Abortion - An ethical issue.
The issue of abortion is one that has been dealt with intense fervor, contention and scrutiny over the years, often emerging as the epicenter of moral, legal, civil and political battles. At the heart of this dichotomous issue is a fundamental disagreement on the morality of abortion, the right to individual freedom and a theological disposition manifesting in a collusion of the separation of church and state. This essay attempts to throw light on the moral and social imperative - a cornerstone of most anti-abortionist arguments as well as reproductive freedom, a thought central to the pro-abortionist defence.
The term ‘abortion’ refers to the act of willful termination of pregnancy resulting in the removal
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In the light of moral personhood, the morality of an individual is an offshoot of his actions and duties in a community. In addition, his self-awareness and consciousness grants him the status of a rights holder. Having said that, the question one needs to ask is, when does a foetus possess the qualities of self-consciousness and awareness, the hallmarks of a rights holder? Philosophers and religious leaders differ in their opinions of when a foetus achieves personhood. Aristotle, based on his study of foetuses from miscarriages, believed that personhood occurred at about 40 days for males and 90 days for females. Early Catholic Church leaders agreed with Aristotle’s views, however, advances in the embryological discoveries led them to believe that personhood occurs at the time the sperm meets the egg. Another point of view elucidates that personhood is achieved in about 16 to 20 weeks of pregnancy when the mother perceives the movement of the baby. Yet another consideration in personhood is the idea of viability which implies that by around week 26 the fetus could possibly survive outside the womb if born prematurely. There have been numerous cases where prematurely born babies have survived. This shows that babies that have completed 26 weeks are self-sustaining and self-aware, and therefore, possesses the rights of a moral person. Lastly, modern research indicates that the characteristics that