Advantages and Disadvantages of Abortion

Abortion has been a subject of debate and controversy in many societies throughout history. Pro-life (anti-abortion) and pro-choice advocates (advocates for legal access to abortions) have their justifications for their stand. However, abortions are quite common even in places that consider them illegal. So, let us look at the arguments for and against abortion.

WHAT IS ABORTION?

Abortion is the delivery or expulsion of the human fetus prematurely before it is capable of sustaining life. It is the ending of a pregnancy at any period of gestation (the period between conception and birth) short of the full term. About 56 million induced abortions (deliberate steps taken to end a pregnancy) occur on an average worldwide every year. It is among the safest procedures in medicine if done by a professional. There are several foolproof as well as foolish methods for abortions. Medication or surgical removal of the fetus are examples of modern methods of abortion. There are also several questionable traditional methods attempted using herbal medicines, sharp tools, and other hazardous equipment. 

The health impact of abortion depends on how the said abortion was performed. Hence, there has been a demand for safe and legal abortions across nations. 

TYPES OF ABORTIONS

There are two main types of abortion – induced abortion and spontaneous abortion.

Induced abortion is the type of abortion where a pregnancy is terminated with the use of drugs or surgical intervention after implantation and before the embryo or fetus becomes viable. An induced abortion can be therapeutic in response to a health condition of the woman or fetus and it can be an elective process that is performed at the request of the woman for personal reasons. 

Spontaneous abortion is when the expulsion of the embryo or termination of the pregnancy is unintentional. Causes for spontaneous abortion include trauma, stress, infection, abnormalities of the uterus, or other hormonal problems among other things.

There are several methods of carrying out an abortion. These include medical abortion using an abortion pill and surgical or in-clinic abortion.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Abortion

ADVANTAGES OF ABORTION

Agency Over One’s Body

One of the most important advantages of abortions is that it gives a person agency and autonomy over their bodies. According to the International Conference on Population and Development, 1994 under the United Nations Population Fund, every individual has the recognized human right to decide freely and responsibly without coercion and violence the number, spacing, and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. Every woman has the right to control when and whether to have children. This is important to ascertain their unbridled independence and future. Giving birth to a child is a big commitment. Therefore, only the birth-giver should have the choice to make the final decision.

Unsafe Abortions

Access to safe and legal abortions could lead to a decrease in unsafe abortions. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that between 2010-2014, there were about 25 million unsafe abortions worldwide annually. Unsafe abortions occur when there is a lack of necessary skills and an unsanitary environment during the termination of pregnancy. It also includes instances where it was self-induced due to societal pressure or pregnancy out of wedlock. Financial burden and social stigma can drive desperate women to opt for unsafe abortions to prevent unwanted pregnancies. So, safe abortions could reduce maternal injury and even death caused by illegal and unsafe abortions. They are a public health risk that can only be curbed if it is legal and accessible everywhere.

Sexual Violence

There are instances where women experience unplanned pregnancy resulting from sexual violence. These women did not freely agree or consent to sexual contact and so they require medical, clinical, and legal support during these trying times. Various countries like Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil permit abortions in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape. Therefore, women must have control over this decision as they are the victims and survivors of sexual violence.

Safe

The risks of abortions are far lesser than the risk of giving birth. It is one of the safest medical procedures that are performed. Abortions are safe if they are done by trained professionals and within the prescribed duration of the pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a Difficult Process

There can be various reasons why an individual wouldn’t want to go through with a pregnancy. These include financial constraints, lack of support from family, the individual is too young, or the fetus has certain abnormalities. It is a very difficult process that alters an individual’s life completely. Therefore, having the choice of an abortion for any reason is important.

Additionally, the fetus is not fully developed before it is aborted or removed. That is the reason pro-life arguments (advocating against the practice of abortion) sound hysterical at best.

DISADVANTAGES OF ABORTION

Sex-Selective Abortions

One of the biggest disadvantages of abortions is that it has led to sex-selective abortions. Procedures like amniocentesis and sonography help in determining the sex of the fetus before childbirth. This gives way to the termination of the fetus based on their sex. Most commonly there is termination of the female fetus. Countries like India, China, and South Korea are examples where there is rampant female foeticide.

Restrictive Laws

Several countries have restrictive laws on abortion. Countries like Chile and El Salvador have total bans on abortion. Several other countries regulate abortion where it can be obtained on a broad range of social, economic, or personal reasons. For instance, in Finland permission from two doctors is mandatory for each abortion. This creates additional hurdles for someone already going through distress. Women, especially young women often resort to unsafe abortions when they cannot access safe abortions.

High Cost

Abortions can come at a high price. The cost of abortions varies depending on where you live, your income, whether your health insurance will cover it, or the type of abortion you choose to undergo. In the United States, the general cost range may be anywhere between $0-$950. Additionally, the cost to treat complications of unsafe abortions is quite overwhelming. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the annual cost for treating even minor complications from unsafe abortion at the primary stage amounts to US$ 23 million. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Abortion

Health Implications

Abortions could lead to adverse psychological impact on the individual. Women who undergo abortions could have negative emotions about the whole experience. Societal pressure is one of the biggest reasons behind the mental health-related issues.

Severe Backlash

There is severe backlash from pro-life (anti-abortion) activists. They claim that abortion is equal to murder as unborn babies are considered as living human beings. And they believe they have the right to live. They strongly advocate against the legalization of elective abortions. 

To sum up, every individual should have the right to self-preservation and a choice in making decisions about their own body. But this is a debate that will go on for years to come.

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Pros and Cons

PROS

CONS

Agency Over One’s Body

Sex-Selective Abortions

Unsafe Abortions

Restrictive Laws

Sexual Violence

High Cost

Safe

Health Implications

Pregnancy is a Difficult Process

Severe Backlash