Abortion is a very contentious issue and as such frequently comes up in debates. When taking part in a debate on abortion there are a number of topics that can be discussed. The aim of this short essay is to look at four of the most important. The author will not take either side, simply explain what the issues and arguments are.
Right to life
A powerful argument against abortion is that everyone has a right to life. Under this view a fetus, an embryo or in some religious doctrines even a newly fertilized egg is a human being with a right to live.
A counter to this is to argue that before a certain stage in development, usually set by law at around 20 weeks, the fetus lacks the attributes that define a human being such as self-awareness or the capacity to feel pain. They argue that while it is a potential human being it is not yet an actual one. It is also sometimes pointed out that around 25% of pregnancies spontaneously abort anyway.
It is often argued that women have a right to control their own reproductive capacity and that abortion is a vital tool for doing this. Proponents of this view state that nobody has the right to force a woman to undergo a nine month pregnancy, with all the accompanying discomfort and serious health risks, if she does not want to. Some say that the right to abortion is absolute and it is acceptable to use it as a method of birth control; other pro-choice advocates disagree but believe it should be available in cases where pregnancy will endanger the woman's health, the fetus has a severe congenital defect or the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
The anti-choice argument against that is that the woman's right to control her body does not take precedence over the fetus's right to life. Some extremists argue that even pregnancies resulting from rape are part of a divine plan.
Some anti-abortion activists argue that abortion may lead to depression and possibly suicide as a result of guilt...