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A 3 Pages Term Paper on Abortion: A controversy

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Abortion: A Controversy


     This paper deals with the controversies and opinions of different religions, groups and activists about abortion. It opens with the basic definition of abortion and goes on to explain the various methods of abortion in a summary fashion. It expands later to the different views held and supported by pro-abortion groups and abolitionists. The later is supported by references from actual texts of the religious books and statements by their leaders. The paper concludes with the opinions of the author and the implications of all such practices.


     The term "abortion" actually refers to any premature expulsion of a human fetus, whether naturally, as in a miscarriage, or artificially induced as in a surgical or medical abortion. (NRLC website). The Oxford dictionary defines abortion as “the expulsion of a fetus from the womb before it is able to survive independently”.

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Methods of abortion

     The types of abortion practices can be generally summarized into two categories, based on the time and procedures adopted.

Medical Abortion

     Medical abortion is a way to end pregnancy without surgery. It is done with medications up to 49 days after the last period begins. Their effectiveness, once the basic criteria is fulfilled, is up to 95%. Many women prefer medical abortion due to some comforting factors, such as no anesthesia or surgery, can be performed early with more control and it has a decreased risk of damage to the uterus.

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Surgical Abortion

     This technique can be broadly categorized into two, namely early surgical abortions and mid-trimester abortions. Both are depended on the duration of the pregnancy counting from the first day of the last menstrual period. The process is carried on by a surgical procedure called vacuum aspiration. This procedure is carried out by gently suctioning the lining of the uterus and removing all the tissues of pregnancy. The process takes less then 10 minutes including the administration of local anesthesia, preparation of the cervix and the suction tube insertion that completes the procedure. (Penfield, 1986)

Arguments against abortion

     There have been arguments against this particular medical practice since the early ages (timeline website). Now, that the technology has paved a clearer picture of the practices involved and the risks inherited, we are at a much better position to look at these arguments.

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Medical Arguments

     Opponents to abortion raise the controversial issue of fetal pain. Does the fetus feel pain during abortion? Changes in heart rate and fetal movement suggest that intrauterine manipulations are painful to the fetus." It is also said that at conception the embryo is genetically distinct from the mother, thus constituting a different life and then arguments rage on life and death. A flat EEG (electroencephalograph) is one of the most important criteria used to determine death. If the cessation of brain wave activity can define death, could the onset of brain wave activity define life? Individual brain waves are detected in the fetus in about 40-43 days. Using brain wave activity to define life would outlaw at least a majority of abortions.

Legal Arguments

     The notion that “It is the role of the government to protect life” serves as a double-edged knife for mothers undergoing abortions. It is argued that government cannot remove a segment of the human population from its protection without adequate justification. Physicians around the world subscribed to the Hippocratic oath ("I will not give a woman a pessary to produce abortion"). The unborn were protected by various international documents like the Declaration of Geneva and the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of the Child. In the Roe v. Wade case, the Supreme Court clearly stated that it does not know when life begins and then violated the very spirit of this legal principle by acting as if it just proved that no life existed in the womb.

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Religious arguments

     The most common foreground, from where the arguments against abortions rise, is religions. Christians, Muslims, Jews and even Buddhists quote the text of their scriptures that shows that taking of a life is not permitted and once the premises that a fetus is a living thing; all of these texts condemn abortions. In Psalm 139, David gives praise to the lord in the following versus:

     For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139,vv. 13-16)

     This scripture portrays the life form is taken as a life since its conception; Thus, the unborn baby is made in the image of God.
Islam, the second most followed religion in the world today, deferred punishment of a pregnant adulteress until she was delivered of her baby. This perhaps serves to indicate that pregnancy occurring out of wedlock does not constitute grounds for depriving the fetus of his right to life, even when adultery in Islam is punishable by death. In a verse of the Holy Quran we can note a passage stating, "that mothers shall not kill their children." (Holy Quran 6-12, Islamset website)

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     Buddhism, being a religion that does not hold that humans have a responsibility to procreate, has different views in west and east but the majority of the modern Buddhist views can be seen from the extract below:
“Abortion is the intentional taking of human life, an extremely bad and unwholesome act which is not to be done. For the devout, traditional Buddhist, that is the end of the matter.” (Price,1985)

    No matter which religion is under consideration, abortion remains a myth that has to be avoided in order for the society under it has to progress. Moral issues have less to do with it then expressed, because religions have the responsibility to justify their actions on ethical or moral grounds before the masses start to accept them. Many religious arguments exist which do not apply now due to the time segregation between their declaration and our problems is more then even a few centuries. There has not been a single mention of clear verdict against or in favor of abortion in the bible because at that time this was not an issue at all. Some decisions are left on the churches and the keepers of religions to shape and guide their pupil as societies evolve.

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Women right issues

     The arguments based on religion, law or even medical sciences cannot be argued without a bias since everyone will belong to one sect or the other of the same. Human rights, or in this case, Women rights bring the focus to a much clearer and coherent form of arguments which are present in the modern day and age. The strict question “Why shouldn’t a woman have the right to choose an abortion if she needs one?” is a torch holder for many activists. The fact is that the woman is not the only one affected. Abortion kills an unborn child. A society that allows abortion is denying the most fundamental human right, the right to life. A child, born or unborn, has a unique DNA, blood group and all in all biologically separate from its mother.


     Most of us would agree that a woman has the right to make her own decisions but when it comes to killing her child because it will ruin her career or change her life in an unpleasing way, it becomes more then just a matter of freedom of choice. We live in an educated society, and we take pride in it but the banners and slogans on the streets sometimes tell a different story. Abortion is probably the most controversial topic that we come across and the decision we make at that time as parents, mothers, and doctors or as a whole society reflects upon the future of our generations and how we want it to be. No research paper could conclude if this practice is right or wrong or give judgment on the mothers who go through it but all that can be done is an attempt to better understand the situations, the actual process and the hoaxes associated with it and that is what has been attempted here.

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NRLC website: http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/ASMF/asmf13.html , URL verified on 20th November, 2001.

Jefferson Penfield, M.D., Gynecologic Surgery Under Local Anesthesia, (1986)
(Baltimore: Urban & Schwarzenburg)

Islamset website: http://www.islamset.com/ethics/topics/abort.html , URL verified
 on 19th November, 2001.

Timeline website: http://www.fringeweb.com/abort_context.html , URL verified on
19th November 2001.


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