In the past, prolife and prochoice groups have been locked in a vicious debate on whether or not abortion should be permitted. Both groups offer compelling and convincing reasons to back up their positions and for this reason, abortion remains a one of the most debated if not controversial issues today. Is abortion permissible on any grounds? What are the various arguments that have been advanced against abortion? Are these arguments compelling enough? In an attempt to provide answers to the questions above, I review some of the prolife arguments that have been presented in the past.
Abortion: Prolife Arguments
To begin with, it is important to note that although the Bible does not make direct references to abortion, it does underscore the value of life in no uncertain terms. In that regard, it would be prudent to submit that the Bible does indeed abhor abortion.
Some of the biblical positions that seek to restate the value of life and hence reservations against abortions can be found in the Old Testament. Psalms 139 is one of the biblical verses that speaks against abortion (albeit implicitly). In this particular verse, David acknowledges the role God plays in the formation of a baby in its mother’s womb. He says: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full wellâ€¦” (Psalms 139:13-16). From this particular verse, it is indeed clear that the Creator is actively involved in the formation of an individual right from conception. Aborting a fetus at any stage would not only be belittling the work of God, but also interfering with the same. Thus from a biblical perspective, a developing fetus must never be viewed as just mere biochemistry — it is God’s work in progress. Next, Genesis 1 explicitly points out that man was created in not only the image but also the likeliness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). In that regard, even the unborn child already bears God’s image. For this reason, abortion is inherently wrong in the eyes of God as all human beings (whether born or unborn) are equal and fully human before him.
The New Testament also presents some arguments and instances that could be taken to mean that from a biblical perspective, abortion cannot be permissible. For instance, it should be noted that in the New Testament, Jesus was recognized by John the Baptist before he was even born — i.e. while he was still in the womb of his mother (Luke 1:35-36). This is one of the clearest indicators that from a biblical perspective, no clear distinction exists between a fully grown individual and a baby that has not yet been born. If it is wrong to take the life of a fully grown human being, it cannot be regarded right to kill an unborn baby. In Matthew, it is written, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12). If we were not aborted when we were in our respective mothers’ womb, why should we then promote or support the abortion of the unborn?
Impact on General Wellbeing
In seeking to further reinforce the prolife position, it would be prudent to also point out that abortion does impact negatively on the general well-being of the individual procuring the same.
To begin with, it is important to note that some medical arguments have been presented in the past against abortion. One of these arguments is that abortion could negatively affect the physical health of the mother. According to Goldman, Troisi, and Rexrode, although induced abortion is widely regarded safe most particularly in the U.S., the same still carries some risk of complications (243). Some of the possible complications according to the authors include “uterine perforation and cervical lacerations” (Goldman, Troisi, and Rexrode 243). Abortion could also be injurious to psychological well-being of the mother. According to Lamanna and Riedmann, there is no doubt that abortion could end up being an upsetting experience (241). After procuring an abortion, the authors point out that “some women report feeling guilty or frightenedâ€¦” (Lamanna and Riedmann 241). Such experiences could be a source of intense emotional anguish and distress.
Abortion could also adversely affect the economic well-being of a woman. Firstly, women typically incur a wide range of direct expenses prior to, during, and after an abortion. Fees for a surgical procedure according to Carroll “usually include an examination, laboratory tests, anesthesia, the procedure, and a follow-up examination” (381). As the author further points out, the said costs could escalate if abortion is carried out in a private practitioner’s office. Secondly, abortion could also have indirect cost implications. This is more so the case when the individual procuring an abortion finds it difficult (due to emotional anguish or otherwise) to engage in other meaningful activities including but not limited to education. Other indirect costs in this case include but they are not limited to “medical costs of postabortion psychological problems, infertility, and increased cancer risk” (Woodard and DeMint 147). Abortion therefore goes against the best interests of those who procure it.
Moral and Ethical Arguments
Abortion could also be faulted from a moral and ethical perspective. To begin with, abortion goes against the basic ideals and values of the society. As one of the values of a progressive society, equality has got to do with the enhancement of sameness. A society that embraces abortion disproportionately represents the rights of one group of persons against those of another. In this case, the unborn are effectively denied the right to life. Permitting abortion also threatens justice which is yet another social ideal. A society that regards itself just cannot permit the killing of a living being — whether born or unborn. Abortion is essentially infanticide (Jordon 59).
Yet another moral argument against abortion is that in most cases, the same can be avoided. One of the ways in which abortion could be avoided is by promoting adoption (Guy 136). In this case, a woman could always give birth and then proceed to give up the unwanted child for adoption. Pregnancy prevention is yet another early-stage measure that could be taken to avoid abortion. Various forms of contraception could be used in this endeavor. This is more so the case given that it has been demonstrated that the need for abortion is reduced by the use of contraceptives (Rengel 52).
Based on the arguments presented above, it is clear that prolife adherents do indeed have a strong case against abortion. Indeed, the various antiabortion arguments presented are a clear indication that abortion is not only unjust but also ungodly. For this reason, abortion should both be discouraged and censured.
Carroll, Janell L. Sexuality Now: Embracing Diversity. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.
DeMint, J. And David Woodard. Why We Whisper: Restoring Our Right to Say it’s Wrong. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., 2007. Print.
Goldman, Marlene B., Rebecca Troisi, and Kathryn M. Rexrode., eds. Women and Health. Waltham, MA: Academic Press, 2012. Print.
Good News Bible. 2nd ed. New York, NY: American Bible Society, 1994. Print.
Guy, Mallard. Bloodshed Before Birth: America’s Choice. Oklahoma: Tate Publishing & Enterprising, 2011. Print.
Jordon, Anne. Christianity and Moral Issues. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd., 1999. Print.
Lamanna, Mary a. And Agnes Riedmann. Marriages, Families, and Relationships: Making Choices in a Diverse Society. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
Rengel, Marian. Encyclopedia of Birth Control. Arizona: The Oryx Press, 2000. Print.
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