Abortion: Pro-Choice Argument Ever Since the Landmark Term Paper

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Abortion: Pro-Choice Argument

Ever since the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, abortion has been the source of heated debate in the United States. On one hand, the religious right-funded anti-abortion "pro-choice" lobby has continually attempted to undermine the Roe ruling through state legislation seeking to exploit any perceived legal ambiguities; on the other hand, pro-choice proponents seek to prevent religious radicals from injecting their religious beliefs into what is (or, at least, what should be) strictly a personal secular issue.

Legal challenges to Roe have included state statutes requiring parental and spousal notification and mandatory waiting periods as reconditions of terminating a pregnancy medically. At the same time, the quasi-terrorists who purposely disrupt business at licensed medical facilities by tormenting patients arriving for treatment assert that First Amendment rights protect their intrusions into private affairs of others that are already emotionally difficult enough as "free speech." In several high-profile cases, religious fanatics have actually attempted to prevent patients from entering the facilities, fire bombed medical clinics, and purposely published the private information of physicians in the deliberate hope of inspiring vigilante attacks on them. In at least one relatively recent instance, they succeeded, with deadly results.

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TOPIC: Term Paper on Abortion: Pro-Choice Argument Ever Since the Landmark Assignment

The primary source of moral objection to abortion is the general religious prohibition against birth control by any means, and the specific religious belief that human life begins at conception. Because the United States Constitution guarantees religious freedom and the separation of Church and State, both views are perfectly acceptable as private religious expressions, and neither view is appropriate for inclusion in any way in secular laws that restrict the rights of others who do not share those religious beliefs. To understand the indefensibility of allowing the religious belief about the origin of life to shape secular law, one need only consider the perfectly analogous situation of criminalizing male masturbation, which is also specifically prohibited by the Catholic Church because it constitutes the "sin" of spilling seed instead of multiplying fruitfully.

Undoubtedly, a fetus does become a person sometime well before birth, at which point it is entitled to the same protections of law as it enjoys after birth. However, for the purpose of defining where "personhood" begins in-utero is an objective issue best left for secular science and medical ethicists rather than ancient religious dogma to determine. In all likelihood, there is no specific moment in time where the fetus makes the transition from non-personhood to personhood. First, fetal development (like post- birth development) occurs in stages and not sudden "instants"; second, as with later development, specific individuals grow, develop, and mature at different rates. Roe preceded the evolution of advanced medical technologies capable of determining exactly where specific elements of human consciousness emerge, but in principle, Roe relies on this distinction as expressed in three trimesters of human gestation.

Moral Issues and Modern Medical Ethics:

Whereas the legal rights of the unborn fetus depend on the stage of "viability" outside the womb, the moral issue depends more on consciousness than on viability. In principle, the source of moral concern for the fetus is based on its ability to perceive pain and on the distinction between pre-consciousness and consciousness. Philosophers have long-challenged the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Abortion: Pro-Choice Argument Ever Since the Landmark."  Essaytown.com.  November 14, 2007.  Accessed December 2, 2021.