Ethical Issues of Late Term Abortion

Ethical Issues of Late Term Abortion

Introduction

Abortion is defined as the deliberate termination of a pregnancy, according to the essay writing service’s definition. Many communities around the world outlaw abortion and those found guilty may stand trial. However, the American society has looked at the various circumstances that may surround pregnancy and eventually come to a conclusion that abortion may be permitted in some instances. This permission is only given in the legal frameworks of the federal and state governments. Therefore, the same at of abortion may be handled differently by different states depending on their laws. The federal government provides for cases on abortion up to certain levels and relegates the rest of the providences to the state level. However, individuals have different ethical outlooks on the issue of abortion. This paper will analyze laws affecting this issue both at the California state level and the federal level in both the ultraconservative and ultraliberal level. The ultraconservative view on abortion is based on the fact that life begins at conception and procuring an abortion is taking away a life just like in cases of murder (Grisanti, 2000). This view is mainly held by religions and individuals affiliated to these faiths. The ultraliberal view on abortion on the other hand is based on the view that women, just like other human beings, should have freedom and control over their bodies. Individuals who hold these view insist that women should be left to decide what to do with their bodies rather than impose decisions on them without letting them have a voice as the main stakeholders. Both these views seem to be on the extreme and this explains why the governments must come in to regulate the issue of abortion to ensure that the interests of the mother and the life of the fetus are both put into consideration before a person can be prosecuted on the issues of murder. The paper will therefore look at each law from these two perspectives with the aim of obtaining a balance between the legal and ethical perspectives on the issue.

Ethical Issues of Late Term Abortion

Laws are subject to interpretation, validation, invalidation and implementation by the courts and the executive arm of the government. Therefore, it is important that one examines and understands the providences and precedence of the courts regarding a law to comprehend how it has been implemented in the past. For instance, a Supreme Court care Roe v. Wade in 1973 led to the invalidation of all states laws on the issue of abortion. These laws had completely illegalized abortion in 20 states. Other 30 states had loosened their laws to allow abortion for pregnancies resulting from cases such as incest and rape (Guttmacher Institute, 2015). Roe v. Wade drew the attention of the federal government represented by the Supreme Court which went ahead to invalidate all the state laws regarding the issue. He court also took away the absolute power of the states on the issues regarding abortion. Instead, Roe put in place a trimester threshold period during which the states can enact rules in the interest of the life of the fetus. Therefore, this means that the federal government did not make any providence on the issue of abortion regarding the first four weeks of a pregnancy. Further, the states were prevented from directly illegalizing abortion during these early weeks but was left with the freedom to create as many restrictions as they can. The states were also given the authority to impose an outright ban during the later periods of pregnancy.

The ultraconservative view on abortion is that it should be made illegal and punishable unconditionally. Individuals that hold this view do not see the necessity of dividing pregnancy into periods since the life of an unborn child is considered equal to those of other human beings. However, Roe’s establishment was viewed as a milestone for these individuals in the thirty states where abortion had been allowed in special circumstances (Richey, 2007). . In this case, it was clear that the state laws on exemption from the ban on abortion did not define periods and individuals could procure it at any stage of pregnancy. The conservatives therefore welcomed this idea in these states since it had reduced the period in which individuals could procure abortion from 9 months to twelve weeks. However, the conservatives did not positively welcome the last in the 20 states where an outright ban was imposed on abortion (Guttmacher Institute, 2015). In these states, procuring an abortion was totally illegal at all stages of pregnancy. The law meant that individuals had been given some freedom to carry out an abortion. Though the state could impose restrictions, Roe’s establishment prevented it from totally banning abortion and this meant that despite the number or strictness of these restrictions, individuals would still find gaps within the legal system to justify their abortion acts.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 was another court case at the federal level that attracted the attention of the stakeholders and the court had to revise the establishment of Roe. After this review, the court still held the idea of the trimester using the point of viability of the fetus. In this case, the court trued to obtain a balance between this viability and autonomy of the person carrying the pregnancy. This case changed the way the legal system at the national level looks at pregnancy. Initially Roe had only considered the life of the fetus while coming up with the 1983 establishment. Casey brought in the idea of women’s autonomy thus lowering the legal standards that states held concerning this issue.

In the 1983 providence, the fetus right to life had been held as the key basis for the decision of the court. However, Casey reevaluated the whole concept of abortion and dame to establish that the women who carry pregnancies have a constitutional right to autonomy and freedom. The states had mainly acted in the interest of the fetus and most of their providences were geared towards ensuring that women carry their pregnancies up to term. Both the 1983 and 1992 providences were geared towards achieving uniformity between the states. The 1992 decision was however more significant since it considered what both states that had legalized abortion and those that had completely banned it before 1983 had considered before taking these stands.

Ultraliberal view on the issue of abortion is just as extreme as the ultraconservative one. While the ultraconservative view tend to ignore the fact that women have the right to autonomy and control over their bodies, the ultraliberal ignores the life of the fetus and the fact that most women who get pregnant played a role in the events that led to the pregnancy while understanding the likely result of their roles. The ultraliberal view was promoted by both court interventions though the second one seemed to have a greater positive impact on this view and individuals who support it. The initial 1983 provision was positive to the pro-choice individuals in the 20 states where abortion had been completely banned (Guttmacher Institute, 2015). This provision meant that women in these states could now procure abortion during the first trimester provided that they could prove that the pregnancy was a result of either rape or incest. However, the 1983 provision did not fully meet the expectations of the ultraliberal individuals. In addition, the providence only seemed to recognize the value of the life of the fetus that is the emphasis of the pro-life individuals while completely ignoring the autonomy of the women involved. Ultraliberal individuals felt that the woman is the main stakeholder of pregnancy since they suffer the direct consequences that come as a result of the condition. They feel that, for this reason, the laws should recognize women as the only people who have the ability to decide whether to terminate the pregnancy or not. Though the 1992oprovidence did not give women full autonomy over the pregnancies, it seemed to recognize this autonomy as one of the factors that can justify abortion.

Most of the legal providences at the national level seem to touch on the mother as the main decision maker and custodian of pregnancy. However, it is important to note that medical practitioners play a main role in preservation of pregnancy and abortions. 18 U.S. Code § 1531 provides for cases where physicians are involved in partial-birth abortions. This provision subjects physicians who aid in partial-birth abortions to prosecution and punishment through the legal system but clearly exempts cases where the life of the mother is endangered or the pregnancies acquired through rape and incest. From this provision, it is clear that prochoice individuals have not had a full way in the legal perspective. There are no provisions that give w woman freedom to carry out an abortion for pregnancies that were willingly acquired. Ethically, we can look at most pregnant women as moral agents. A moral agent is someone who can take part in an activity and understand the likely underlying consequences of this activity either from experience or through being informed. From this definition, normal people will indulge in sexual activities while understanding that there are chances of getting pregnant. Therefore, it is unlikely that this pregnancy will have a negative impact on their feelings more than those of victims of rape. In addition, these women can take precautions to ensure that their sexual activities do not result in pregnancies (Grisanti, 2000; Major et al. 2009).

While the individuals who hold the prochoice view on pregnancy may have a valid point on the autonomy of women, it is important to consider the likely results if abortion was to be made unconditionally legal at all the periods of pregnancy. Evolution off technology and changes in the societal economic and social structure has led to erosion of models in the current society. Young people achieve autonomy in decision making and relationships at earlier ages compared to the preceding generations. These people start indulging in sexual activities at very early ages. Unconditional legalizing of abortion will take away the fear of prosecution and this is likely to erode morals in the society. Ethics are meant to promote good morals and enhance coexistence by encouraging certain principles of making decisions and judgement (Grisanti, 2000). However, there is no absoluteness in ethical arguments since individuals will come up with different views and ways of justifying these views. It is assumed that ultraconservatives take their stand on abortion based on their value for life. It is therefore expected that these individuals support the terms in 18 U.S. Code § 1531. The law assumes that the life of the mother is more important than that of the fetus since the former is an actual being that has undergone many processes to become who they are. However, some ultraconservatives insist that all lives are equal and that of the mother should be taken as being equal to that of the fetus. Further, one can argue against this stand that on the basis that an abortion is a surer way of ensuring that either of the fetus or the mother survives since it is clear that in some cases leaving the situation as it is will lead to the death of the mother. In the initial stages of pregnancy, death of the mother leads to death of the fetus since the life of the latter depends on that of the former.

Since the 18 U.S. Code § 1531 and other legal providences insisted on the need of medical procedures in cases where abortion was required, it become necessary that laws be enacted to regulate the conduct of the practitioners when carrying out the procedure. Part (c) of the 18 U.S. Code § 1531 requires that only licensed practitioners carry out the procedures on parents. Further this part requires that the medical staff should have proof of consent from all the affiliated parties in form of written consent before they can carry out the procedure. This involvement of other parties in the decision is meant to protect individuals from unsafe medical procedures and also being forced into procuring abortions (Major et al. 2009). However, it seems to undermine the view of the prochoice that women should have absolute autonomy over their bodies. For instance, individuals under the age of 18 are supposed to gain consent from their parents before they can undergo the operation. It is assumed that these individuals are minors and their parents can be held liable for any negative occurrence that affects their lives. This means that parents of minors must be informed in cases where these minors are found to be pregnant and also be actively involved in deliberations leading to procuring an abortion. However, this code does not provide for cases where the minor acquired the pregnancy neither through rape nor incest or instances where the life of the minor is endangered by the pregnancy (Romney, 2014). This means that the laws against abortion at the federal level deny underage women the right to have autonomy over their bodies. This quality of ignoring the right of the minors may not have much effect on the views of the ultraconservatives but the ultra-liberalists view it as highly opposing the freedom and autonomy that they advocate for. However, it does not generally seem to have a significant impact in the ethical perspective since most important decisions and actions in the lives of minors must involve their parents.

Though federal legislation on abortion has had a significant effect on trends and levels of abortion in the country, it mainly remains regulatory on the activities of the states. Further, court cases at the federal level judicial institutions that attracted the attention of the central government which in turn comes in to enhance uniformity and promote the interests of the group that they think is more threatened. Kliff (2013) observes that California laws on abortion are some of the most convenient among those enacted by the states in the country. For instance, the state passed a law in 2013 allowing trained nurses, nurse midwives and physician assistants to carry out abortion procedures during the first trimester Weitz et al, 2013). This shifted the role of supervision and accreditation of abortion services from the state medical board to four accreditation agencies. This legislature promoted the ideology of the modernists since most individuals can now access abortions within 50 miles from their residential homes (Romney, 2014). Further, it eliminates the fear in those requiring or carrying out the procedure. The state only joined a list of three others that had accredited nurses to carry out abortions. In addition, medical offices and spas can are now being used for the procedure and this increases its accessibility for the California citizens.

The law on abortion passed in 2013 goes against the view of the ultraconservatives. These individuals insist on the importance of life right from conception. While these individuals strive that abortion be unconditionally banned, the law ensures that all individuals who seek an abortion do so through a simple and safe medical procedure (Richey, 2007). Accreditation of more facilities and practitioners to carry out the practice means that the regulatory authority will have a difficult time reviewing all abortions carried out in the state to ensure that they were legal and that they followed the right procedure. Pro-life individuals consider this as promoting an abortion-first mentality on pregnancies including for individuals in families and marriages. For instance, an individual might lose a job after getting pregnant. Since money is required to meet the costs of bringing up a baby, these individuals might be motivated by the existing legislations to procure an abortion in an effort to cope with the financial crisis rather than finding another job or source of income. The legislation also creates an impression that pregnant women are so much in need of abortion that even underqualified medical staff should be left to carry out the procedure. In addition, California passed this law only with the intention of improving the women’s access to abortion while maintaining the other laws that had existed on the subject. It is therefore likely that more women will seek abortions, including those who are not allowed to procure it as per the ban and checks by the federal and state governments.

Pro-choice activists have argued that the freedom of women who are not prepared to carry pregnancies up to term is infringed by not allowing them to procure an abortion at any stage of their pregnancy (Kliff, 2013). These women may miss out on important opportunities in life such as academic and career-related ones. They therefore advise that abortion services should be made available throughout the country and women should be allowed to carry out these procedure at whatever stage of their pregnancies. These individuals view the federal laws that ban abortions past the first trimester as exposing the women who seek the services to exploitation by medical practitioners and unsafe medical procedures that puts their lives at risk. The federal ban criminalizes medically appropriate procedures and even puts the medical doctors at losing their licenses for carrying out functions that they have been trained for on individuals who need them. The laws in four states that support access to abortion by women are seen as promoting their right to autonomy and freedom to make decisions regarding their lives.

Conclusion

States were initially in full charge of legislations concerning the issue of abortion. In a983, Roe v. Wade first drew the attention of the federal government on this issue. This government, through the court came in to ensure that there is uniformity on the issue of abortion by dividing the pregnancy period into three trimesters and allowing the states to form their own legislations to protect the life of the fetus during the first trimester. As time moved by and courts continued to handle more cases, they came to notice that the autonomy of the mother was an important issue in these laws and made laws to enhance it. Therefore, the states seemed to be moving towards the prolife by coming up with restrictions on abortions while the federal government came in to bring a balance with autonomy and interests of the mother. The California state seems to take a different course since its legislations seem to protect the autonomy and interests of the mother. Therefore, it is clear that the state’s laws on abortion are drifting towards ultra-modernism. Ultraconservatives view this as endangering the life of the fetus and promoting immorality in the society while the ultra-modernists view it as enhancing the freedom of women and their ability to achieve their dreams in life.

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