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The Abortion Debate
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Peter Kennedy

One of today’s most controversial topics, the abortion debate pits the rights of a mother against the rights of a fetus. The most common, clear-cut stances on the issue are “prochoice” and “pro-life,” which hinge on legal and moral considerations. Another common viewpoint is a more blended pragmatist view, which states that abortion should be prohibited except for specific cases. "Pro-choice" advocates stress a woman's right to choose whether and when to terminate her pregnancy. In their view, a woman should have absolute control over her own body and, by extension, over the survival of the fetus within her. The "pro-life" camp argues that life begins at conception and any termination of pregnancy after the formation of the embryo is equivalent to murder. One may deem abortion immoral, but does that necessarily mean it should be illegal? As with many moral debates, there is an underlying and perhaps more significant legal debate raging, especially in the United States. Roe v. Wade was a landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that is still relevant today. The Court voted 7-2 to overturn all state laws banning abortion. The Justices concluded that such laws violate a woman's constitutional right to privacy. Since then, the moral debate has taken on political significance. Alternatively, if abortion is morally permissible, does that mean it should be legal in all cases? In response to this question, there exist other viewpoints in addition to the clear cut “pro choice” and “pro life” positions. Indeed, proponents of each argument vary by degree.

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For example, some pro-choice advocates believe abortion is no longer morally permissible after the second trimester. Similarly, some pro-lifers allow abortion in extreme cases, such as rape or incest. Roughly two percent of pregnancies occur under these conditions. The abortion debate lends itself to a larger, overriding question: when must the government intervene in citizens' personal lives, and when must it avoid doing so? About the author: OpineTree is a blog website that encourages debate on today’s most controversial political topics, including abortion, affirmative action, cloning, the death penalty, euthanasia, gay marriage, gun control, health care, social security, stem cells, as well as other debate topics. Visit http://www.opinetree.com/abortion.htmlto join the abortion debate.
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