Where exactly the lines fall between ethics, morality, freedom, and law
There is a common case of political question in which there is no correct or incorrect opinion, but rather, valid or invalid. Abortion tends to fall under these terms however the validity of the opinion is decided by the side saying it and discredited by the opposing, creating an issue in which very rarely are organized discussions had due to the immense emotion on both sides of the argument. So instead of looking at this in the manner of who is right and wrong, we can take a much more practical approach: The law. It doesn’t matter if we agree or not because that isn’t the point of the analysis, the point is to conclude on what exactly the law says about abortion and under what realms if any is it legal.
There are two sides of the law: the literal and the implied. The average citizen understands the literal, for instance, our rights to free speech, assembly, etc. However the implied level goes much deeper and is generally only used by lawyers to defend or prosecute, as with the laws being strictly literal, it would be almost immediately conclusive on whether or not they are guilty and what their punishment should be. Abortion, in the literal sense, is completely legal assuming it is done before the legal period ends. For only 41 of the 50 states, this falls between no later than 6 weeks and no later than 26 weeks, with the other 9 having no restrictions at all. 34 of these fall between the no later than 22 weeks and no later than 26 weeks mark. However, though there are few restrictions besides these legal periods, much of the law says otherwise about what exactly is happening and whether or not the abortion could be had.
Hypocrisy. It’s the biggest cause for political and debate-based unrest, and it sure doesn’t stop with abortion. For example, while abortion may be legal, killing a baby in general isn’t. Abortion runs on a big platform that murder cannot be considered as the baby is “not alive” yet. While this may be their view, killing a pregnant woman counts as a double homicide in a court of law, alluding to the fact that the baby is considered legally alive and hence denying the argument of the pro-choice side. So it comes down to a question that cannot be answered for a variety of reasons; Is the baby alive and therefore abortion is murder being allowed due to social reasons, or is the law inaccurate to what exactly we have decided on fetal development today?
Dr. J M Goldenring tells that the earliest forms of life and personhood should be considered when brain waves become active in which the body starts to become directed the same way ours is. So let's think hypothetically, you have a family member who is brain dead; is it legal to pull the plug? This is highly debated and should already raise some questions as to the fact that maybe the baby should be considered alive even before this point. However for the sake of the argument, let’s assume we conclude that it is legal to pull the plug. Now the doctor tells you that he has an extremely high chance of recovery to become fully functional in only a few months if you just give it time. While it is still legally okay to pull the plug in this scenario, where do ethics come in? Well the same goes for abortion. This baby– really just a human without brainwaves, like when in a coma, who has an extremely high chance to become fully functional in the future– is very in line with our hypothetical person that most people (even on the pro-choice side) would say should be allowed to live. While that may be true, North Carolina is the only state who has any abortion ban before brainwaves start (theirs falling at 6 weeks and presence of brain waves starting as early as 8).
Alright, so you don’t think brainwaves are a good measure of when a person becomes alive. How about the one thing that kills us if it stops, our heartbeat (coming in at around 16 weeks). At this point blood is pumping through the vessels and organs just as a regular person’s would, and is just as essential to survival. Well this isn’t apparently telling of personhood either as only one more state comes to join the band by this point (Arkansas).
While it may seem like it can’t get much farther than this, it can. By 22 weeks Organs are completed, digits are present, sex is determined, heartbeat can be heard by the doctor, and even movement can be felt (one of the most important ability’s of a living being). Only 2 weeks later extremely distinct features let alone contextual ones are forming such as eyebrows and fingernails. However even with all these telling human characteristics, 46 of the 50 states still allow an abortion to be carried out legally. An important question then to ask is this: Do you believe the baby isn’t alive so you can have an abortion, or do you not care if it is alive and believe a life is worth your convenience? The answer is very important to many people as to whether they think the abortion is justified or not.
This may not be the easiest issue, no civil rights one is. The question is where exactly does the line of religious/ethical morality meet legal standards, and where does the line of freedom meet them. Neither side will have it their way, that’s just the fact, but where exactly is the middle ground where the baby is not scientifically alive and it won’t scientifically (or legally) be considered murder. While the majority of this article has been aimed objectively (or as much as possible considering the facts really target only one side), as a person more on the side of pro-life there are a couple questions I think are important to ask yourself as an individual. This is legal, currently anyway, so in no way could I decide whether or not you’re allowed at this point, however it is important to think about these before making the choice for yourself (regardless of your choice). Is the fetus alive and when (even researching more than this article should definitely be necessary)? What does some of the hypocritical standards within the law tell about whether or not this is mainly a social issue? And finally, while we have sympathy for any unintended pregnancy, shouldn’t there at least be just a reasonable extent, enough to make an educated, organized decision, of sympathy for the child as well?