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Abortion Should Be Legal


Fiona has decided to open up a decidedly divisive can of worms over at mental meanderings, arguing that abortion should be legal. She lays down the challenge as "I have yet to hear a rational, non-emotional and non-theological argument against legalising abortion in Ireland.".

Well she wont hear one here, I am of the opinion that abortion is a private decision, and as such falls outside the scope of government intervention. The arguments that are regularly put forward to make abortion illegal are religious/moral ones. I think it is clear over the past few weeks, that the west has become quite disentagled with morality and now increasingly operates a society in which religious moral decisions are private. Though those that hold them see them as universal, Christianity has been forced to accept that a plurality of views exist and their existence is enough to afford them accomodation.

The question of legalising abortion in a secular sense can often be boiled down to this issue:

1) The state has a duty of care to all citizens, can it thus extend to right to abort to mothers or must it protect the unborn as a citizen?

Obvioulsy this is a secular construction of the problematic of when a foetus becomes a human.
As Fiona argues "up to a certain time however that ‘living being’ is not autonomous and can not survive without the woman." That is certainly true, but it opens up again the issue of classification of human against animal or simply a bundle of cells. The point at which most states settle on in abortion legislation is 20-24 weeks. This suggests that there exists a certain amount of science to suggest that this is the maximum available time.

The relevance here is that the principle of abortion has to be measured against the universal requirement of the state to at least attempt to extend protection to citizens. However, this is a social conception of the argument and this means that citizens are required to be considered as autonomous in thier own right.

This places limits on the point up until which there can be an abortion and extends the choice to the mother and her only by virtue of her carrying the embryo. Failure to recognise this choice interjects moral stipulations above and beyond the legally recognisable arguments for sate intervention. Thus while late abortion can be argued for both sides since the foetus may in fact live through a birth, there is a point up to which abortion is the remit of the mother.

The liberty of a mother to have an abortion is a fundamental one, and in a state where the influence of religion on legislation should be resisted, in the interests of all in the society, this should be recognised. The state has an obligation first and foremost to its citizens and to the point where it cannot legislate on reasonable grounds to prohibit abortion entirely, it should not.

Living in a pluralist society suggests that the liberty should be maximised yet the debate not outlawed. The option should be there, the decision to have one is open to debate. Those who oppose are free to do so and convince others of their correctness, yet the state must not prejudice choice in the private sphere and as I have argued up until a certain point the pregnancy exists in the mothers/parents private sphere.

I believe abortion should be legalised, not because it is right or wrong, because there are those in society who desire it, often need it, and they are being falied by the states reluctance to acknowledge the pluralism in private morality that it is designed to protect.

Update: Check out Dossing Times to keep on top of who is saying what.

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  1. Blogger Simon | 12:35 a.m. |  

    citizens are required to be considered as autonomous

    Know any autonomus 2 year olds :)

    I put a poll up btw

  2. Blogger Cian | 1:22 a.m. |  

    : >
    I know what you mean, but this criteria is often a tad broader in the sense of 'independently existing' capable of supporting their own physical being e.g. Not living on ones own per se rather the capability to support ones own physical body.
    Saw the poll, no points for guessing my vote!!

  3. Blogger Cian | 1:48 a.m. |  

    Incidentally, that is just an interpretation of some classical conceptions of citizenship. Is the unborn from inception a citizen or at the point where the body can sustain its own life?

    If the latter then at some point a liberal state must offer forth the pluralistic option of facilitating abortion to those who desire it.


  4. Anonymous tomcosgrave | 2:16 a.m. |  

    Great post Red Rover.
    Here's my own take...

  5. Anonymous Anonymous | 3:39 p.m. |  

    not wishing to be too patronizeing here, but since when have religion and morales been synonomous, morales and right and wrong have been around a lot longer than organised religion or our modern concept of God and killing a human being is morraly wrong. No government should condone murder be it abortion, euthenasia or mercy killings.

  6. Anonymous Morticia | 2:53 a.m. |  

    Of course abortion is a woman's prerogative right. Abortion should be easily accessible, free and safe.
    Forcing women to give birth is barbaric and oppressive.
    The foetus has no developed human brain until week 26 so setting the limit at 20-24 weeks is a good safety barrier.
    It's ridiculous to say that because 'it's human life', meaning it has human DNA, women should be forced to give birth.
    Nail clippings contain more human DNA than an embryo.
    The anti-abortion brigade should loudly support free contraception for all women, promoting the use of it.
    We need to prevent unwanted pregnancies, NOT prohibit abortions.

  7. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:06 a.m. |  

    In response to Morticia's comments.
    Are you for real? You said "forcing women to give birth is barbaric and oppressive."???? It seems you're just here to have sex and not take any responsibility if you fall pregnant. Once the foetus (Which by the way is a human life) has been conceived it doesn't matter at what week you decide to abort, it is 'murder' I wish all you pro abortion people would wake up!!!! Its not about being religous or having morals as none of you seem to have. Its about protecting that poor innocent child. I thank god my mother didn't think the way you do or I wouldn't be here.

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