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Debate: Abortion

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Should abortions of any kind be permitted?

Background and context

The issue of abortion is one of the most contentious, and emotive dilemmas faced by modern societies. The question is whether one should allow the termination of a pregnancy. For some, the question is even more fundamental: at what stage is the embryo or fetus in the uterus to be regarded as a child? At fertilization? At birth? Or, maybe somewhere between. The battle-lines are drawn between strict, religious (‘pro-life’) arguments (that it is never permissible), and those (‘pro-choice’) that emphasise the woman’s right to choose as the primary concern. While abortion has been legal in America since the land-mark Roe vs. Wade case in the early 1970s, this is by no means a reflection of universal agreement – either international or within America itself – as many Western countries still have considerable restrictions on abortion. For example, the Irish position has softened only recently, and the Catholic Church steadfastly refuses to change its resolutely pro-life stance in the face of criticism from Women’s and other lobby-groups.

The abortion debate revolves around a number of questions. Does a woman have a right to her body that the fetus cannot take away? Does this right mean that a woman has a right to "unplug" from the fetus? Or, does the fetus have a right to life that is binding on the woman and her body and that outweighs any rights held by the woman, requiring her to give birth? Is a fetus only a fetus or is it a person that deserves rights and protections? Does "human life" begin at conception or at birth? Is destroying a fetus akin to "killing a human" or murder?

What about the biological father? What rights does he have over a fetus? If the woman seeks an abortion, can he prevent it? And, what if she wants to give birth to a child, while he does not want it to happen? What say does he have? Is this, therefore, simply a question of the woman's rights, or the man's rights as well?

Is a woman responsible for actions and behavior that may lead to an unwanted pregnancy, making her responsible for the fetus even if it is "unwanted"? Are there circumstances in which a woman cannot be said to be responsible for her own impregnation, such as failed contraception or rape? Can this justify an abortion?

Is abortion an issue that is subjectively moral/immoral, so should be reserved to individual judgement (not law)? Must opponents simply tolerate the practice? Or, is the scale of abortions world-wide too large to ignore, and does this scale give cause to a ban?

Is abortion an important way for young women to ensure that their futures are not destroyed? Is it an important part of ensuring that women can have sex comfortably and without worry? Is child-rearing more fulfilling than many women tend to believe? Is it wrong to consider "quality of life" issues here? Is the "sanctity of life" more important than "quality of life"? Does abortion result in psychological disorders or depression? Does it increase the chances of cancer? What about during emergencies in which the risks of giving birth are very high for a woman? Should she be forced to endure these risks, or can an abortion be appropriate in these circumstances?

Does abortion generally empower women with an important choice regarding their bodies? Or, does it demean them, possibly by opening them to sexual exploitation by men.

Are there viable alternatives to abortion such as adoption? Does the option of adoption invalidate all concerns regarding raising a child? Are there concerns regarding the safety of child-birth that make the possibility of putting a child up for adoption risky? Is abortion itself risky? How do the risks of abortion compare to the risks of child-birth?

Does the illegalization of abortion merely push women to seek "back alley" abortions, which are less safe? Is it impossible to enforce any ban on abortions? Does this matter? Is abortion merely a new form of birth control that is being exploited by women, and which allows them (and their partner) to act recklessly in their sexual behavior?

Is it better to abort a child that will be unwanted or neglected by its parent? Is this good for children that would, perhaps, suffer, and possibly good for society that would suffer from their presence (crime)? Or is it wrong to base decisions regarding abortion (life and death) on merely whether a baby is wanted? Are the social problems that will confront a baby irrelevant or inappropriate to consider? Can/should they be addressed by other means than abortion? These and other questions frame the complicated abortion debate, which continues to be highly contentious, with massive support on both sides internationally.

Other background resources

Contents

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Woman's rights: Does a woman have a right to her body that includes a right to abortion?

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Yes

  1. Giving rights to unborn children takes rights away from mothers.
  2. Abortion may be immoral, but it is still a woman's right.
  3. Women must control their bodies or risk becoming servants of the fetus.
  4. Abortion may be immoral, but it is still a woman's right.
  5. Opponents can object to abortions, but must tolerate the choice.
  6. Denying abortion rights forces maternity on women (state rape).
  7. A woman has the sole right to decide to seek an abortion.
  8. Abortion is the woman's choice, not the father's
  9. The mother's life is more valuable than the fetus.
  10. If women can't be trusted with "choice", how can they be trusted with children?
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No

  1. We need to respect the rights of unborn children.
  2. Children who are born deserve full human rights. It is illogical to give full human rights to babies, but no human rights to fetuses. It would be more logical to give rights to fetuses progressively over time. Embryonic life should not be used for vanity industry.
  3. Sure the right of the mother should be taken into account, but so should the child. To ignore one is wrong. Women are used to only being one person. But to pretend that women cannot become two people, is to ignore nature. It may feel safe for a woman to ignore nature, if she doesn't want to grow up, but society or parents need to prepare her for becoming responsible enough to avoid duplicating, unless she wants to. People are allowed to create life, but they are not allowed to subtract.
  4. If men don't have the right to use their bodies to harm others, then neither should women. It is unfair that women have to carry more of a burden of carrying for children, but just because life is unfair, does not give women, in a day of birth control, the right to kill their babies. Men don't have a right to their bodies that allows them to kill babies. Men have the right to move their hands. Men have the right to kick. Men have the right to hire doctors. But men do not have a right to hire doctors to kill their children, if the mother wants to keep the baby.
  5. The "dialysis" analogy is invalid; pregnancy is unique One of the most famous arguments against abortion is the "dialysis analogy" put forward by Judith Jarvis in 1971. It compares abortion to a situation in which a healthy woman (the mother by analogy) is attached to a dying patient (the fetus by analogy) in order to keep the dying patient alive. The concept is that the dying person does not have a right to the woman's body, and that the woman has a right to "unplug" (abort) even if it means the death of the other person. The problem with the analogy is many fold: 1. A woman and a fetus have a special relationship that is incomparable to that between a woman and a stranger or even a relative. There is a special biological drive inside the mother to keep the baby alive and a dependency by the baby on the mother. The mother, therefore, has a special responsibility to keep her child alive and not abort; 2. A woman often gives a form of tacit approval to the existence of a fetus in her womb: the act of engaging in sexual behavior; 3. abortion directly kills the embryo and does not merely "unplug" and let it die. These are critical differences that invalidate a classic, central argument for abortion.
  • Parents must "control their bodies" or else risk being a servant of their children? Rights sometimes come with Responsibilities. Let's take the roof off the argument that claims that a person (and their body) has unlimited "rights not to be enslaved" as a consequence of being a parent, which was almost always the result of their of their own action (not "controlling their body," use of contraceptives, etc.) and yet their fetus/child has no rights for care. If the principle of "enslavement" were true would it not extend to the care of a new born or older child? A new-born depends on it's mother's body and breast milk for the same nutrition and similar if not greater nurturing available to him/her in the womb. Can a mother, father or caretaker morally or legally neglect or "unplug" the child from nutrition and care on the "enslavement" argument? No. Does one have greater personal rights by virtue of "their body," or can a parent provide care without "their body?" No. Can we protest that "forcing a parent to continue being a parent subjugates them to the child? Of course not. The child has a right to care from it's parents or legal guardians and they have a responsibility to care for him or her.
  • The right to choice/privacy (abortion) does not override the right to life Jesse Jackson, U.S. civil rights activist, now in favor of legal abortion, in National Right to Life News, (January, 1977) - "There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of [a] higher order than the right to life ... that was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside your right to be concerned." Thus, even if a woman has a right to her body and to "choice", this right is overridden by the fetus's right to life. And, what could be more important than life? All other rights, including the mother’s right to choice, surely stem from a prior right to life; if you have no right to any life, then how do you have a right to an autonomous one? The woman may ordinarily have a reasonable right to control her own body, but this does not confer on her the entirely separate (and insupportable) right to decide whether another human lives or dies.
  • Women should be held responsible for behavior leading to impregnation. If one does not want to have a baby, they should not have sex, or they should take extreme precaution when having sex. Sex is not a game. It is a serious matter of reproduction and life. If a woman plays with it and becomes pregnant, she should be held responsible to carry out the birth of her child. And, it should be noted that the responsibility could end at child-birth, with it being possible to put a child up for adoption. The consequences of an unwanted pregnancy need not be major, but they must be born by the mother and father.
  • A woman's rights are not the only rights that need to be respected in abortion: Of course, human-rights should be respected, but it is never the case that a person has a right to make a decision with no reference to the rights and wishes of others. There are two primary rights that must be considered in addition to the rights of the woman. First, the father has some rights over the fetus. Second, the fetus itself may have some rights. The point is merely that the woman's interests and rights cannot be the only ones under consideration.
  • The scale of abortions makes state intervention compelling Some argue that abortion is an individual moral choice that the state should not get involved with. Yet, when an individual moral choice is practiced on a massive scale, it becomes a concern for broader society and government as well.
  • Under a "veil of ignorance", the unborn would adopt a pro-life social contract The "veil of ignorance" is a notion put forward by liberal philosopher John Rawls. This idea relates to the social contract people would adopt if they were effectively unborn spirits under a "veil of ignorance" regarding where they would "end-up" in life. The conclusion is that everyone would adopt a social contract that hedges against poor outcomes if they get the "short-end of the stick". Abortion could be considered the "shortest stick" (death - no life at all), so it is likely that, under a "veil of ignorance", the unborn would would adopt a pro-life social contract. It is notable that this social contract theory is tenant of liberal thought, and yet liberals are most supportive of abortion. There may be an inconsistency there.
  • Birth control is easy to obtain.
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Fetus rights: Is it wrong to assign rights to the fetus? Is it not a person?

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Yes

  • A fetus is no more a human than an acorn is a tree Judith Jarvis Thomson. "A Defense of Abortion". Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 1, no. 1 (Fall 1971). - "Most opposition to abortion relies on the premise that the fetus is a human being, a person, from the moment of conception. The premise is argued for, but, as I think, not well. Take, for example, the most common argument. We are asked to notice that the development of a human being from conception through birth into childhood is continuous; then it is said that to draw a line, to choose a point in this development and say "before this point the thing is not a person, after this point it is a person" is to make an arbitrary choice, a choice for which in the nature of things no good reason can be given. It is concluded that the fetus is or anyway that we had better say it is, a person from the moment of conception. But this conclusion does not follow. Similar things might be said about the development of an acorn into an oak trees, and it does not follow that acorns are oak trees, or that we had better say they are...A newly fertilized ovum, a newly implanted clump of cells, is no more a person than an acorn is an oak tree."
  • A fetus is not a "person" so can't have rights protecting it from abortion: Is terminating a fetus, which can neither feel emotions nor be conscious of its own "existence," really be considered equivalent to killing a "person?" Some define personhood (qualifying for rights) through a set of criteria. A being need not exhibit every criterion to qualify as a person, but failure to exhibit most is proposed as disqualification. One list includes consciousness (at least the capacity to feel pain), reasoning, self motivation, the ability to communicate on many possible topics, and self-awareness. Lists like this are intended to help someone be able to objectively distinguish between a biological human and a person. An embryo is not a person because it satisfies only one criterion, namely consciousness (and this only after it becomes susceptible to pain). Other sets of criteria conclude that an embryo lacks personhood (and a right to life) because it lacks self-consciousness, rationality, and autonomy. These lists diverge over precisely which features confer a right to life, but tend to propose that they are developed psychological features not found in embryos.
  • The fetus causes physical pain; the woman has a right to self-defense. The fetus causes sickness, discomfort, and and extreme pain to a woman during her pregnancy and labor. It is, therefore, justifiable for a woman to pursue an abortion in self-defense.
  • Potential of fetus to become a person is not sufficient Ayn Rand - "Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a 'right to life.' A piece of protoplasm has no rights -— and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable."
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No

  • Human life and a right to life begin at conception; abortion is murder Human life is continuum of growth that starts at conception, not at birth. The DNA that makes a person who they are is first mixed at conception upon the male sperm entering the female egg. This is when the genetic building blocks of a person are "conceived" and built upon. The person, therefore, begins at conception. Killing the fetus, thus, destroys a growing person and can be considered murder. Ronald Reagan, quoted in the New York Times on September 22,1980 "I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born."
  • Life is an individual right, not a privilege, for unborn humans Mother Teresa, in her amicus brief filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in the cases of Loce v. New Jersey and Krail et al. v. New Jersey in February 1994 - "Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or sovereign... you must weep that your own government, at present, seems blind to this truth."[1]
  • A fetus is uniquely capable of becoming a person; deserves rights It is unquestionable that the fetus, at whatever stage of development, will inevitably develop the traits of a full-grown human person. It will also inevitably accumulate all of the rights that you yourself have. If we deprive the unborn of life via abortions, however, they will be deprived of all of this potential and future rights. This is why extending a right to life is of utmost importance; the future of the unborn depends on it.
  • No one argues that an acorn or even an animal fetus has a “sanctity” or rights. No, human beings are in an entirely different class. We are called not to murder human life, not acorns. It's not the stage of development, it's the precious value of humans. Abortionists focus only on the early stage of development and ignore the specialness and reverence we should have for even a tiny (but growing) human life. A living, developing human fetus by definition IS a human life.
  • If these criteria for being a "person" are valid then killing infants is justifiable. Infants also lack self motivation, self-awareness, rationality, autonomy, and the ability to converse on a variety of subjects.
  • Women can only be "pregnant" with a "child" not merely a "fetus" This is similar to the above argument. The point is that pregnancy can only be called pregnancy and that you can only be pregnant with a "child". Nobody would ever say, "I'm pregnant with a fetus". Therefore, fetuses should be considered "unborn children" with correlating rights.
  • Fetuses, as dependents, do have some rights over their mother's body The mother-fetus relationship is unlike any other relationship between individuals. The fetus is, without choice or by chance, dependent on its mother for sustenance and life. The mother has unique responsibilities toward the fetus in this relationship, and so, yes, a fetus has some unique rights over its mother.
  • Pro-abortionists dehumanize "fetuses" to get away with murder Frederica Matthewes-Green, "Personhood of the Unborn", on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, (January 21, 1998) - "When we question whether someone is a person, it is because we want to kill him. We do this with our enemies in wartime, or with anyone we would like to enslave or exploit. Before we can feel comfortable treating others this way, we have to expel them from the human community. But there's just no logical reason to expel the unborn."[3]
  • Abortion deprives a fetus of an entire human future: Some argue that abortion is wrong because it deprives the embryo of a valuable future. Indeed, killing any human being is wrong because it deprives the victim of a valuable future: any experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments that they would have enjoyed. Abortion is particularly egregious because it deprives a fetus of all experiences as a human being.
  • The unborn are voiceless and should be protected against abortion Ronald Reagan. New York Times. September 22nd. 1980 - "I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born."[4] In other words, the unborn would all be against abortion, but, of course, they can't express their opinion as for/against abortion. It is important to protect such a voiceless minority in society.
  • That the fetus may do harm to the mother cannot justify destroying it. Even when born, a child can inflict much more physical pain on the mother than he can on the womb, his destruction is still illegal.
  • It is wrong to kill fetuses on the basis that they can't think/feel. On "the fetus cant think argument": Animal abuse, suicide and even cutting down a tree are frequently illegal on the basis that these things have some value and should not be destroyed, killed, or treated inhumanely. It has little to do with the degree of consciousness attained by a creature. If the destruction of any species with a significant value is illegal, what makes abortion any different?
  • Fetuses are conscious in the womb and suffer during abortions Unborn babies have a certain level of consciousness in the womb. This is partly why mothers sometimes walk around with earphones on their stomachs. Irrespective of the level of consciousness of unborn babies, their central nervous system certainly affords them the ability to feel pain and suffer. For these reasons, they should not be aborted.
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Dignity of life: Does abortion uphold the "dignity of life"?

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Yes

  • Even if abortions "kill life", it can be justified as upholding a woman's life Even if a fetus is considered a "baby" or human life, abortions can still be justified. The "baby" is still not a citizen with rights, while it is in the womb. In this case, the woman's right to choose outweighs considerations of the life of the fetus. The life of the woman takes precedent over the life of the fetus. This is pro-life (pro-the-life-of-the-woman) and so respects the dignity of life.
  • There is no inviolable "right to life" in abortion and other cases. It is clear that the notion of "the right to life" can sometimes be violated for certain ends. This is the case in sending soldiers to war. So as in abortion, it can be justified to kill a fetus under certain circumstances.
  • Hypocritical to protect fetuses, but casually wage war Rick Claro - "George W. Bush will protect your unborn fetus, then send your grown child to die in war."[5] This is a common argument that undermines the notion of "the sanctity of life" and the notion that it is "inviolable". Clearly, in war, humans frequently justify killing other human beings.
  • In a free society, abortion is truly a matter of personal belief. The issue of abortion debates the question of whether or not the unborn child is a human being, or at what point it becomes so. This question cannot be answered for the collective body of society, rather should be answered by the individual based on personal and religious beliefs. If an individual believes that an unborn child is a human being, then the "right to life" term can be justified by that individual for their own personal choice. If an individual believes that the unborn child is not a human being, then there is no justification for laws to prohibiting an abortion. Therefore It should be argued that this is an issue for the individual; that an individual seeking an abortion has their own responsibility to be informed thoroughly about the matter, but should never be forced to agree or disagree.
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No

  • No one argues that an acorn or even an animal fetus has a “sanctity” or rights. No, human beings are entirely different class. We are called not to murder human life, not acorns. Abortionists focus only on stage development and ignore the specialness and reverence we should have for even a tiny (but growing) human life.
  • Human life is continuum; doesn't start/stop at conception George Carlin, comedian - "People say 'life begins at conception.' I say life began about a billion years ago and it's a continuous process."[8] Therefore, you can't call a fetus something other than life; it is part of the long continuum of human life and must be fully respected as such.
  • Abortions encourage infanticide Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984. - "Late-term abortions, especially when the baby survives, but is then killed by starvation, neglect, or suffocation, show once again the link between abortion and infanticide. The time to stop both is now."[9]
  • Abortion is murder just as infanticide is murder It cannot be said that the abortion of a nine-month-old fetus is much different than the killing of a three day old baby. Neither then can much difference be given to aborting a nine-month-old fetus and a month-old fetus. If infanticide is murder, so too must be abortion.
  • Killing helpless fetus is incomparable to death of willing soldier. How can you compare an unborn baby to the willing beings that fight in wars they have choosen the fate of going to war and the know of the harsh consquenses that may follow. A baby on the other hand is born into the world if permitted not of their own free will but of the mother's decision to abort or have the child.
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Safety: Are abortions safe? What about legal versus illegal abortions?

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Yes

  • "Back alley" abortions are more frequent when abortion is illegal. Back-alley abortions are abortions performed illegally on the "black-market" when abortion is generally illegal. Back-alley abortions are less regulated and more likely to result in the death or harming of the mother.
  • Legal abortions safer than black market abortions Mary Calderone, founder of SIECUS and medical director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, "Illegal abortion as a public health problem," American Journal of Public Health, July 1960 - "90% of illegal abortions are being done by physicians. Call them what you will, abortionists or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such; . . . They must do a pretty good job if the death rate is as low as it is . . . Abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous, because it is being done well by physicians."[10]
  • Abortion is no more risky or harmful than ordinary birth. While abortion has it's risks, it's important that we compare it against the alternative, which is going through with giving birth. This probably entails just as many risks, if not more, as an abortion.
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No

  • Abortions are very risky and hazardous to the women Warren Hern, abortion practitioner and author of Abortion Practice (1990), the textbook most widely used in the United States to teach abortion to medical personnel - "In medical practice, there are few surgical procedures given so little attention and so underrated in its potential hazard as abortion."
  • Preventing "back alley" abortions are no reason to legalize abortion. That the illegality of abortion may lead to back-alley abortions is not a reason to legalize abortion. This argument has nothing to do with the core moral principles underlying the debate (regarding life and rights), so should not be considered.
  • Abortions are emotionally and psychologically unsafe. If by 'safe' you mean that a woman can survive, then the answer is possibly. A woman can have even multiple abortions and live through each. But if by 'safe' you mean that she will experience no physical, emotional, or psychological harm, then the answer is no. She will spend the rest of her life dealing with the myriad of consequences of the abortion by constantly shoving the rattling skeletons back into the closet. And will daily seek expiation, or seek to justify herself. In any case, none of these leaves a woman 'safe'.
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Life-style: Does abortion improve the ability of women to live life how they want?

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Yes

  • Abortion allows women to become better people without a child Rachel Kramer Bussel, "I'm Pro-Choice and I Fuck", Village Voice, January 13, 2006 - "I'm pro-choice because I couldn't fully enjoy sex were I consumed with worry about the potential consequences. I'm pro-choice for all my friends who've had abortions and gone on to do great things, who are better women for being childless (for now). I'm pro-choice for the new moms and dads I know who were able to actively choose to become parents. I'm pro-choice for all those babies... born knowing they're 100 percent loved and wanted."[11]
  • No woman "wants" an abortion; it is only the least bad alternative Women do not "want" abortions. They find themselves in a position in which abortion is the less bad between bad alternatives. This argument is important in explaining that abortion is not about a malicious desire to "kill babies" or even to express their right to choose; it is about allowing women to make the best choice that they can.
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No

  • Abortion advocates wrongly value "quality of life" over "sanctity of life" Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984 - "As a nation, we must choose between the sanctity of life ethic and the 'quality of life' ethic. I have no trouble identifying the answer our nation has always given to this basic question, and the answer that I hope and pray it will give in the future."[13]
  • Child-rearing is a beautiful, natural process, not a burden Victoria Woodhull, first woman to run for U.S. President, member of the Equal Rights Party, in Woodhull's and Claffin's Weekly (September 23, 1871). - "Child-bearing is not a disease, but a beautiful office of nature. But to our faded-out, sickly, exhausted type of women, it is a fearful ordeal. Nearly every child born is an unwelcome guest. Abortion is the choice of evils for such women."[14]
  • On abortion the issue is when love not life begins Robert Casey, former Governor of Pennsylvania - "When we look to the unborn child, the real issue is not when life begins, but when love begins."[15] The point is, since we should be capable of loving a fetus (a human being in the making), we should subsequently provide that being with rights and protections. It matters not what we call the unborn child (a "baby", "human", "life"); as long as we love it, we should protect it. And, an attitude and life-style of love and acceptance is superior to an attitude and life-style of fear and regret.
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Child-hazards: Is abortion a means of avoiding hazards for child?

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Yes

  • Child protection. Many pregnant women who want to undergo abortion were physically and sexually abused and thus they do not wish a child became a party to such abuses. Most women would like to protect their child or potential child from enduring the suffering to which they themselves are exposed - and if this is not possible, these women would go for an abortion.
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No

  • The child's life is being taken away. His or her life is gone before he or she has gotten a chance to live. That is the ultimate injustice, hazard.
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Depression: Are women usually content with a past decision to abort?

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Yes

  • Post-abortion syndrome is not a medically recognized syndrome: The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association do not recognize PAS.
  • It is better to regret not having a child than regret having one It is clear that abortion is a choice between evils. Therefore, the question is not whether a woman will regret having an abortion; she will. The reason abortion is justified is that a woman will sometimes regret having a child more than she will regret having an abortion. Abortion is sometimes justified as the better choice between evils.
  • Many women are disturbed by their abortions but remain pro-choice Rosemary Candelario, director of Massachusetts Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, September 2001 - "I think the fear in the [abortion rights] movement is if we admit abortion is hard for some women, then we're admitting that it's wrong, which is totally not the case. I've heard from women who are having problems dealing with their abortion who are still ardently pro-choice."[16]
  • Risk-taking and disorders lead to abortions; not the opposite This argument is partly a response to studies that claim that there is a correlation between abortion and mental disorders. The point is that this might be true, but the causality of this correlation must be determined. It may be that those with existing mental disorders are more likely to take risks that lead to the need for abortion, and that this is the explanation for the correlation, rather than that abortion leads to mental disorders.


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No

  • Abortion often leads to regret, depression, and even mental illness Carol Everett - “The product, abortion, is skillfully marketed and sold to the woman at the crisis time in her life. She buys the product, finds it defective and wants to return it for a refund. But, it's too late.”[17] These feelings of regret often lead to depression and sometimes to a condition known as "post-abortion syndrome".
  • Alcoholism and drug-use are common after abortions. There are many reports of woman falling into not only depression, but spates of alcoholism and drug-use after having abortions.
  • Fewer women would have abortions if they knew what they were doing Bernard Nathanson, former abortion doctor turned pro-life, in his book Aborting America, 1979 - "Fewer women would have abortions if wombs had windows."[18] After the abortion, women are confronted with a much more profound sense of the reality of what they have done and what they have lost. This often triggers depression.
  • The lives of women have been destroyed by abortion, not enhanced Norma McCorvey, the anonymous litigant known as "Jane Roe" in the landmark abortion case, Roe vs. Wade in her book Won by Love (June 17, 2003) - "One of my most important activities is that I am involved, together with Sandra Cano of Doe vs. Bolton, in the efforts of the Texas Justice Foundation (and other groups) to work for the reversal of the Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton decisions. The approach we are taking is to show that the lives and rights of women have not been advanced or enhanced, but rather destroyed, by abortion-on-demand. We are collecting affidavits from women who have been harmed by abortion, from women who are convinced that authentic feminism is pro-life, and from professionals who know that Roe has weakened the moral fabric of the legal and medical professions."[19]
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Unwanted/adoption: Is abortion OK in dealing with "unwanted" children? Vs. adoption?

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Yes

  • It is better to seek abortion than neglect a born child It is unfair to give birth to a child that will be neglected, underfed, under-educated, and that will likely lead an unfulfilling life. It is also better for society for fetuses to be aborted that are brought up poor and neglected. Not only will the child suffer, but society will suffer when that child develops a higher attraction to crime, welfare, etc.
  • Adoption is too risky making it a poor alternative to abortion Kristin Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood (1984) - "Having a baby and giving it up for adoption, as pro-life people advocate, is not seen by most pro-choice people as a moral solution to the abortion problem. To transform a fetus into a baby and then send it out into a world where the parents can have no assurance that it will be well-loved and cared for is, for pro-choice people, the height of moral irresponsibility."[20]
  • Adoption does not spare a women the pains/risks of childbirth. One of the main reasons that an abortion makes sense is that it spares women of the pains and risks of child-birth. Adoption does not spare women of these pains and risks, and so fails to address a central rationale underlying abortion.
  • Adoption can be as emotionally damaging as abortion. Giving up a child for adoption can be just as emotionally damaging as having an abortion. It is, therefore, not necessarily easier on the mother.


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No

  • Unborn life should never depend on whether it is "wanted" Graciela Olivarez, Chicana civil rights and anti-poverty activist, 1972 - "The poor cry out for justice and equality, and we respond with legalized abortion. I believe that in a society that permits the life of even one individual to be dependent on whether that life is ‘wanted’ or not, all its citizens stand in danger...We do not have equal opportunities. Abortion is a cruel way out."[21]
  • "Unwanted" children can be adopted; abortion is unnecessary Mother Teresa of Calcutta quotes (Albanian born Indian Missionary and Founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity. Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979. 1910-1997) - "These concerns (for orphan children in India and elsewhere in the world) are very good, but often these same people are not concerned with the millions that are killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today, Abortion...For the pregnant women who don't want their children, give them to me."[22]
  • Support can be given to women who can't support a child Ronald Reagan, "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation", Human Life Review, Spring 1984. - "As we continue to work to overturn Roe v. Wade, we must also continue to lay the groundwork for a society in which abortion is not the accepted answer to unwanted pregnancy. Pro-life people have already taken heroic steps, often at great personal sacrifice, to provide for unwed mothers."[23]
  • Abortion is not a just response to social problems facing the unborn If a child is likely to face social difficulties, this is absolutely no reason to seek an abortion. The notion that a child will be unhappy due to these conditions or will have no chances of success is ludicrous. It is easy to find examples of poor and neglected children that have grown up to become thriving, successful, and happy adults. In any case, if social problems are the concern, these problems should be addressed; abortion is a terrible band-aid. Saying that a child would encounter social problems during his or her development is not the same as saying that he or she is better off dead.
  • Abortion deprives couples that want to adopt of a potential child. There are many infertile couples around the world or people that would simply like to adopt children. Abortion deprives these people of a child.
  • A woman must bear the pain/risks of birth; the life of the fetus is worth it. If the woman was the only consideration in abortions, than it might make sense for them to avoid the pain of child-birth. But, her interests are not the only ones in play. The life of the fetus is very important as well. Preserving the life of the fetus is worth the risks and pains incurred by the woman in child-birth.


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Emergency: Is abortion justified in order to save the life of a mother?

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Yes

  • It is just for a mother to abort a fetus to save herself In such cases of medical emergency and in the interest of saving a women's life, surely it is permissible to abort the fetus. To argue otherwise would be to uphold the rights of the unborn over the living, which is wrongheaded and immoral.
  • Legal abortion protects women with serious illnesses that are vulnerable. Tens of thousands of women have heart disease, kidney disease, severe hypertension, sickle-cell anemia and severe diabetes, and other illnesses that are made worse by childbearing. Legal abortion helps women avert these unavoidable risks to their health and lives.
  • If abortion in self-defense is OK, a fetus cannot have a general right to life Opponents of abortion often argue that a fetus has an inviolable right to life. Yet, it is easy to demonstrate that this is not the case. It is always permissible to take a life in self-defense. This principle can be applied to abortion. And, importantly, it also demonstrates that there is no such thing as an "inviolable right to life". There are always conditional exceptions. So, if we can show that the conditions are appropriate (even beyond self-defense), an abortion can be justified, even if it is "killing".


[Add New]

No

  • A child should not be killed to save a mother: Whilst these are different circumstances, and such medical emergencies are tragic, it is by no means obvious that the abortion is to be performed. The ‘mother vs. child’ dilemma is one which defies solution, and aborting to preserve one of the lives sets a dangerous precedent that it is acceptable to kill a person in order to save another. This is a clear, and unpalatable, case of treating a human-being as a means to an end.
  • Abortions under "trying circumstances" are the exception not the rule Most abortions are performed entirely voluntarily by women that have the means to raise a child, but simply don't want to. While emergency abortions or abortions under trying circumstances such as rape are held out as reasons to continue to have abortions, they are infrequent and serve more to provide cover for voluntarily "life-style" abortions. This is wrong.
  • Letting a woman die is better than directly killing an unborn baby There is a difference between letting a woman die from the presence of a fetus and the process of giving birth and actively killing a fetus. One is "letting die", the other is "killing". The distinction is important, and is a good reason to oppose abortion even during special emergencies.


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Rape: Should instances of impregnation through rape justify abortion?

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Yes

  • Abortion must be justified in cases of impregnation by rape Woman, and in some cases girls, who have been raped should not have to suffer the additional torment of being pregnant with the product of that ordeal. To force a woman to produce a living, constant reminder of that act is unfair on both mother and child.
  • Rape is an arbitrary exception; abortion must be available in all pregnancies. Many opponents of abortion allow for abortion in instances of rape. But, this assigns rights arbitrarily to the unborn "bastard child" as compared to an ordinarily-conceived child. It confers lower rights on the unborn "bastard child". This is wrong. The solution, though, cannot be to ban abortions even in cases of rape. Instead, the solution is to legalize all forms of abortion.
  • Abortion prevents victims of rape from becoming unready mothers| In cases where the rape victims cannot afford or is not ready to have a child, abortion can do both the victim and the unborn baby a favour. There are cases where school students are impregnated through rape. Pregnancy itself is a constant reminder of the sexual assault their underwent and might cause emotional instability, which will affect their studies, and subsequently their future. Moreover pregnancy might even affect the health and growth of the young girls. Besides, babies born to unready mothers are likely to be neglected or would not be able to enjoy what other children have, be it due to financial reasons or the unwillingness of the mothers to bring up the "unwanted children".


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No

  • Rape does not qualify abortion; it is not the child's fault; abortion is still murder. Denying someone life because of the circumstances of their conception is unfair. They had no say in these circumstances, and were, instead, simply given life. It does not matter what the conditions of this life were. It is still wrong to kill life, particularly an unborn baby.
  • A rape victim can put their baby up for adoption. Why can't a rape victim put their child up for adoption? Isn't this an adequate resolution to the problem? The only reason it might not be an adequate resolution are the risks and pains of child-birth and perhaps the difficulty of separating from the child. But, these objections are easily dealt with. First, maintaining the life of a fetus is worth the pains and risks that it might cause the mother. Second, there is no difference in separating from an unborn child (abortion) as compared to a born child (adoption).
  • Having an abortion is just as wrong as the rape itself. The child has a right to life just as much as that woman had the right to not be raped. Her rights were violated by the rapist. Aborting the child would be violating the child's right to life. I certainly feel deeply for anyone in such a position, but that doesn't mean I would sympathize with them enough to believe they have the right to then cause harm to another. A woman's body is required to produce life, therefore an unborn child has no other option then to rely on her, no matter the reason for conception. The rapist made a choice based on his own selfish feelings and beliefs in what he was entitled to, isn't that exactly what happens when we allow abortion as a "choice?"


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Exploitation: Does abortion protect or expose women to sexist/sexual exploitation?

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Yes

  • If women (not men) are solely burdened by pregnancy, they must have a choice. Men are dominant in their ability to impregnate a woman, but carry no responsibilities afterward. If woman carry the entire burden of pregnancy, they must have a choice.
  • It is odd to defend the dignity of a fetus over a child-rearer There is a peculiar double standard being applied by opponents of abortion. The dignity of the fetus is glorified, while the dignity of the child-rearer is seemingly ignored and even trampled. This is particularly concerning when more men appear to support abortion than woman; it appears that men are more willing to trample the child-bearer (a woman) than the child.


[Add New]

No

  • Rejecting abortion and going through with pregnancies empowers women Patricia Heaton, Emmy-winning actress, Washington Times, (April 14, 2005) - "The early feminists found abortion to be the ultimate exploitation of women. [Women had to] become men to compete. We bought into that. We're smarter today. It's more empowering to go through with your pregnancy."[25]


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Birth control: Is abortion an important safety net to birth control? Is it an alternative?

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Yes

  • Abortions are mostly sought when birth control fails Clayton H. McCracken, director of Inter Mountain Planned Parenthood, Fall 2000 - "Most of the patients come to our abortion clinic as a result of failure of a birth control method, or a failure of our system to provide birth control."[26]
  • Abortion is just when birth control fails (involuntary impregnation) If a woman does not voluntarily choose to seek a pregnancy, it is impossible for a fetus to have any claim over the woman's body. Only when the woman participates voluntarily in creating a life, does she open the door to any responsibilities to the fetus or to any rights that the fetus may have over the mother. If a pregnancy is a result of an accident (the failure of birth control), it cannot be called voluntary. Therefore, the fetus cannot be said to have any rights over the mother's body, and abortion can be said to be justified.


[Add New]

No

  • Abortion is wrongly sought as an alternative form of birth control Kristin Luker, Taking Chances: Abortion and the Decision Not to Contracept (1975) - "In short, there are no empirical grounds for assuming that women have an à priori preference for contraception over abortion."[27] In other words, women see abortion as a suitable alternative to birth control.
Abortion shouldn't be a form of birth control when other forms are readily available. With contraception being so effective, unwanted pregnancies are typically a result of irresponsible sexual behavior. Such irresponsible behavior does not deserve an exit from an unwanted pregnancy through abortion.


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Child disability: Is abortion justified when an unborn child suffers a disability?

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Yes

  • Abortion is justified when the fetus is certain to suffer and die from a disability: Finally, due to advances in medical technology it is possible to determine during pregnancy whether the child will be disabled. In cases of severe disability, in which the child would have a very short, very painful and tragic life, it is surely the right course of action to allow the parents to choose a termination. This avoids both the suffering of the parents and of the child.


[Add New]

No

  • What right does anyone have to deprive another of life on the grounds that they deem that life as not worth living? This arrogant and sinister presumption is impossible to justify, given that many people with disabilities lead fulfilling lives. What disabilities would be regarded as the water-shed between life and termination? The practise of eugenics is roundly condemned by all civilised countries.
  • The fact that a child is likely to have a short life does not justify further shortening it: When you see someone who has very little, do you take away all he has? The short life expectancy of a disabled child does not justify his deliberate killing!
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Viability: Is viability a good cut-off point for abortion?

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Yes

  • Viability is a good cut-off for when abortion is appropriate or not. Anthony Kennedy, U.S. Supreme Court, speaking for the Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992) (joint opinion coauthored with Justices Souter and O’Connor) - "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life....[P]eople have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail…. We conclude the line should be drawn at viability, so that, before that time, the woman has a right to choose to terminate her pregnancy....[T]here is no line other than viability which is more workable. To be sure, as we have said, there may be some medical developments that affect the precise point of viability, but this is an imprecision within tolerable limits....A husband has no enforceable right to require a wife to advise him before she exercises her personal choices."[28]


[Add New]

No

  • A line on "viability" is arbitrary; from conception humans are always increasingly "viable" It is faulty to claim that a fetus can achieve "viability", where it becomes an independent creature and worthy of some rights. Humans are always increasing in their independence and ability to survive. In modernity, children cannot survive on their own into their teens.
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Enforcement: Would a ban on abortion be unenforceable?

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Yes

  • A ban on abortion presents practical problems of enforcement: Enforcing an abortion ban would require a quite degrading and inhumane treatment of those women who wished to have their foetus terminated. Moreover, if pregnant women traveled abroad, they would be able to have an abortion in a country where it was legal. Either the state takes the draconian measure of restricting freedom of movement, or it must admit that its law is unworkable in practice and abolish it. The ‘third way’ of tacitly accepting foreign terminations would render hypocritical the much-vaunted belief in the sanctity of life. In addition, the demand for abortions will always exist; making abortion illegal, will simply drive it underground and into conditions where the health and safety of the woman might be put at risk.




[Add New]

No

  • Difficulties of enforcement should not diminish the principles of the law: Many laws have difficulties pertaining to implementation, but these do not diminish the strength of the principle behind them: people will kill other people, regardless of your legislating against it, but it does not follow that you shouldn’t legislate against it.


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Doctors: Are the doctors that perform abortions OK with their act?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Doctors that have difficulty performing abortions still acknowledge its importance. Many people have trouble with parts of their profession. A general, for instance, has trouble sending his troops to their death, but typically acknowledges the need for this to occur in certain instance. Abortion doctors, similarly, might be challenged by the process of an abortion (and even believe that they are "killing" the fetus), but nevertheless acknowledge the need for abortions and so are comfortable with their profession. The difficulty doctors experience in performing abortions, therefore, is not an argument against abortions.


[Add New]

No

  • The Hippocratic oath forbids doctors from performing abortions Hippocratic Oath, attributed to the school of Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” circa 400 B.C. - "I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion."[30]



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And death penalty: How can people be anti-abortion but pro death penalty?

[Add New]

Yes

  • It is contradictory to oppose abortion while supporting capital punishment. Loesje, Dutch Fictional character "Active and International girl", b.1983 - “How can anyone be against abortion but for the death penalty”[31]


[Add New]

No

  • An abortion kills innocents; capital punishment kills the guilty There is no contradiction between opposing abortions and supporting capital punishment, as many conservatives do. An abortion involves killing an innocent fetus, whereas capital punishment involves killing a guilty, terrible human being. One involves killing an unborn baby with the potential to contribute positively to society, the other kills a human being that has demonstrated themselves unfit to live in society. The real inconsistency is in supporting abortion while opposing capital punishment.


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Eugenics: Is it wrong to equate abortion with Eugenics?

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Yes

  • The reproductive rights movement has no genocidal drive: No serious proponents of abortion are out to kill all embryos. Furthermore, it is an insult to the memory of the alive and conscious human beings murdered by the Nazis to equate them with embryos for anti-abortion propaganda.


[Add New]

No

  • Abortion is a form of eugenics and mass murder Norman Haire, letter to the editor, Birth Control Review, (July, 1930) - "For those who cannot be educated, sterilization or legalized abortion seems to be the only remedy, for we certainly do not want such stupid people to pollute the race with stupid offspring. The defective conditions of life call urgently for improvement."[32]


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Racial equality: Is abortion important to maintaining racial equality?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Poor women are disproportionately deprived choice when abortion is illegal. Poor woman are most susceptible to circumstances in which abortion is necessary. If abortion is illegal, therefore, this socio-economic group will be disproportionately affected.


[Add New]

No



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Crime: Does abortion help reduce crime?

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Yes

  • Abortion is more likely to wipe out the bad than the good. This argument is based on the premise that poverty and conditions conducive to crime often correlate to those that seek abortions. Stephen Levitt of Freakonomics makes this argument. He contends that the 1973 Roe. v. Wade legalization of abortions led to the fall in crime rates in the 80s and 90s across the United States. The period of declining crime, he says, correlated to the period when those that were aborted might have otherwise become criminals in society as a result of their circumstances.




[Add New]

No

  • It is wrong to consider abortion a tool in crime prevention Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, from the essay Where Have All the Criminals Gone? Want to understand what made the crime rate drop in the 1990s? Look back to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 - "To discover that abortion was one of the greatest crime-lowering factors in American history is, needless to say, jarring. It feels less Darwinian than Swiftian; it calls to mind a long ago dart attributed to G. K. Chesterton: when there aren’t enough hats to go around, the problem isn’t solved by lopping off some heads. The crime drop was, in the language of economists, an 'unintended benefit' of legalized abortion. But one need not oppose abortion on moral or religious grounds to feel shaken by the notion of a private sadness being converted into a public good."[33]



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Activism: What are the arguments for and against certain activist-styles in this debate?

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Yes

  • Pro-life militant groups act violently in opposition to abortion. Many pro-life activists act violently in opposition to abortion. There are many examples of the bombing of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics and the harassment of abortion workers. This is wrong, and undermines the case against abortion.


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No

  • Pro-lifers are justified in showing gruesome images of abortions. These images reflect the reality of what is being done with abortions. They are, therefore, appropriate to show, lest we believe that it is better for women to be ignorant of the reality when they are confronted with the choice of having an abortion.
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Social: What are some of the other pro/con social utility/cost arguments?

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Yes

[Add New]

No

  • Abortion undermines the dignity of life, promotes violence Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Missionary and Founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity. Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979. - "If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people to not kill each other? Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want."[34]



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Faiths: Where do the various faiths generally stand on the issue?

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Yes

  • Judaism holds that life begins at birth and abortion is not murder
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No


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US Constitution: Is abortion consistent with the US constitution?

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Yes

  • The right to abort does not depend on its explicit constitutional provision Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade, "A Delicate Decision", Westchester County Weekly, (January 22, 1998) - "The word 'privacy' does not appear in the Constitution. Then again, neither does 'travel.' But if you were to ask any American, 'Do you have the right to travel where and when you like?' they'd say 'yes.' And the Supreme Court has upheld this right."


[Add New]

No

  • The US Constitution does not explicitly confer a right to abortion Byron White, U.S. Supreme Court, one of two dissenters in Roe v. Wade, (January 22, 1973) - "I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the court's judgment. The court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes."[35]
  • The Declaration of Independence states we have a right to Life (Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness). One of the intentions of our founding documents, in describing our inalienable rights in liberty, is that a one person or group of people cannot exercise tyrannical power to take Life away from another person or group of persons.
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Historic opinion: Has abortion been supported historically?

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Yes

  • Pro-choice uphold democratic principles of free choice. America was founded upon the principles of freedom of religion. As a fetus cannot exist independently from its mother, it is the woman's extremely personal decision that must remain between herself,and her higher power. Just as churches cannot be forced to marry homosexuals, other citizens cannot determine what is indeed a religious decision on the part of a female.


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No

  • Abortion has been opposed by important figures throughout history Synod of Ancyra canon XXI, circa 314 - "Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them until the hour of death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use somewhat greater lenity, we have ordained that they fulfill ten years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees."[36]
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Internationally: Where do country policies stand in this debate?

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Yes

  • Canada allows for abortions on demand.


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No

  • In Nicaragua abortions are always illegal.


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Pro/con organizations

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Yes


[Add New]

No

  • American Life League
  • Catholics United for Life
  • Democrats for Life
  • Feminists for Life
  • Jews for Life
  • Libertarians for Life
  • LifeLinks
  • National Coalition for Life and Peace
  • National Right to Life
  • Operation Save America
  • Priests for Life
  • Pro-Life Alliance of Gays & Lesbians
  • Pro-Life America
  • Republican National Coalition for Life
  • Reformers for Life Assembly
  • Roe v Wade.org
  • Susan B. Anthony List
  • Ultimate Pro-Life Resource Page
  • Women and Children First
  • Democrats for Life of America


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Public opinion: Where do publics stand on this issue?

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Yes

[Add New]

No


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Pro/con videos

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Yes

"Pro Choice". Posted on YouTube December 12th, 2006.


What Does It Mean to be "Pro-Choice?". December 18th, 2007.[37]


"Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer on abortion rights". Posted on YouTube December 12th, 2007.

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No

"Pro-Life / Pro-Choice: you NEED to see this". Posted on YouTube March 31, 2007[38]

"Pro-Life Anti-Abortion Video - 4D Proof Abortion is Murder"[39]

"Abortion -This is a Suction Abortion" Posted on YouTube March 29th, 2008.[40]

"Kayla - I found out I was pregnant". Posted on YouTube, May 23rd, 2007.[41]

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Pro/con resources

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Yes


[Add New]

No

See also

External links


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