Since 1967, when it became legalized, abortion has been of the most controversial ethical issues in England, with many ethical groups coming up with their ideas on what should be done to this matter. This issue has caused many confrontations between the two separate parties of opinion. The fight between pro-life and pro-choice supporters. An abortion is the deliberate termination of an embryo’s life or the expulsion of a fetus from the womb by non-natural causes. In this essay I’ll be looking at mainly secular opinions along with Christian teachings.
One of the most undecided parts of this complex is the question of when does life begin – being cautious with the phrasing of this question is crucial. If the question is phrased as “When does life begin?”, the answer would indefinitely be simple; before conception the two healthy gametes (female ovum and male sperm cell) required for conception are already alive. The term fertilization is the fusion of the two gametes. On the other hand, if the question at matter is “When does human life begin?”, that opens up a whole new controversy. The oxford dictionary defines “human” as:
Relating to or characteristic of humankind: the human body the complex nature of the human mind
So if what defines a human is our unique ability or way of using our intellectuality, then we will not be terminating human life before the 7 weeks after conception, when the embryo starts to develop any sort of cognitive function (legally women are allowed to have abortions 24 weeks after abortion, with some exceptions in extreme cases). Although, at 7 weeks the fetus can already retain some features of the human body i.e. limbs and eyes. Fetuses have been known to survive birth at 21 weeks for example in the case of Frieda “The Miracle Baby”, whereas, the legal limit set for an abortion is 24 weeks. So, is that not terminating the life of a person who is capable of living a completely normal life? However this is only my opinion – one of many others to be heard.
The Catholic Church has always condemned abortion as a grave evil. In his encyclical evangelical vitae ("The Gospel of Life"), John Paul II maintained the Catholic belief that abortion is not okay. So in 1995, The Pope, John Paul II declared that the Church’s teaching on abortion "is unchanged and unchangeable. Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors . . . I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder…” - Evangelium Vitae 62. This has been enshrined into a law in Ireland (a Catholic country), with a slight difference where the “Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act” will allow terminations to be carried out if there is a threat to the mother’s life as off 2013. If this had been passed down earlier it would have saved the life of Savita Halappanavar, who on the 28th of October died along with her baby after being refused an abortion in Ireland, medics say she would have most likely survived if her pregnancy had been terminated, there was still nothing that could have been done about the baby’s life, if it had not been for the leaders of Ireland at that time who implemented their Catholic beliefs into the laws and the way the country was run. But by saving the mother’s life the double effect was that the baby had to be aborted without a natural death, even though the baby wouldn’t have lived for more than a day. From their perspective an abortion is killing, and in term breaking the most important of God’s commandments “Thou shalt not kill”. Catholics believe in the sancty of life – that life is a gift given from God, each one should be taken, and cared for, so an abortion would be against preserving this spiritual connection between us and God.
As part of the earlier issue mentioned about the beginning of life the Catholic belief system states that human life begins at the moment of conception when the…