Abortion - for or against

Essay by NeshaBGCollege, Undergraduate May 2007

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Abortion is an ugly word, perhaps principally because of its etymological roots and its usual contextual associations. Its etymology evokes images of a sunrise stifled, a growth repressed, a beautiful possibility obliterated. Its associations are with blood, elimination, failure, secrecy and guilt.

The clinically euphemistic "termination of a pregnancy" popular in the West among those many otherwise doubtless admirable persons who call themselves "pro-choice", hides the tragic dimension of this act - because abortion is an act, the consequence of a decision, and not something that just happens normally (like the weather, or dying of old age).

It is true that good reasons can often be found to justify the tragic decision to abort a fetus, although some people believe even better reasons can be found to preserve its life. So-called "pro-choice" campaigners emphasize such issues as the potential mother`s physical and psychological health and economic well-being, the future child`s right to a secure home - even the father`s right to choose who shall be the mother of his child.

The present writer has on occasion been treated like a sperm-bank waiting to be robbed! And a woman who has been raped can claim that since she should not have been raped, the fetus should not exist. Even a theologian as rigorously uncompromising on sexual matters as Saint Augustine of Hippo argued that the soul did not enter the embryo till the fourth month.

It cannot be denied, however, that generally speaking the consequences of an abortion are sad not only for the fetus, who recent research confirms is to some degree sentient, but for everyone concerned - except, of course, the abortionists (abortion is a most profitable industry!). Many couples break up after an abortion; and some women harbour secret guilt till the end of their lives,