Arguments for and against abortion

There are many powerful arguments for and against abortion.

People with different beliefs may agree with many of these arguments.

Many religious believers are likely to have great sympathy with the arguments that a person should be able to decide what happens to their own body, but for them the idea that life is sacred may outweigh other arguments, however good.

Arguments for abortion

  • A woman has the right to choose whether or not she wants to have the baby. It is her body.
  • In the case of rape, it would be lacking in compassion to deny a woman the right to an abortion.
  • The woman might be too young, or have work or family commitments which make bringing up a child difficult or impossible for her.
  • The pregnant woman's health and welfare are more important than that of the embryo or fetus.
  • The pregnant woman's life is more important than that of the embryo or fetus.
  • The embryo or fetus does not have the same rights as the mother.
  • The quality of life of the unborn child or the woman's existing children could be adversely affected by the birth.
  • Stopping legal abortions would mean a return to 'back street' abortions, causing a great deal of suffering to the health and wellbeing of the woman. Abortion could therefore be the lesser of two evils.

Arguments against abortion

  • Roman Catholics believe that life begins at conception. Some Protestants believe that life begins after the first 14 days. The embryo is a living human being from this point, and so an abortion would be murder.
  • Every human being, including an embryo or fetus, has the right to live and to reach their potential.
  • There are alternatives to abortion, eg adoption.
  • The unborn child is denied choice.
  • Abortion destroys human life and makes life appear cheap and disposable. This affects the quality and value of life.
  • People born with disabilities can live full and happy lives.