Abortion is a much-argued medical procedure that has been the subject of legal debates as well as medical developments. The decision to have an abortion once raised legal issues, but this was changed with the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Roe’s argument that most laws against abortions violated a constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment resulted in the legalization of abortions (Cornell Law School).However, although most legal and medical issues have been argued and decided upon, women today contemplating an abortion still must consider the consequences in terms of physiological consequences and ethical concerns, and both must be addressed when a decision is made to abort a fetus. In this essay I will examine both the physiological and ethical consequences one must consider when contemplating an abortion along with the question of who is considered to be a persons. There are different methods of abortion, and so different consequences for the women who make use of those methods.According to Dr. J.
C. Willke, there are three main categories of abortions; the first category includes invading the uterus and killing the fetus by instrument through the cervix. Suction aspiration is the common form of this type of abortion during the first 12 weeks. This procedure involves inserting a tube through the cervix and sucking the fetus out.
One major consequence to instrumental abortion is the result of infection if not all fetal remains are removed. This required full dilation of the cervix and the scraping out of the womb leaving the woman in...
more pain and a longer recovery period.Another category of abortion is inducing birth by the use of different drugs. Saline injections are injected into the fetus resulting in the poisoning and the birth of the dead fetus.
According to Dr. Willke, there have been many cases where the baby is born alive and left to die. There is also a risk of death to the mother along with numerous physical and mental problems. Prostaglandin Chemical Abortion causes the uterus to contract intensely, pushing out the developing baby.The contractions are more violent than normal, natural contractions, so they frequently kill the unborn baby. However, there have been cases where they have also been born alive (Abortion Methods).
Induced abortion from the drug known, as RU486 seems to be a relatively unobtrusive procedure that has few unpleasant consequences. A study by the World Health Organization showed satisfaction ratings among fifty participants were high in not only new abortees but also those who compared the RU486 to previous surgical abortions.In their study, the authors reported 35 of the participants having acceptable levels of pain and discomfort, while only 19 experienced mild discomfort and pain. The author’s evaluation showed high levels of satisfaction that they thought might be interpreted as an indication of good care. It was found that the women’s physical and emotional status immediately after the abortion were not as good as before the occurrence of the pregnancy, but at the same time, none of the women self rated their conditions as poor, reinforcing the idea that induced abortion is a
relatively benign procedure.Pre-pregnancy health status was a very strong predictor of post abortion status, and it was not the procedure per se, but the condition, both physical and emotional, of the woman before the procedure that seemed to be of critical importance (Mamers, Pam M).
The last category that Dr. Willke describes is the invasion of the uterus by abdominal surgery in the last three months of surgery. Unlike the Caesarean delivery, the umbilical cord is cut while the baby is still in the womb, thus cutting off his oxygen supply and causing him to suffocate.Sometimes the baby is removed alive and simply left in a corner to die of neglect or exposure. Along with the moral issues of allowing a delivered child to die (which we will discuss later), there is also the threat to the mother including distress to the uterus, hemorrhage, septicemia and even death.
Although many doctors agree this is a perfectly safe procedure, numerous studies show that there is a post abortion as well as a postpartum depression that may affect women.In some parts of the world, 27 to 35 per cent of all maternal deaths can be attributed to abortion complications, though this is much less likely in more modern American medical facilities (Mason, Kate and Grey, Dale). There are many ethical questions when it comes to abortions. One question asks “Is it morally wrong in every case to kill another human being, or are there instances in which taking another human being’s life is justified? ” Moral philosophers have wrestled with this issue for centuries.The issue may be understood as it is above, that killing is morally wrong, or it may concentrate on specific instances which some believe alter the moral equation, such as in war, for purposes of euthanasia, or most recently, with reference to the issue of abortion. Of course, the latter involves the further question of when human life begins so that the killing of a fetus can be considered the killing of a human being.
First there is the argument of what constitutes a human being. There are many theories on life. Some believe that life begins with the first breath and end with the last.This leads to the question of a breath. Is a child’s assisted breath through the umbilical cord the first breath or the first unassisted breath the real breath? Some believe that conception is the beginning of life while others like H. Tristram Engelhardt jr believe that life begins somewhere after birth.
Engelhardt states that “ .. The start of biological life in not the beginning of the life of a person as a moral agent. Rather, in human ontogeny months of biological life transpire before there is evidence of the life of a person as a moral agent.As a result, the moral status of zygotes, embryos, fetuses, and even infants is problematic in the general secular morality. ” To Engelhardt, a person cannot be considered “persons” until they are able to make decisions, give permission and convey authority.
He asks, “What of animals, trees, and the environment? ” “It is only persons who reflect
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