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Overview of The Issue of Abortion, Pro Life and Pro Choice Arguments

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Background information (in the United Kingdom)
  3. Pro-Life Argument
  4. Pro-Choice


There are many different reasons why people are both for and against abortions being legal for every single woman whether it be due to personal belief, religion, medical reasoning or due to a woman getting pregnant through rape. This debate can become very complex as if abortion is legalised everywhere for every woman, some people would then argue what the cut off point for the abortions should be (for example: 24 weeks or 18 weeks) as in some places, abortion is legal right up until a persons due date which then has ethical complications for many people as although the child has not yet been born, it is still a fully functioning baby just inside the womb rather than out in the world. But then in some countries in the world, abortions are either illegal all together or only legal for woman who have been raped or if it is a medical necessity for the woman’s health- which again, causes issues for example; if a young girl gets pregnant and is not ready to be a mother and she would rather have a child later in life when she is financially stable and capable of looking after a child, she should have the option to get an abortion but if she lives in an area where this is not possible, she may have to travel to get an abortion or just have the child as there are no other options for her. Multiple different sources will be used throughout this journal in support of both the pro-life side and the pro-choice side of the debate and a couple of interviews will be conducted in order to have a first hand point of view on abortions and the reasons why they either do or do not agree with them and why- also why they believe people on the other side of the debate have the opinions they do.

Background information (in the United Kingdom)

Laws surrounding abortion in the United Kingdom have been around since the 13th century and the law stated that as long as the abortion was performed before the “quickening” and this law remained in place for centuries until The Ellenborough Act was put in place in 1803. This act made abortions after 16-20 weeks (depending on when the first movement of the foetus also known as the quickening) illegal and women who got abortions after this period were given the death penalty. In the year 1861 The Offences Against the Person Act was put in place after the revoking of The Ellenborough Act was altered in 1837. This new act sentenced people to life imprisonment if they performed and abortion or tried to self-abort. Over 60 years later, the Infant Life Preservation Act made it illegal to terminate a foetus after 28 weeks unless the woman’s life was at risk (in which case it was legal to have an abortion after 28 weeks). Over the 19th century and early 20th century there were a lot of laws that restricted access to legal abortions and as a result, many women died or permanently damaged themselves from giving themselves abortions or going to back-street abortionists- between the years 1923 to 1933, 15% of maternal deaths were as a result of illegal abortions. Finally, in the year 1967, after many different laws and acts regarding abortion, The Abortion Act was passed, legalising abortion- with certain conditions. There have been multiple challenges to this Act, and it has been slightly altered in the years since but now the United Kingdom has legalised abortions up until a woman is 24 weeks pregnant- unless there are circumstances in which an abortion after this point is absolutely necessary. This is very different in other countries in the world, where abortions all together are illegal, or they are illegal other than certain circumstances or on the complete other end of the scale, where abortions are legal up until the baby’s due date.

Pro-Life Argument

Many pro-lifers believe that life begins at conception and therefore abortion is murder which is the key argument of the pro-life side of the debate. In the United States of America, unborn babies are considered to be human beings according to their Government and therefore killing the foetus is unethical and classed as murder (many states in America are preparing for the Roe versus Wade law to be overturned, six states have already prohibited abortions with what are called “trigger laws”, these laws make it that abortion will be automatically made illegal in the event that states are allowed to control the legality of abortions. Another point pro-lifers make is that during the abortion procedure, the foetus can feel pain and according to Bernard N. Nathanson, MD, “We see [in an ultrasound image] the child’s mouth open in a silent scream… This is the silent scream of a child threatened imminently with extinction” (the ultrasound image was of a 12-week-old foetus). For religious groups such as Catholics, abortion is the killing of a human being and therefore abortion is defying God (as one of the ten commandments is Thou shalt not kill) and God recognises a child is a human being right from conception.

As well as abortion being classed as murder, people on the pro-life side of the debate note that abortions cause a lot of psychological damage to women who get them- most likely depression. It is not only women who can be affected mentally by abortions, their partners can too have feelings of regret, sadness and depression. Following that, a woman who gets an abortion is more likely to commit suicide than women who carry their babies to term. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, the mean yearly suicide rate amongst women who had an abortion was 34.7 per 100,000, compared with a mean rate of 11.3 per 100,000 in the general population of women. Abortions can also cause medical problems later in a woman’s life, such as a woman experiencing a miscarriage during her next pregnancy/ pregnancies and they can increase the risk of a woman developing breast cancer at some point in her life and the more abortions a woman has, the more chance there is of them developing breast cancer.

People who support the pro-life side of the debate point out that the more people have abortions, the less babies there are in the adoption system- so people who are unable to conceive have less chance of being able to adopt a baby. Another weakness of abortions is that a lot of people choose to abort their child if they have a genetic abnormality- such as downs syndrome- which is a form of discrimination as they are still as human as everybody else in the world and they should not be treated any different just because they have genetic abnormalities. Plus, a lot of people with disabilities are capable of living normal/ mostly ‘normal’ lives and are capable of doing the same things as any ‘normal’ person. Following this, women should not be able to use abortion as a form of contraception as it is highly immoral to kill an unborn child just because it is convenient for the woman and it is more likely that a woman who has previously had an abortion will get another abortion as they know the process and some individuals may see abortions as a last resort contraceptive/ they do not have to worry about using protection as they know they can just get an abortion if they do fall pregnant.

It is believed that women should take responsibility for their actions and accept the consequences that come with having sexual intercourse- even if contraception is used, none of it is 100% effective so you always run the risk of falling pregnant even if protection is used. The unborn baby should not be punished for the actions of the adults who created it and if women are not prepared to look after the child themselves, it is believed that they should put the child up for adoption rather than aborting them.

To many pro-lifers, abortions being legal promotes human lives being disposable. Many would argue that if it is okay and legal to kill an unborn baby, then it okay to kill any other living human as at the end of the day, we are all the same no matter what age so what is the difference between killing a foetus and killing any other human. As well as this, abortion prevents any future societal contributors. This essentially means that any unborn child that is aborted could have been an amazing singer or a scientist or any other type of person who has an impact on society. Examples of this include; Steve Jobs, Cher, Justin Bieber and even Pope John Paul II, all these individuals mothers were advised to get an abortion due to some reason or another, if they had gone through with the abortions, we would not have had any Apple products or we would have never heard the hit songs that have been released by those song artists.


There are many points in the pro-choice argument that counteract those made in the pro-life side of the debate. An example of this is very simply, women should be able to do whatever they want with their body and it is their choice. Plus, there are many reasons as to why a woman may get an abortion such as rape, it is not financially possible/ they are not ready, medical complications with either the mother or the child. There is also a difference between killing a foetus to killing an actual human and that difference is that one does not know what life is and they have not learned any basic human skills where as if you were to kill a human, they have had experience in life and have already made an impact on the world so it is more of a loss. On the point of there being less babies in the adoption system, this could be seen as a positive as there are many children of all different ages already in the adoption system so those children should have a chance in life before other babies are unfairly brought into the world- there is also no guarantee that they will even be adopted. This is not to say however there should not be a cut off date for how far along you can be before you get an abortion- other than in certain circumstances where it is medically necessary, the pro-choice argument essentially just wants every woman to have the ability to have an abortion if they so wish to.

Many people on the pro-choice side of the debate state that life begins at birth, not at conception as foetus’ are not independent and cannot learn or do anything on their own, so only once they are born are eating/ drinking/ learning independently, their life has begun, plus foetus’ are not included in any countries census’ so therefore they are not technically living yet. Following that, people’s ages start on the day that they are born not the day of their conception which is another point that counter-argues the idea that life begins at conception.

Although it is believed that foetus’ can feel pain during the abortion procedure, in most cases, the unborn baby cannot feel any pain as the cut off point of when a woman can have an abortion until is before the point in which a foetus can feel pain- due to the stages of their development.

Women having access to legal (and therefore safe) abortions reduces the risk of injuries and potential deaths that are caused by illegal abortions. If abortions are banned, then women are more likely to risk their lives getting rid of their baby in an illegitimate way- which we have seen throughout history when many women would try to give themselves an abortion by using a wire coat hanger- sometimes dipped in battery acid- or intentionally making themselves miscarry by throwing themselves down stairs. Plus, modern abortions do not cause health issues later in life (such as previously stated in the pro-life argument, breast cancer). Women who have access to abortions are also less likely to suffer from mental health issues compared to women who have been denied an abortion.

Although pro-lifers argue that a child should not be terminated if they have any form of abnormality as they should have a fair chance in this world as any other baby would. In some cases, the foetus may have a very severe disorder that would mean they will die before birth or not long after being born and it would be horrible for a woman to have to carry their baby to term knowing they are almost guaranteed to die which may then cause great psychological harm to the woman- even greater than if she were to have an abortion as there would have been less of an attachment. Some women are also not prepared or not able to look after a child with genetic abnormalities or with a disability as it is a great deal harder to care for a child with a disability and a lot of support would be needed to help care for the child from family members or friends and for some individuals, this is not readily available.

Statistically speaking, women are more likely to become victims of domestic abuse and become unemployed if they are denied an abortion. According to the Turnaway Study, 76% of women denied an abortion were on the dole compared to 44% of women who were allowed to get an abortion who were not on the dole, 58% of women who were not allowed an abortion were unemployed while 48% who were given abortions had full time jobs and 56% of women who had an abortion were above the poverty line compared to 67% of women who were denied an abortion who were below the poverty line.

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Overview of the Issue of Abortion, Pro Life and Pro Choice Arguments. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from
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