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Safety of Women
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An abortion is a procedure to end
a pregnancy. It uses medicine or surgery to remove the embryo or fetus and
placenta from the uterus. The procedure is done by a licensed physician or
someone acting under the supervision of a licensed physician.
The decision to end a pregnancy is very personal. If you are thinking of having an abortion, most healthcare providers advise counseling.
A polarising issue
The abortion debate deals with the rights and wrongs of deliberately ending a pregnancy before normal childbirth, killing the foetus in the process.
Abortion is a very painful topic for women and men who find themselves facing the moral dilemma of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. It's one of the most polarising moral issues - most people are on one side or the other, very few are undecided.
The primary questions
The moral debate about abortion deals with two separate questions:
The secondary questions
But those two questions don't end the debate.
If we conclude that abortion is not morally wrong, that doesn't mean that it's right to have an abortion; we need to ask whether having an abortion is the best thing (or least bad thing) to do in each particular case.
If we conclude that abortion is morally wrong, that doesn't mean that it's always impermissible to have an abortion; we need to ask whether having an abortion is less wrong than the alternatives.
The two sides
On one side are those who call themselves 'pro-life'. They say that intentionally caused abortion is always wrong (although it may on very rare occasions be the best thing to do).
On the other side are those who call themselves 'pro-choice' or 'supporters of abortion rights', and who regard intentional abortion as acceptable in some circumstances.
The silent 'victim'
People feel particularly strongly about abortion because there is no way of getting any opinion from the foetus - the potential 'victim' - about the issue (as there is when considering euthanasia), and because the foetus can easily be portrayed as an entirely innocent and defenceless being.
The non-religious argument about abortion covers several issues, such as:
The problems can be restated in terms of the sort of decisions that pregnant women and their doctors have to face:
The case against abortion
The most common form of the case for banning abortion goes like this:
If we follow this argument and accept that a foetus has a right to live, then we face part two of the problem:
Beware of the hidden issues
Wrapped up in the ideas above are some issues that need to be dealt with separately...