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Abortion Dilemna Essay, Research Paper

ABORTION: All sides of the issue

Overview of abortion: An unsolvable dilemma?

How often: In the United States, women choose to end about 25% of their

pregnancies through abortion. 1 This number has been gradually declining

since 1979. This is similar to the Canadian figure of 21%, 2 but is much

lower than that of the former Soviet Union (60%) and Romania (78%) where

contraceptives are in short supply.

Opposing beliefs: A social consensus exists that when life becomes

human life, that the human being must be protected. Many religions,

organizations and individuals have passionately held but conflicting beliefs

about when human life begins. This naturally leads to opposing policies on

whether a woman should have access to abortion. In spite of what the media

might say, this struggle cannot be reduced to a simple pro-choice vs. pro-life

conflict. There are people within each “side” who take many slightly

different positions.

To most pro-lifers, life becomes human life at the instant of

conception. Thus, they see an abortion clinic as the ethical equivalent of a

Nazi death camp. To pro-choicers, human life begins later in gestation or at

birth. They view abortion as a civil rights matter — a decision that should be

left up to an informed woman and her physician. The objectives of both

groups are the same: to reduce the number of abortions, and to make any

needed abortions safe. However, they have very different methods of

achieving their goals, and they have divergent beliefs about which abortions

are justifiable. They are thus unable to cooperate. That is, in our opinion, a

pity. With the energy, knowledge and ability that each side has, they could

make major reductions in the abortion rate if they were able to cooperate.

Status: In the U.S., the pro-life and pro-choice movements are both

powerful and active. At this time, compromise appears to be impossible.

In Canada, the pro-life movement has lost most of its funding and

does little more than conduct candle-light vigils, and issue press releases.

With the exception of news about a lone, anti-abortion, November 11th

assassin, abortion rarely is discussed in the media. The country does not even

have a law controlling abortions.

Terminology: Various pro-life and pro-choice groups have different

definitions for words such as pregnancy, human life, abortion, etc. This

causes immense confusion. We will use the generally accepted medical

definitions in this series of essays.

There are two inconsistencies in the “pro-life” stance taken by many


In christians there appears to be relatively little mention of IUD’s

(Intra-uterine devices). The precise mechanism by which IUDs prevent

pregnancy is unknown. Some researchers believe that the IUD immobilizes

sperm, preventing them from reaching the ovum;

Others believe that it causes the ovum to pass through the fallopian tube so

fast that it is unlikely to be fertilized

Most believe that the IUD interferes with the implantation of fertilized

ovum in the uterine wall.

If the third property is true, then IUDs terminate the development of a

fertilized ovum after conception, and cause its expulsion from the body. To a

person who believes that life becomes human life at the instant of

conception, there is no ethical difference between using an IUD, having a

first trimester abortion, or having a partial birth abortion. Yet pro-life groups

actively campaign against PBA’s, picket abortion clinics, and attempt to pass

restrictive legislation limiting choice in abortion.. Some have made negative

statements about IUDs. But none have, to our knowledge, picketed IUD

manufacturing facilities, or sponsored anti-IUD legislation. This is

surprising, because in those countries where IUDs are widely used, the

number of fertilized eggs which IUDs apparently expel from women’s bodies

far exceeds the number of surgical abortions. About 43% of American

women will have had a surgical abortion sometime during their lifetime;

about the same percentage of women who use an IUD will expel a fertilized

ovum every 6 months (assuming that they engage in intercourse once per


At no time in the history of the Church have an embryo or pre-viable fetus

been considered full persons to the extent of being worthy of a formal

requiem mass or formal burial service.

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