Abortion is often defined as the deliberate termination of a pregnancy prior to its attainment of full term and with no intention whatsoever of keeping the fetus.
The first thing to be saidabout this is that it is something new. Opponents of abortion have been soconcerned to make out the independence of the fetus, in order to establish thatit has a right to life, just as its mother does, that they have tended tooverlook the possible support they might gain from making out that the fetus isdependent on the mother, in order to establish that she has a special kind ofresponsibility for it, a responsibility that gives it rights against her whichare not possessed by any independent person--such as an ailing violinist who isa stranger to her.
The difficulty I point tohere is not peculiar to the right of life. It reappears in connection with allthe other natural rights, and it is something which an adequate account ofrights must deal with. For present purposes it is enough just to draw attentionto it. But I would stress that I am not arguing that people do not have a rightto life--quite to the contrary, it seems to me that the primary control we mustplace on the acceptability of an account of rights is that it should turn outin that account to be a truth that all persons have a right to life. I amarguing only that having a right to life does not guarantee having either aright to be given the use of or a right to be allowed continued use of anotherperson s body--even if one needs it for life itself. So the right to life willnot serve the opponents of abortion in the very simple and clear way in whichthey seem to have thought it would.
I suppose that in some viewsof human life the mother's body is only on loan to her, the loan not being onewhich gives her any prior claim to it. One who held this view might well thinkit impartiality to say "I cannot choose." But I shall simply ignorethis possibility. My own view is that if a human being has any just, priorclaim to anything at all, he has a just, prior claim to his own body. Andperhaps this needn't be argued for here anyway, since, as I mentioned, thearguments against abortion we are looking at do grant that the woman has aright to decide what happens in and to her body. But although they do grant it,I have tried to show that they do not take seriously what is done in granting it.I suggest the same thing will reappear even more clearly when we turn away fromcases in which the mother's life is at stake, and attend, as I propose we nowdo, to the vastly more common cases in which a woman wants an abortion for someless weighty reason than preserving her own life.
But it might be argued thatthere are other ways one can have acquired a right to the use of anotherperson's body than by having been invited to use it by that person. Suppose awoman voluntarily indulges in intercourse, knowing of the chance it will issuein pregnancy, and then she does become pregnant; is she not in part responsiblefor the presence, in fact the very existence, of the unborn person inside? Nodoubt she did not invite it in. But doesn't her partial responsibility for itsbeing there itself give it a right to the use of her body? If so, then heraborting it would be more like the boys taking away the chocolates, and lesslike your unplugging yourself from the violinist--doing so would be deprivingit of what it does have a right to, and thus would be doing it an injustice.
Let us call the view that abortion is impermissible even to save the mother's life "the extreme view." I want to suggest first that it does not issue from the argument I mentioned earlier without the addition of some fairly powerful premises. Suppose a woman has become pregnant, and now learns that she has a cardiac condition such that she will die if she carries the baby to term. What may be done for her? The fetus, being to life, but as the mother is a person too, so has she a right to life. Presumably they have an equal right to life. How is it supposed to come out that an abortion may not be performed? If mother and child have an equal right to life, shouldn't we perhaps flip a coin? Or should we add to the mother's right to life her right to decide what happens in and to her body, which everybody seems to be ready to grant--the sum of her rights now outweighing the fetus's right to life?
For U.S. states, abortion ratios and percentages are based on abortion figures from different sources with different completeness; the mixed figures are not reliable time series.
The extreme view could of course be weakened to say that while abortion is permissible to save the mother's life, it may not be performed by a third party, but only by the mother herself. But this cannot be right either. For what we have to keep in mind is that the mother and the unborn child are not like two tenants in a small house which has, by an unfortunate mistake, been rented to both: the mother owns the house. The fact that she does adds to the offensiveness of deducing that the mother can do nothing from the supposition that third parties can do nothing. But it does more than this: it casts a bright light on the supposition that third parties can do nothing. Certainly it lets us see that a third party who says "I cannot choose between you" is fooling himself if he thinks this is impartiality. If Jones has found and fastened on a certain coat, which he needs to keep him from freezing, but which Smith also needs to keep him from freezing, then it is not impartiality that says "I cannot choose between you" when Smith owns the coat. Women have said again and again "This body is my body!" and they have reason to feel angry, reason to feel that it has been like shouting into the wind. Smith, after all, is hardly likely to bless us if we say to him, "Of course it's your coat, anybody would grant that it is. But no one may choose between you and Jones who is to have it."
In this case, of course, youwere kidnapped, you didn't volunteer for the operation that plugged theviolinist into your kidneys. Can those who oppose abortion on the ground Imentioned make an exception for a pregnancy due to rape? Certainly. They cansay that persons have a right to life only if they didn't come into existencebecause of rape; or they can say that all persons have a right to life, butthat some have less of a right to life than others, in particular, that thosewho came into existence because of rape have less. But these statements have arather unpleasant sound. Surely the question of whether you have a right tolife at all, or how much of it you have, shouldn't turn on the question ofwhether or not you are a product of a rape. And in fact the people who opposeabortion on the ground I mentioned do not make this distinction, and hence donot make an exception in case of rape.
Mifepristone, also known as “RU-486” or the “abortion pill” is a prescription drug that is used to end a pregnancy that is less than seven weeks along.
Unlike the common knowledge that abortion is performed in an unsafe setting and has the potential long-term complications, abortion is actually performed by professions and has few complications if it is performed within twelve weeks of pregnancy....
By having an abortion she would not have to deal with all of the issues like these, though she would have to deal with the emotional aspect of deciding to terminate the fetus which would be a decision that should be left to that person, not a law....