women have induced abortions: a synthesis of findings from 14 countries. . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.contraception.2017.06.014
  3. Commissioner, O. (2020, November 02). Birth Control. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/freepublications-women/birth-control
  4. Derbyshire, WG.S., & Bockmann, C.J. (2020). Reconsidering fetal pain. Journal of Medical Ethics 2020 46(1). https://jme.bmj.com/content/46/1/3
  5. Human Rights. (n.d.). United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/human-rights/
  6. Lee, J. S. et al (2005, August 24). Fetal Pain.
  7. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/201429
  8. McCurdy, S. (2016, February). Abortion and public health: Time for another look. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5102173/
  9. Roe v. Wade – Case Brief Summary. (2012, October). https://web.archive.org/web/20121022102151/http://www.lawnix.com/cases/roe-
  10. wade.html
  11. Ventura-Junca, P. & Santos, J.M. (2011). The beginning of life of a new human being from the scientific biological perspective and its bioethical implications**. https://scielo.conicyt.cl/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0716-97602011000200013
  12. Yeung, Jr.P. (2005, February). When does human life begin? Ethics & medicine: a Christian perspective on issues in bioethics 21(2) 69-71. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7501822_When_does_human_life_begin
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