The issue of abortion and how it relates to moral principles is an ethical issue as it is an interference with the natural, causing many disagreements with views on the rights of those involved including both parents and the unborn child; as well as moral principles and religious views. Ethical, meaning relating to a moral principles. Therefore abortion being an ethical issue due to the various viewpoints around the issue causing great disagreements. The main viewpoint I will be analysing is that of the Catholic Church. The church’s view, different views within the church and views from outside the church.
Abortion is a termination of pregnancy deliberately. This is usually carried out during the first trimester (before the 12th week of pregnancy), this is a time before the fetus can live independently outside of the mother. The procedures used for this termination are medical abortion and surgical abortion. Medical abortion occurs during the first 49 days of pregnancy. Medical abortion consists of the use of two different drugs. These drugs are Methotrexate or mifepristone, which causing the embryo to detach from the uterine wall. Two days later it is followed with misoprostol which causes the uterus to expel the embryo.
However misoprostol alone is successful 90% of the time. If this is not effective you can try again 3 days later. Misoprostol causes contractions in the womb which can lead to painful cramps, vaginal bloody loss that is more than the usual menstruation, nausea, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. If these symptoms last more than 24 hours, temperature reaches higher than 38? C, pain in the belly, belly feels sore or tender, bleed for excessive amounts of time or potent discharge you may have an infection. Although this is rare it is still a complication of medical abortion that has a slight chance of occurring.
Another complication that could occur is an incomplete abortion. This means that the process was only partially successful and therefore no fetus will develop however your body has only expelled part of the tissue and pregnancy products – similar to a miscarriage. Rarely, a vacuum aspiration or curettage or dilation and curettage which are surgical interventions may be required to remove contents of the uterus. Surgical abortion can be performed within the first trimester. The most common procedure is the vacuum aspiration involving anaesthesia.
The cervix is gently dilated, which may cause a sensation similar to menstrual cramping, a narrow tube is inserted through the vagina and cervix to the uterus so then pregnancy and contents of the uterine internal lining are vacuumed out. The risks involved with this are side effects including nausea, cramping, sweating and feeling faint. Rare side effects are heavy or prolong bleeding, blood clots, damage to the cervix and perforation of the uterus. Infections can occur due to remaining tissue or due to an STD or bacteria that has been introduced into the uterus, these can cause fever, pain, abdominal tenderness and potential scar tissue.
Dilation and extraction is another surgical procedure. This involves a luminaria to be inserted vaginally to dilate the cervix two days before the procedure. This causes the water to break on the third day. The fetus is rotated and forceps are used to grasp and pull the legs, shoulders and arms through the birth canal. A small incision is made at the base of the skull to allow a suction catheter inside. The catheter removes the cerebral material until the skull collapses. The fetus is then completely removed. The side effects are the same as dilation and evacuation.
However, there is an increased chance of emotional problems from the reality of more advanced fatal development. Pros of Abortion:
•If a woman is at risk of dying in the birthing process •Gives women control of their own bodies
•Modern procedures are generally safe (very rare for bad side effects)
•Potentially aid in avoiding mental health issues rather than being denied
•Abuse victims especially in minors
•If the baby would not have a good quality life such as diseases that will cause the child to live a life of suffering Cons:
•Some consider abortion to be murder •Issue’s around human rights
•Defies the word of the Lord Problems around mental health issues, especially if it is a late abortion, unwanted haunting memories
•In unfavourable scenario’s it can lead to health complications, in rare, worst case scenario being death This is therefore an ethical issue due to the process of abortion interfering with natural processes. There are various opinions around this topic due to the ethics around this issue as in some cases it is viewed as inhumane etc. these views include religious views. In this case focusing on the overall view as well as different views from within the Catholic Church, and those from outside the church.
There are various arguments around the right of those involved, such as both parents as well as the rights of the unborn child. This in particular relates back to ethics as many consider the unborn fetus to be human, and in that case have its own rights. There is also the great factor that there can be complications involved. To begin with, views from outside religious traditions, historically the romans and Greeks didn’t place high importance on protecting the unborn. If they were to object to abortion this would be because the father didn’t want to be deprived of a child he felt entitled to.
Also there were the early philosophers who argued that a fetus didn’t form till at least 40 day after conception for a male and 80 days for female. “…when couples have children in excess, let abortion be procured before sense and life have begun; what may or may not be lawfully done in these cases depends on the question of life and sensation. ” – Aristotle, Politics 7. 16 (philosopher) Again in western history, abortion was not considered criminal if carried out before the “quickening” – before the fetus is moved into the womb between 18-20 weeks in pregnancy.
Before this it was considered a part of the mother so therefore the destruction of such had no ethical problem. This is similar in English history where after this time of ‘quickening’ it was considered criminal but the seriousness varied. “…if the doctor is of the opinion, on reasonable grounds and with adequate knowledge, that the problem consequence of the continuance of the pregnancy will be to make the woman a physical or mental wreck, the jury are entitles to take that the doctor…is operating for the purpose of preserving the life of the mother. – Mr. Justice Macnaghten (judge, British) The abortion act of 1967 situated in England allowed abortion if two doctors agree: “that the continuance of the pregnancy would invoke risk to the life of the pregnancy woman, or the injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family, great than if the pregnancy were terminated”
Or That there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped” In America by 1900s abortion was illegal everywhere unless it was in order to save the life of the mother. In 1973 it was reviewed and made legal in the US facing restrictions once again in 2003. People in general often argue that doctors are not “to play God” and that it’s for God to decide matters on life or death.
However people could also say that all medical interventions are “playing God” so therefore view from outside the church says that arguments which refer to God and medical interventions are ‘unconvincing’ to those who do not believe. Moral philosophers have argued that consciousness only begins after birth or even later so therefore fetus are not full human beings with human rights. While others argue that a woman has full right over her own body which overrides the unborn fetus.