Abortion is a highly controversial issue in today’s society, not only in New Zealand but internationally. On the basis of an Unfamiliar Text read in class expressing the legalities of abortions (Is Abortion Law due for a shake up? – A Sunday Star Times article) I decided to undertake further research on the topic. The article piqued my interest as it had many relevant points encompassing various societal issues that I hadn’t given much thought to before. Thus I decided to further research and base my report on the topic of abortion as I felt the need to expand my knowledge of the subject to become more socially aware of the issue of abortion. I had no previous knowledge and due to it becoming an increasingly present issue in today’s society I believe that it would be beneficial to understand the opposing viewpoints. I wanted to look into the controversial issues that surround abortion, how legal restrictions may potentially implicate the future of abortions and lastly, what are the advantages and disadvantages of having an abortion. Throughout, I intended to use several different sources to ensure the breadth of my report and ensured the reliability of these sources by looking at well-known and respected databases.
I thought it useful to first define abortion so that I could add vital context to what I was researching. Abortion is the procedure of terminating an un-wanted child and can be performed in two different ways, a medical abortion and a surgical abortion. The type of abortion performed is dependent on the trimester the mother is in at the time of her abortion, meaning how far along in the pregnancy she is. I attempted to encompass the large amount of differing viewpoints that people hold into two main viewpoints in an effort to be able to compare and contrast them effectively for my research purposes. The two main viewpoints that I defined for abortion were prolife and prochoice. Prolife means that abortions can only be performed on women who have experienced rape or an incestual conception along with the termination of a baby that may affect the mother’s health. Prochoice is the judgment that pregnant woman have the right to terminate their child for what ever reason they, personally, see fit. Both procedures have advantages and disadvantages that can potentially affect the future of the individual and of course the unborn foetus.
What are the key controversial issues surrounding abortion?
Before I began researching this question I understood that many young women think of an abortion as a quick fix, a sort of late birth control. I began with the understanding that irresponsible sex is now seen as less of a concern in young people as an abortion is a readily available option. Due to this lowered level of concern surrounding abortions there has been a large increase in controversial issues surrounding whether an abortion is humane. Abortions in recent times are deemed as societally acceptable, which can have a negative impact on adolescent individuals as they do not have to fully take responsibility for the weight of their actions when abortions are so easily accessible to them. The ease at which these youths are having abortions is portrayed in the 2011 survey carried out by ‘The Independent’, which states “that 30 % of woman who have an abortion are 14-19 years old.”
Many abortions are a cause of casual sex as teenagers and young adults are having flippant one-night stands, when resulting in unwanted pregnancies they turn to abortion. In 2010 statistics 3.9 per 1000 woman under 16 have abortions, 16.5 per 1000 woman under 18 have an abortion (The independent) these are astoundingly high results. Only furthermore expressing the irresponsible behavior of juveniles that may be compounded by the fact that they can have abortions easily in society today. In addition it has been stressed that because of such actions the child’s (foetus/embryo) rights have been exposed and consequently violated. Another issue intertwined is how long after gestation is it morally unjust to terminate a foetus/baby. Prolife activist Congressman Chris Smith says, “There is substantial evidence that by this point [20 weeks], unborn children draw away from surgical instruments in a manner which in an infant or an adult would be interpreted as a response to pain,” (TIME). Many more believe that an abortion is murder, arguing that a foetus is able to feel pain during an abortion.
Prochoice activists argue, “Abortion is not murder because it is performed before a foetus has developed into a human person” (http://www.balancedpolitics.org/abortion.htm). This statement begs the question when is a foetus a human person? Where do we draw the line? I was horrified that such a debate would be going on at the same time such procedures are being practiced everyday (125 000 abortions performed daily according to WorldOMeters). Many medical professions and biologist have argued the stage at which an embryo is classified as living and is thus receptive to pain. Due to the stage at which an abortion is performed it is suspected that the foetus will be imperiled to torture. While I do hear both view points my fundamental opinion remains prochoice as I believe that ultimately it was the woman’s actions, thoughts and viewpoints that led her to be in the position of being pregnant so it should be the women’s and only the women’s actions, thoughts and viewpoints that influence her own decision as to whether she, herself is capable of having a baby.
Although my viewpoint hasn’t changed from thinking that some women use abortion as a quick fix, in fact it has become stronger after viewing the above statistics. I still believe that if the women herself wants to abort the child she should be able to, as it is her body and her choice, I do, however, believe that restrictions should be tightened around the stage at which a woman can have an abortion legally. This was a new viewpoint that I gathered from my research, as I hadn’t thought about the different stages of pregnancy and how they relate to whether an abortion should be performed. It was in this way that the research helped me to develop my own personal viewpoints about abortion.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of an abortion?
Before embarking on my research I was unknowing of the extent the effects of an abortion have on women physically and mentally. When having an abortion most individuals don’t understand the extremity of the short and long-term effects that an abortion can induce. While researching I found a reliable, factual website contracept.org providing various pros and cons of abortions. Short-term effects are mainly physical such as cramping, bleeding/spotting, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Through http://abortionclinics.ca/abortion-risks.shtml I found that perforation of the uterus and cervical lacerations are most commonly presented in woman that have undergone an abortion. Using the website abortion complications I found out that it occurs in 1/20 abortions performed, caused by the application of suction; initiating a 50/50 chance for a miscarriage in the next pregnancy. The long-term effects of these punctures and lacerations can result in premature births and labor complications in future pregnancies.
Long-term, abortions can have a large impact on future pregnancies and subsequently cause psychological issues. Another common occurrence is an ectopic pregnancy. The embryo develops outside the womb; statistics show that after one abortion you are 30% more prone to its occurrence whereas after two or more abortions you have an increased percentage of 160% (http://www.abortionfacts.com/literature/abortion-complications). Additionally women who have had two or more abortions have double the average miscarriages in their first trimester in future pregnancies. More pressingly using the website afterabortion I was astounded by the saddening effects abortion has on an individual’s mindset. Individuals that have had an abortion have an increased suicide rate of 3.4 (after abortions.org) than females that haven’t experienced an abortion. To elaborate the negative effects that abortions have on the metal wellbeing of the individual it is reported that 25% of women who have had abortions have had appointments with a psychiatrist compared to ‘3% in a controlled group’.
Abortion is evidently linked with increasing levels of drug and alcohol abuse, violent behavior and depression re-laided in post-abortion trauma subsequently showing in an amplified rate of child abuse (http://afterabortion.org/2012/abortion-risks-abortion-complications-abortion-dangers-abortion-side-effects/). There are minute positive effects to negative but when researching I have come to the conclusion that the positives take a larger toll on your life than the negatives. In studies shown by DataBlog it cost $431,600 (NZD) to raise a child to 21 years old, so an abortion will aid in the economic stability of your future, not only but according to The BLOG many woman who by-pass children are more successful in their field of work: “Children can restrict you from living the type of life you want to live — especially if that life includes a high-powered career requiring long hours and travel.”
After researching the negative and positive effects that an abortion has on an individual I was appalled, as my perception of an abortion was very different to the reality. I initially perceived abortion as a one-day procedure with no after-effects. I was further shocked by how the choice to have an abortion can potentially affect the rest of your future. I believe that after looking at many different sources I comprehensively understand the complexity of the issue and can therefore continue to develop my own viewpoint on abortion everyday.
How will legal restrictions affect the future of abortions?
With many prolife activists seeking abortions laws to be reformed, I believe that the future of abortions will change but not to the extreme of making abortions illegal. Sourcing my information from ‘Family Planning’ and ‘Abortion services in New Zealand’ I am now aware that in New Zealand abortions are legal if they abide by a-set criteria. Whether or not the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape or how old the mother is, according to Crimes Act 1961. Using the article ‘What if abortions were legal? By Libby Anne’ there are many viable outcomes stated that are occurring in America due to the movement of prolife in politics. Many abortion clinics around America have been shut down, with the recent closing of 5 clinics in Louisiana that don’t comply with the new bill. Prochoice activist say that this is an outrage and the bills intention is not invested in the woman’s safety but in making abortions illegal (Huff Post).
As a result according to Love, Joy, Feminism there has been an increased rate of complications for women such as an increase in abortion inducing drugs and ‘back alley’ abortions being performed resulting in greater harm to women than an abortion. This is backed up further as Jennifer Dalven, director of American civil liberties union says “In fact, major medical groups like ACOG and AMA oppose these laws because they actually harm women by preventing them from getting high quality medical care”. Further restrictions will only accelerate this trend additionally, with reference to ‘Abortion rates continue to rise’- The independent Anna Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory quotes “one third of women in their reproductive lifetime will require an abortion”.
I believe that this is a direct influence of the new bill being passed making it harder for women to find a provider, therefore partaking in dangerous procedures to terminate their child. Not only but National President Morgan Healy’s assertion: “It’s not right that New Zealand still classes abortion under the crimes act” this resides with me deeply, as abortion is always under scrutiny; it is legal and a daily procedure around the world and I believe it shouldn’t be classified as a crime. I think that increasing such restrictions will have a very negative impact on society with progressively worse outcomes. From my research my opinion has been swayed that with such a growing movement for abortions to be banned it may be plausible.
When I set out to find an answer to my prevailing question; whether abortion is humane or not, I did not expect that my opinion would alter: I used to support prochoice with the judgment that an abortion was acceptable and that woman should have all rights over their body, but through researching I now understand that the mother’s choice to have an abortion retracts the child’s rights. I don’t think that diminishing a woman’s rights to have an abortion will have a positive effect on society with an estimated increase in ‘back alley’ abortions. I believe that the way to improve the situation is have narrower restrictions cutting down on women eligible to undergo the procedure.
I think that this will be beneficial as abortion is currently seen as contraception, which in my opinion is not acceptable. Through such measures, I think that there would be a decrease in the number of abortions carried out, thus forcing sexually active females and males to be more conscious of their actions. Overall I believe that my opinion slightly altered on the issue while still supporting prochoice, as I was exposed to many opposing opinions that shaped and largely influenced my perspective whether an abortion is humane or not.