Circumstances that warrant an Abortion

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Circumstances that warrant an Abortion

Photo: Activists with Planned Parenthood demonstrate in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion, outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington

Abortion is still a controversial topic, despite the advancement of democracy, and the freedom to choose what one wants. The scope of the debate on abortion ranges from insurance coverage for birth control to when and why a woman should have access to abortion. Some people say that a woman has a right, as granted by the Fourteenth Amendment, to privacy, which includes the right to have an abortion in private. The critics, however, argue that the state can intervene, because protection of human rights is the responsibility of the state. The debate on abortion escalated when the Trump administration repealed the law that allows employers to offer insurance coverage for birth control. According to President Trump, employers can deny women insurance coverage for birth control on religious grounds (Nintzel 1). The move by President Trump to scrap off insurance coverage for birth control has led to a hue and cry for the rights of women to access reproductive healthcare. The essay will address the question on when and why women should be allowed to access abortion services, which are part of reproductive healthcare. Women should be allowed to access abortion when; the life of the mother is at risk, the mother was raped, pregnancy results from incest and if and only if, and the pregnancy is in the first trimester.

A woman should be allowed to access abortion services when she risks dying by carrying the pregnancy. When the life of the mother is in danger, it is morally right to terminate the pregnancy and save the mother (Jones and Jerman 2). A mother may be in danger due to complications that result from the pregnancy, for example, an ectopic pregnancy. Healthcare providers usually assess the state of the mother and offer recommendations. In the worst cases, health care providers recommend the termination of pregnancy. While the decision to abort the child is painful, the parents need to make hard choices and save the mother. Therefore, terminating the pregnancy when the life of the mother is in danger is an exemption.

A woman should access abortion when the pregnancy results from rape. A woman may have been made to have sex against her will, maybe at gunpoint or forceful penetration while she is unconscious or drunk (Holmes et al. 10). Under such circumstances, a woman should be allowed to access abortion services because she got pregnant against her will. Furthermore, she may not recognize the father to the baby after giving birth. In the worst case, the mother may develop depression due to a pregnancy that results from rape (Gottschall and Gottschall 18). Rape occurs without someone’s consent, thus warranting the decision to terminate the pregnancy.

Abortion is morally permissible when the pregnancy results from incest. Incest involves sex between close relatives, for instance, brother and sister, mother and son, or father and daughter. Where the pregnancy results from incest, it is prudent to have an abortion to avoid biological complications in the child. Studies show that close relatives; more so family members can give birth to a child with complications due to genetic incompatibility (Jones and Jerman 9). Also, incest is morally wrong, and since the baby from incest is undesired, there is the need to terminate the pregnancy.

Abortion should be allowed if and only if, the pregnancy is in the first trimester. “If and only if” means that only when the condition holds, and not any other condition. The condition is that abortion should be allowed when the pregnancy is in the first trimester, that is, the first three months (Jones and Jerman 8). After three months, abortion should not be allowed no matter the circumstances under which the woman got pregnant. For instance, even if the pregnancy results from rape or incest, abortion is unwarranted after the first trimester. The state has the responsibility to protect the right to liberty, life, and the pursuit of happiness as ingrained in the Constitution. Once the pregnancy reaches the second trimester, the state recognizes the unborn baby as a person and protected by the law. Also, the State is interested in safeguarding persons, more than protecting the right to privacy.

The conservatives, who are the critics of abortion under any circumstance argue that abortion is murder, and there should be no exemptions. The opponents state that the Declaration of Independence granted everyone the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, abortion denies the unborn child the fundamental rights granted by the Constitution. The unborn baby has the right to life and should be allowed to enjoy life. There is a reason why everyone is born, even if one does not know the reason, it will one day come out vividly. Everyone is important, including the unborn who can become agents of change in the society (Berenson 1). For instance, the majority of the individuals who made a mark in the world are outliers, that is, people who did not conform to the social conventions. For instance, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple was an undesired child, and his mother put him on adoption. He went ahead to leave a dent in the universe by innovating typography, which other computer manufacturers copied. Had Jobs’ mother aborted him, computers could not have had the wonderful typography today.

The critics argue that where the life of the mother is in danger, the healthcare providers can look for alternative ways of having the unborn child grow outside the womb. For instance, the mother can undergo an operation and let the baby develop from an incubator. Technology is so advanced that it is possible for the baby to develop outside the womb. Therefore, the excuse for terminating the pregnancy because the life of the mother is in danger is not significant.

Although the concerns of conservatives are right as far as abortion is concerned, there is the need to see view the problem from both sides. The conservatives state that abortion is murder and there is no justifiable reason. However, approaching an argument in absolute terms blocks the opportunity to engage and reach a conclusion. The conservatives raise valid points, but close the window for reasoning and articulating ideas. The conservatives reject the circumstances under which the mother should have an abortion. The conservatives, therefore, are gamblers with life. They gamble and hope that in case the mother is in danger, she may get well. Such an argument is weak and violates the precepts of logic. For example, a healthcare provider examines a pregnant woman and notes that the mother is at risk if she carries the pregnancy for nine months. The healthcare providers give recommendations and alternatives, and the best option is to terminate the pregnancy. Refusing the decision to end the pregnancy puts the mother at risk.

From the utilitarian view, it is better to terminate the pregnancy and save the mother rather than losing both the child and the mother. The utilitarian theory states that an action is morally right when it leads to the common good for the majority (Jones and Jerman 11). Having an abortion when the mother is in danger leads to the common good of the family, especially, the husband and the children. The husband still needs the wife, and the children need their mother. The decision to terminate the pregnancy is hard to make, but the husband needs to step up and take the responsibility of making hard choices. The society has been shaped by individuals who refused to sit back and watch and decided to take the responsibility in their hands by making hard decisions.

The conservatives argue that the chances of pregnancy resulting from rape are insignificant. The critics state that conception cannot occur when the woman is traumatized. The research on conception, however, shows trauma is not a factor for fertilization. Therefore, fertilization of the egg still occurs when the woman is traumatized. The conservatives have no credible research to support the idea that conception rarely occurs when a woman is traumatized. According to Holmes et al., in the article, “Rape-Related Pregnancy: Estimates and Descriptive Characteristics from a National Sample of Women,” there is a significant frequency for the occurrence of pregnancy from rape. The study also shows that the majority of the rape victims (32.2%) do not know that they are pregnant until entering the second trimester (9). Research shows that the national rape-pregnancy rate is 5%, which is significant. Rape-pregnancy should be terminated in the first trimester, because of the related mental health problems to the victims.

The conservatives do not give reasons for keeping a pregnancy that results from incest. All that they say is that abortion is murder. They, however, do not consider the morality of the decision to keep a baby that results from incest. According to Alasdair MacIntyre, philosopher, and author of the book, “Dependent Rational Animals,” human beings can make rational decisions. In the case of incest pregnancy, a woman has the choice of keeping or terminating the pregnancy. However, the decision is tied to moral consequences. The conservatives may argue that while incest, the act is immoral, the result, the baby is innocent. The argument holds on emotional grounds but fails to hold in a utilitarian perspective.

Pregnancy should only be terminated if and only if it is in the first trimester. The conservatives should note that abortion is not encouraged entirely, but there are circumstances which permit abortion. Among the circumstances is the duration of the pregnancy. Under moral grounds and State laws, it is immoral to terminate pregnancy beyond the first trimester. When the pregnancy enters the second trimester, the unborn child falls under the care of the State, and the state carves away some of the privacy right, which might allow the woman to have an abortion.  The State becomes interested in the well-being of the child as a member of the State.

The circumstances which abortion should be allowed include; when the mother is at risk, rape and incest pregnancy, and when the pregnancy is in the first trimester. The critics should note that abortion is not allowed entirely, but there are circumstances under which abortion is warranted. The conservatives take a rigid position, which closes the ability to reason and reach a compromise. From the Utilitarian perspective, the health of the mother leads to the common good not only in the family but also in the society. Rejecting abortion as totally evil places women in jeopardy and is a slap in the face to the law which seeks to empower women and let them access reproductive health. The conservatives need to open up provide room for negotiation. The reason is critical for understanding each other’s view and addressing the issue of abortion needs an open mind.


Works Cited

Berenson, Tessa. “Donald Trump Supports Abortion Ban and ‘Punishment’ for Women.” Time.Com, May 2016, p. 1.

Coleman, Gerald D. “Pregnancy after Rape.” International Journal of Women’s Health and Wellness, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, doi:10.23937/2474-1353.

Dennis, Amanda, et al. “Strategies for Securing Funding for Abortion Under the Hyde Amendment: A Multistate Study of Abortion Providers’ Experiences Managing Medicaid.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 101, no. 11, Nov. 2011, pp. 2124–2149. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300212.

Gottschall, Jonathan A., and Tiffani A. Gottschall. “Are Per-Incident Rape-Pregnancy Rates Higher Than Per-Incident Consensual Pregnancy Rates?” Human Nature, vol. 14, no. 1, Mar. 2003, pp. 1–20.

Holmes, M M, et al. “Rape-Related Pregnancy: Estimates and Descriptive Characteristics from a National Sample of Women.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 1996,

Nintzel, Jim. “Future of ACA Remains Uncertain under a Trump Administration.” Inside Tucson Business, vol. 25, no. 2, Jan. 2017, p. 1.

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