How are religious and ethical principles used in the abortion debate?
Abortion has been legal in the United Kingdom since the Abortion Act of 1967, which was further amended in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990, lowering the length of pregnancy in which it is legal to have an abortion from 28 weeks to 24 weeks, owing to advances in medicine and a decrease in the age of viability of a foetus. There are four criteria which allow women to have an abortion, as long as they have the consent of two doctors, involving risk to the physical or mental health of the mother or the foetus or mental health of any existing children. In 2004, 95% of abortions in the UK were certified under the statuary ground of risk of injury to the
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JJ Thompson uses a second analogy to support her pro-choice stance, in an imagined world where pregnancy occurs when tiny pollen seeds land on soft furnishings. A woman likes having the window open so she takes precautions by putting a fine wire mesh over it to stop the seeds getting in, however one seed does get in and she becomes pregnant. Therefore, a woman who does not want to get pregnant only has two options, to keep the window closed (abstain from sex) or to have all the furnishings removed (have her womb removed). Thompson argued that if a woman has taken reasonable precautions to avoid getting pregnant then she shouldn’t be held responsible and should be allowed an abortion. Finally, she uses a third analogy to show how unreasonable it is that the foetus should have rights over the mother. An intruder enters the house because the window is left open and is asked to leave but refuses because he has the right to stay because he was able to get in. Thompson says that therefore the foetus, like the intruder in the analogy, has no rights to your body, however, in the analogy the intruder is consciously committing a crime whereas a foetus is an innocent being that hasn’t chosen to be created and inside the mother. The intruder is also given a chance