Anger may also be directed at general society or circumstances that prevented the woman from having an optimally healthy pregnancy or from being able to provide a child with a healthy and wholesome environment in which to grow and flourish. All these issues could have severe post-abortion effects upon women who undergo the procedure. On the basis of these findings, the authors recommend that abortion should not be legalized.
Another version of the human rights argument is espoused by Pruss (2001), who focuses upon the fetus as a person with an identity. Pruss considers that the fetus, at the point of conception, is not a physical part of the mother's identity any more than it is part of the father's. In other words, the fetus is as separate entity, although for the first nine months of its life it is dependent upon its mother for its continued life. Although it is growing within her body, it is not part of her body in the same way that her arms or legs are her body parts. As such, the argument that the woman should have sovereignty over her own body and life does not apply to her unborn child, who has its own rights to sovereignty over its body and its life.
To me, this is the strongest argument against abortion that I have encountered thus far. It is indeed true that a child, once it is created in the whom, begins its life cycle as a human being. Its life does not belong to its mother or father; it is hence the right of the child to live and have the opportunity to make the most of that life.
Part III: Synthesis
All the above arguments raise strong issues when considering abortion and its legalization. Most of the above arguments are however focused upon abortion itself and why it is wrong in principle. I do not contend that abortion is not morally questionable or indeed that it does not constitute murder. My argument is however that, in certain circumstances, abortion is indeed the best or even the most desirable option.
In terms of the last argument raised above, for example, Pruss (2001) holds that, because a child's life is not the parents' life, it has its own right to life and should therefore not be murdered by abortion. I agree that the child's life is not that of the parents. However, the child's life does belong to the parents until the child is old enough to live on its own and make its own way in the world. Until that time, parents generally tend to make most decisions for their children. Generally, these decisions are based upon what the parents believe would be best, given the circumstances and resources available to them.
Although it is not ideal in terms of the right to life, abortion is sometimes the only way that parents can see as fit in terms of their circumstances and resources. Not have legal recourse to medical professionals who would provide abortions would not deter such individuals from seeking the help they believe they need, and then with all the potentially hazardous consequences mentioned above.
Grimes et al. (2006: 4) for example hold that legalizing abortion would have a positive effect upon women's sexual and reproductive health. Many countries for example allow induced abortions on grounds such as women's physical or mental health, as well as socioeconomic circumstances. If a mother to be can truly not care for herself, her existing children, or the unborn baby, surely an abortion should be allowed.
These are simply practical circumstances that must be considered in the effort to legalize abortion. The increase in the rate of countries allowing abortions are an indication of a general paradigm shift towards the legalization of abortion. It is a recognition of a need for women to have access to hygienic, professional services should they be in need of an abortion for whatever reason. The life of the child is indeed innocent, but in order to prevent suffering or harm, abortion is sometimes the only option.
Siegel (2007) argues strongly for the legal rights of women to choose whether to have an abortion or not. Indeed, she argues for this right in terms of placing women on equal grounds with men. According to Siegel (2007, p. 815-16), not legalizing abortion places restrictions upon women that are not concomitant to the legal obligations of men. As such, women are then in a particularly disadvantaged position regarding the law and the choices that they are allowed to make in legal terms.
Furthermore, the author holds that not legalizing abortion is prejudiced in terms of the sex roles that men and women play according to the customs of society. The law has no say over such roles and should therefore not impose on the rights of women to make decisions regarding their reproductive, home, and family lives. To do so would make the constitutional rights and equality of all citizens in the country questionable. Siegel (2007, p. 816) furthermore holds that the State has no right to impose rules upon the pregnancy of a woman, which is an intimate and personal experience. The author cites many legal grounds upon which abortion can be legalized, including the Due Process Clause, the Privileges or Immunities Clause, or the Equal Protection Clause under the Fourteenth Amendment. The author therefore shows that there are more than ample legal grounds upon which abortion should be legalized, particularly when considered in the light of a woman's personal experience of her pregnancy and the concomitant possibilities for her future.
As mentioned above, Donahue and Levitt (2003) have conducted empirical studies that found the legalization of abortion to relate positively to a lower crime rate. As mentioned above, the main reasons stated for this is that unwanted pregnancy can lead to criminal activities by desperate parents, and later to living as criminals for the children born to such mothers. The authors' study was conducted over several periods during the latter half of the 20th century, and showed conclusive results to the effect.
The fact that legalizing abortion could have significant effects upon the well-being of society is a practical point that must be considered, even if the right to life is considered sacred. As such, my argument is not the life is not sacred. All life is sacred, including that of unborn children. However, it is also an unfortunate fact that many of these unborn children arrive in a world filled with flaws and are born to less than perfect parents.
There will always be women in search of abortion, whether legal or not. Legalizing abortion provides control over its exercise. When it is not legal, women are endangered in terms of their reproductive and mental health of women, and often even in terms of their lives. Abortion should therefore be legalized in order to regulate it for the benefit of society.
BBC. (2010). Arguments against abortion. Ethics Guide. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/abortion/mother/against_1.shtml
Donahue, J.J. And Levit, S.D. (2003). Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime. The Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 34, No.1. Retrieved from http://epoca.globo.com/edic/465/artigo_aborto3.pdf
Fergusson, D.M., Horwood, L.J. And Ridder, E.M. (2006). Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Vol 47, No. 1. Retrieved from http://220.127.116.11/uca/common/grupo54/files/new_zealand_abortion_study.pdf
Grimes, D.A., Benson, J., Sing, S., Romero, M., Ganatra, B., Okonofua, F.E. And Shah, I.H. (2006, Oct.). Unsafe abortion: the preventable pandemic. The Lancet Sexual and Reproductive Health Series. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/unsafe_abortion/article_unsafe_abortion.pdf
Minnesota Family Institute. (2010). Arguments Against Abortion. Retrieved from http://www.mfc.org/legmanual/abortion%202.pdf
Pruss, A.R. (2001, Nov. 25). I was Once a Fetus: An Identity-Based Argument Against Abortion. Retrieved from http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/ap85/papers/IWasAFetus.html
Siegel, R.B. (2007). Sex Equality Arguments for Reproductive Rights: Their Critical Basis and Evolving Constitutional Expression. Emory Law Journal, Vol. 56, No. 4. Retrieved from http://www.law.emory.edu/fileadmin/journals/elj/56/4/Siegel.pdf