Abortion: Women's Health As Their Integral Right
Women have been fighting the struggle for reproductive rights for centuries.
Historically, these rights are an especially controversial subject due to the
moral, ethical, and religious considerations.
Is the issue inextricably linked to the numerous questions that surround women's
reproductive freedom? The ability to reproduce seems to be what sets women apart
from men. But do women have control over their own reproduction? Do women have
access to safe birth control methods? Do women have the right to safe abortion?
A big 'NO' in answer to many such questions led to the emergence of the women's
health movement in different parts of the world in the early 1970's. it started
as small 'consciousness raising' groups, which began by spreading awareness
among women about the functioning of their bodies and gradually evolved into
multi- faceted campaigns that have significantly influenced health policies in
The discussion about abortion is one of the most intensive and debatable topics
in the modern world. The supporters of the rights to abortion adhering to a pro
choicer approach claim that women should have the right to independently make
decisions concerning her body and the artificial termination of pregnancy.
In their turn, the opponents provide arguments against abortion, stating that it
is a murder. This paper will elaborate on the thesis that a women should have
the right to abortion as the best ethical decision to ensure her physical and
psychological health as well as to enhance or support her current social and
economic situation, thus maintaining an adequate standard of living.
What Is Abortion
An abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or foetus from the uterus,
resulting in, or caused by, its death.
This can occur spontaneously as a miscarriage, or be artificially induced
through chemical, surgical or other means. Commonly, "abortion" refers to an
induced procedure at any point in the pregnancy; medically, it is defined as a
miscarriage or induced termination before twenty weeks gestation, which is
Abortion As A Human Right
Throughout history, induced abortion have been a source of consideration debate
and controversy. An individual's personal stance on the complex ethical, moral,
and legal issues has a strong relationship with the given individual's value
system. A person's position on abortion may be described as a combination of
their personal beliefs on the morality of induced abortion and the ethical limit
of the government's legitimate authority.
It is a women's individual rights, right to her life, to her liability, and to
the pursuit of her happiness, that sanctions her right to have an abortion. A
women's reproductive and sexual health and shape her reproductive choices.
Reproductive rights are internationally recognized as critical both to advancing
women's human right and to promoting development.
The Historic Decision Of Roe v/s Wdes
Roe v. wade became one of the most politically significant Supreme Court
decisions in history, reshaping national politics, dividing the nation into
"pro- choice" and "pro- life" camps, and inspiring grassroots activism. This is
a landmark united state supreme court decision establishing the most laws
against abortion violate a constitutional right to privacy, thus overturning all
state laws outlawing or restricting abortion that were inconsistence with the
Jone roe, the plaintiff wanted to terminate her pregnancy because she
contended that it was a result of rape. Relying on the current state of medical
knowledge, the decision established a system of trimesters that attempted to
balance the state's legitimate interests with the individual's constitutional
rights. The court ruled that the state cannot restrict a women's right to an
abortion during the first trimester, the state can regulate the abortion
procedure during the second trimester "in ways that are reasonably related to
maternal health," and in the third trimester, demarcating the viability of the
fetus, a state can choose to restrict or even to proscribe abortion as it sees
In response to Roe v. Wade, several states enacted laws limiting abortion,
including laws requiring parental consent for minors to obtain abortions,
parental notification laws, spousal consent laws, spousal notification laws,
laws requiring abortions to be performed in hospitals but not clinics, laws
barring state funding for abortions, laws banning most very late term abortions.
Right To Abortion
Human right are those rights, which should be available to every individual
without any discrimination of any kind. Recognition of the inherent dignity and
of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the
foundation of freedom. The most important right of a human is the right to life.
It is the supreme human right from which no derogation is permitted. It is
The Article 6(1) of the International Convenant on civil and
Political Rights prohibit the arbitrary deprivation of life. But there are some
controversial issues related to this supreme right. One such issue is the
question of Right to abortion. Among other rights of women, it is believed that
every mother has a right to abortion, it is universal right. But the rights of
the mother are to be balanced with the rights of the unborn.
Earlier the right to abortion was not permitted and it was strongly opposed by
the society. The termination of pregnancy was termed to be murder of the foetus.
But due to change in time and technology, nowadays this right has been legally
sanctioned by most of the nations after the famous decision of Roe v. Wade 1973
by the US Supreme Court. But the oppositions are still present and people do
believe that it should be legally prohibited.
Women's Health as Their Integral Right:
Do women have the right to abortion? What is the point at which the fetus can be
counted as a child who has the right to life? No one should be entitled to force
a woman to maintain a pregnancy against her will. If a woman does not have the
right to freely make decisions concerning her body, including control of
reproductive functions, she does not have any real freedom at all.
The advocates of the right to abortion usually proceed from the fact that the
government should not interfere in the privacy of women, deciding the fate of
their pregnancy and the fetus for them. They consider that women should have a
choice � whether to have an abortion or not.
In addition, it is noted that no woman should risk her health at the request of
the law since with the complete prohibition of abortion, plenty of pregnant
women would be exposed to fetal and childbirth dangers as well as to criminal
The opponents of the ban on abortion also suggest that in case the government is
allowed to impose restrictions to ensure the right to life of each fetus, the
status of which remains equivocal, then the matter can go as far as imposing
compulsory regulation of the way of life for pregnant women.
It would be potentially possible, for example, to prohibit them from visiting
nightclubs or doing physical work on the grounds that all this could create a
health risk for the fetus as the future human being.
The pro-life supporters often claim that a fetus is already a human being. It is
an already existing life, and abortion is synonymous with killing a human who is
already born. They promote the pro-life stance by pointing to religion-based
arguments that life in the womb is life.
Even if pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, killing it is not an option
because it is close to killing a human that caused emotional pain. The pro-life
activists often appeal to the public that the desire to make an abortion is the
representation of losing human values and emotional deterioration.
Even if it is so, what about cases when the fetus becomes the source of danger
to the life of the mother, and the termination of pregnancy can save the life of
the latter, who cannot bear and give birth for medical reasons? Abortion
conducted in a specialized medical institution is also an alternative to
If a woman decides to terminate her pregnancy, in most cases, she is likely to
do it regardless of legal, social, or moral prohibitions. The data presented by
the recent studies convincingly show that in the vast majority of cases,
criminal abortions result in infertility and cause irreparable harm to a woman's
Rather often, illegal operations end in a lethal outcome. Even though it may
sound strange and unlikely, in this case, abortion is one of the ways to
increase the birth rate as only a healthy woman after an abortion is able to
have healthy children in the future.
Speaking of the psychological health of women in terms of the right to abortion,
one should emphasize that no one should force a woman to bear an unwanted child
or the one conceived as a result of violence. This is likely to aggravate her
mental health, which can lead to the most deplorable consequences for both a
woman and a child from depression to suicide. The recent study shows that among
women who obtained an abortion.
Ninety-five percent reported one week later that having the procedure was the
right decision for them. Even among those who had had a primarily negative
emotional response, 84 percent felt that abortion was the correct choice; among
those who expressed any regret about the abortion, 89 percent felt that abortion
was the right decision.
It is essential to consider another side of the arguments, like those supporting
the pro-life stance claim that abortion is the source of stress and significant
psychological issues. Indeed, according to recent research, there were numerous
instances of post-abortion nervous disorders (44% of post-abortion patients) and
sleep disturbances (36% of patients).
Every one in three women shared regrets regarding her decision (31%), and in 11%
of instances, doctors were forced to prescribe psychotropic medication to avoid
the further aggravation of the psychological condition of their patients
("Abortion risks"). More than that, women who had abortions tend to visit
psychiatrists more often compared to those who have not.
This position cannot be ignored because, likewise, any difficult situation,
abortion causes stress. However, studies by psychiatrists have shown that the
level of stress is higher before abortion than after it.
According to the official data provided by World Health Organization (WHO) based
on information obtained from obstetricians and gynaecologists, the vast majority
of women undergo an abortion with no consequences for their psyche (World Health
A number of studies indicate that the percentage of mental illnesses among women
who have an abortion is higher than in those who gave birth or who do not become
However, these results do not imply the existence of a causal relationship
between abortion and mental disorders and may reflect the consequences of
pre-conditions for the disease. Thus, the question of the existence of such a
connection has been researched insufficiently. In any case, the psychological
benefits of abortion are evidenced by credible sources.
Social and Economic Situation:
The persons who have adopted a pro-choice attitude towards abortion outline some
extent of hypocrisy in the philosophy of their opponents. For example, if every
child born is wanted by someone, as argued by abortion opponents, why then
dozens of thousands of children are not adopted by those who insist on
Plenty of children with congenital anomalies or chronic diseases are left in
special institutions. As noted by Lopez, it seems that life-choice supporters
are concerned with the protection of unborn beings more than by the need to
improve the socio-economic situation of women as well as prevent it from further
It should be noted that many women who decided to have an abortion are forced by
difficult social and economic factors, such as the status of a single or
uneducated mother, along with the lack of appropriate living conditions, work,
The pro-life supporters often appeal to the fact that born children become
adults capable of benefitting the state because they get employed and pay taxes.
Within a broader context, they may work on innovations, thus incurring the
economic growth of the country.
However, they do not recognize the fact that to become employed or contribute to
the increased economic growth; it is necessary to invest in a child's
development and proper education because natural talents are commonly not enough
to become a genius. Keeping in mind the costliness of bringing up and educating
a child, the right to abortion may be the only correct decision in some cases as
the birth of a child is likely to become a great challenge.
For example, if an unmarried and unemployed 24-year-old woman who is barely able
to feed three children for the state allowance will become pregnant again and
wish to have an abortion; it is evident that her decision is based on the desire
to ensure adequate life for her children.
At worst, all the mentioned children may be taken to the orphanage or another
family because of the mother's inability to provide them with food, good living
conditions, and health care. The fate of mothers who gave birth to the unwanted
child or were rejected abortion is hardly more successful than the life of those
who had an abortion.
Usually, they do not complete their studies and do not even get a secondary
education. Such women cannot count on adequate work and create normal conditions
for the child, depending on the help of social services. More to the point, they
have health problems, and their marriage tends to end with divorce rapidly.
At the same time, the interruption of unwanted pregnancy is one way to reduce
the government's additional costs for social benefits and the maintenance of
orphanages. According to medical statistics in the US, more than 1.5 million
pregnancies are interrupted annually, and this is merely the official data
(World Health Organization (WHO).
Such a number of children whose parents cannot or do not want to take care of is
an unbearable burden for the economy of the state. It is an indisputable fact.
Case Laws In This Regard:
D. Rajeswari vs. State Of Tamil Nadu And Others 1996
The case, is of an unmarried girl of 18 years who is praying for issue of a
direction to terminate the pregnancy of the child in her womb, on the ground
that bearing the unwanted pregnancy of the child of three months made her to
become mentally ill and the continuance of pregnancy has caused great anguish in
her mind, which would result in a grave injury to her mental health, since the
pregnancy was caused by rape. The Court granted the permission to terminate the
Dr.Nisha Malviya and Anr. vs. State of M.P 2000
The accused had committed rape on minor girl aged about 12 years and made her
pregnant. The allegations are that two other co-accused took this girl, and they
terminated her pregnancy. So the charge on them is firstly causing miscarriage
without consent of girl. The Court held all the three accused guilty of
termination of pregnancy which was not consented by the mother or the girl.
Murari Mohan Koley Vs. The State 2004
In this case a woman wanted to have abortion on the ground that she has a 6
months old daughter. She approached the petitioner for an abortion. And the
petitioner agreed to it for a consideration. But somehow the condition of the
woman worsened in the hospital and she was shifted to another hospital. But it
resulted in her death. The abortion was not done. The petitioner who was a
registered medical practitioner had to establish that his action was done in
good faith (includes omission as well ) so that he can get exemption from any
criminal liability under section 3 of the MTP Act, 1971.
Shri Bhagwan Katariya And Others vs. State of M.P 2001
The woman was married to Navneet. Applicants are younger brothers of said
Navneet while Bhagwan Katariya was the father of said Navneet. After the
complainant conceived pregnancy, the husband and the other family members took
an exception to it, took her for abortion and without her consent got the
The Court opined that if we refer Section 3 of the Medical Termination of
Pregnancy Act, 1971, a doctor is entitled to terminate the pregnancy under
particular circumstances and if the pregnancy was terminated in accordance with
the provisions of law, it must be presumed that without the consent of the woman
it could not be done. Present is a case where a permanent scar has been carved
on the heart and soul of the woman by depriving her of her child. And the Doctor
will be liable.
Thus, the case laws show that a woman has an absolute right to abortion and no
one can take away this right from her. The Judiciary has been playing a vital
role in securing these rights to women. Right to abortion is a fundamental right
Right To Abortion Of The Mother v/s Right To Life Of The Unborn
Religious, moral, and cultural sensibilities continue to influence abortion laws
throughout the world. The right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to
security of person are major issues of human rights that are sometimes used as
justification for the existence or the absence of laws controlling abortion.
Many countries in which abortion is legal require that certain criteria be met
in order for an abortion to be obtained, often, but not always, using a
trimester-based system to regulate the window in which abortion is still legal
In this debate, arguments presented in favour of or against abortion focus on
either the moral permissibility of an induced abortion, or justification of laws
permitting or restricting abortion. Arguments on morality and legality tend to
collide and combine, complicating the issue at hand. Abortion debates,
especially pertaining to abortion laws, are often spearheaded by advocacy groups
belonging to one of two camps.
Most often those in favor of legal prohibition of abortion describe themselves
as pro-life while those against legal restrictions on abortion describe
themselves as pro-choice. Both are used to indicate the central principles in
arguments for and against abortion: "Is the foetus a human being with a
fundamental right to life" for pro-life advocates, and, for those who are
pro-choice, "Does a woman have the right to choose whether or not to have an
To conclude, the two essential factors in favor of abortion, namely, the
mother's health and her social and economic conditions were discussed. This
paper may be significant for policymakers, abortion opposition, women,
especially those who decide on their pregnancy, and other interested parties.
It was revealed that it is better to let a woman terminate the unwanted
pregnancy than doom her to remain uneducated, low-income, and stressed as well
as to create the potential for her child to be abandoned by a mother or taken by
The right of a woman to fully control her body is one of the fundamental human
rights in any civilized society. If a state acquires the right to force a woman
to give birth to a child, then why not to force her to undergo female
sterilization as the next step?
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