Abortion Argument Essays

When moral philosophers and others take up an issue that is at the center of public debate, we tend to frame it as a matter of individual ethics. Consider, for instance, that “abortion” is really an umbrella term for a number of different medical procedures — appropriate for different stages of pregnancy — each with significantly different health risks. The problem is that questions like these oversimplify the issues.

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Given these considerations, governments have a compelling interest in restricting abortions in late stages of a healthy pregnancy, but they have an equally compelling interest in ensuring that legal and safe abortions are available to women, without burdensome restrictions, before the last third or so of a pregnancy.

If, in the future, a public consensus on the question of when human personhood begins (in particular, one that agrees that a human person could exist before any complex psychological properties have developed), then we would need to recognize that there is more than one “patient” involved in an abortion. To get there, the minority who believe this would have to convince the rest of us of this metaphysical, or religiously based, assertion.

First, performing an abortion in the last months of pregnancy is medically more complicated and poses a higher degree of risk than one performed earlier.

Moreover, a pregnant woman in the late stages of a healthy pregnancy has already endured most of the bodily burdens of a pregnancy, and thus the health benefits of an abortion at that stage may not outweigh the risks.

Until they do, we need to focus on the more manageable and relevant question of how to regulate a medical service or procedure that is sought by millions of women.

When there is a lack of public consensus on a moral question, our public policies need to reflect the principles on which there is broad agreement.

It is true that abortion procedures commonly used a century ago were highly dangerous for patients.

With advances in medicine, though, the procedures in use today pose fewer risks to a woman’s life or health than pregnancy or childbirth itself.

A 2012 study of abortion in the United States published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, concluded: “Legal induced abortion is markedly safer than childbirth.

The risk of death associated with childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than that with abortion.”There is a lot packed into that statistic, but we often forget that pregnancy and childbirth pose health risks, which vary for women depending on their age, health status, projected need for a cesarean section, number of previous pregnancies and the spacing between them, and so on.


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