Why abortion is a reproductive right for women essay

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Whyabortion is a reproductive right for women

Thedebate on the need to legalize abortion is based on differentarguments, such as moral, ethical, and human rights. Althoughabortion is a restricted medical practice in many jurisdictions, somewomen still try to access the service because they have underlyingchallenges that they feel can be eased by terminating theirpregnancies. It is estimated that 18.5 million cases of unsafeabortion out of the total 21.6 million cases occur in the developingcountries that use a conservative approach when addressing the issueof abortion (WHO 1). This paper will advance an argument thatdifferent jurisdictions should legalize abortion and consider it as afundamental reproductive right that should be enjoyed by women.

Theright for each gender to be treated equally

Theright for all people to be given an equal consideration, irrespectiveof their gender or other social characteristics is enshrined in thehuman rights laws. A debate on the topic of abortion affects womendisproportionately, since they are part of the only gender that cancarry the pregnancy. Supporting the idea that women should have anabsolute right to abort takes account of the fact that pregnancysubject women to challenge (such as stress, maternity-relatedinjuries, overweight, and a high chance of dying during labor) thatare not experienced by men (Boland 112). A decision to prohibitabortion through laws and social stigma deny women the right to makereproductive choices as their counterpart male do without beingprohibited by any law.

Lawsthat are formulated with the objective of controlling abortion targetwomen. This implies that such legislations contradict the Conventionfor the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.This convention provide the framework that countries are required touse in developing laws that allow women to enjoy reproductive rightsin the same way as men do (CRR 3). The easiest way to implement thisconvention is to leave abortion to the discretion of expectant women,instead of formulating laws that limit their capacity to enjoy thisreproductive right.

Rightof self-determination

Makingdecisions on private matters is a fundamental right that is providedby nature and protected by the law. This is founded on the principleof self-determination. Actions (including the enactment of laws) thatregulate abortion tend to undermine the principle ofself-determination, since they limit the capacity of women todetermine the fate of their pregnancies. Abortion should be given anequal consideration to the rest of the reproductive practices, suchas spacing of children and a decision on the number of children thatone would like to have (CRR 3). For an instant, women space theirchildren depending on their perceived economic stability, but somejurisdictions deny them the right to base their decision to abort onthe economic implication of their pregnancies. This leads to uncalledfor interference in women’s rights to determine the status as wellas the direction of their reproductive health.

Boththe Human Rights Commission and the European Court of Human Rights(ECOHR) equate the right to abort with the right to privacy. TheECOHR held that pregnancy form part of the women’s physical as wellas psychological integrity, which implies that the government andother stakeholders should protect, instead of prohibiting the rightto abort (Denbow 221). Therefore, the role of the government on theissue of abortion is to give women the autonomy and a chance to makeinformed choices before aborting.

Theright for all people to access quality medical care

Itis undisputed that abortion should be classified as one of themedical services that are exclusively offered to women. Based on thisnotion, it would be an injustice to deny women the right to terminatetheir pregnancies. This would be considered as an attempt to denywomen the right to access a medical service. The Committee forEconomic, Cultural, and Social Rights stated that people have theright to take control over issues that affect their bodies as well astheir health (Smith 10). These rights include the freedom toinfluence individual’s sexuality as well as reproductive healthwithout being interrupted by external forces, such as laws and socialstigma. Abortion has been recognized as a medical service in severalinternational platforms (such as the European Social Charter &ampthe International Covenant on Economic, Cultural, and Social Rights),but individual countries still punish women who terminate theirpregnancies (Puppinck 36).

Denyingwomen the right to access safe abortion, as a medical service,pressures them to look for help from unqualified health careprofessionals and traditional healers. This increases the risk ofsuffering from medical complications or death. For an instant, it isestimated that about 21 million women terminate their pregnancieseach year with the help of unqualified personnel, which leads to thedeath of approximately 34 % of them (WHO 1). Medical complicationsand death of women who abort each year are more in countries thathave established laws that deny women the right to access safeabortion. This implies that restricting abortion does to address theunderlying factors that force women to terminate their pregnancies.For example, some women decide to advance their career and educationbefore having children. The opponents of the idea of legalization ofabortion hold that there are laws that have already been formulatedto empower health care professionals to terminate pregnancies when awoman’s health is at risk. However, it is clear that there areother needs, besides medical issues that force women to abort.


Themajority of individuals and organizations that oppose thelegalization of abortion base their argument on the fact thatterminating pregnancy results in the killing of innocent beings. Thisnotion is mainly held by religious groups. These groups advance theidea that human life starts at the point of conception (Kaplan 1).The stakeholders who apply the concept held by religious groups whenparticipating in the debate on the legalization of abortion arguethat there is no difference between termination of a pregnancy andcommitting murder. However, this argument is still controversialsince some participants in the debate hold that the fetus does nothave the right to be murdered given that it lacks the capacity tosurvive on its own (Kaplan 1). To this end, abortion cannot beequated to murder since the fetus depends entirely on the mother forits survival.


Abortionis a fundamental reproductive right for women, which implies thatwomen should be allowed to practice it without any legal or culturalrestrictions. The issue of abortion affects women, which means thatthe only way to advance the concept of equality is to give women thefreedom to practice abortion depending on their economic and medicalneeds. In addition, women should be allowed to practice the conceptof self-determination by making the decision to let the pregnancy togrow to term or terminate it. Moreover, abortion is a medical servicethat should be offered to women without any restrictions. Fetusdepends on their mothers for survival, which implies that they lackthe capacity to be murdered. Therefore, governments should legalizeabortion and allow women have access to safe abortion, since it istheir fundamental reproductive right.


Boland,R. and Katzive, L. Developments in laws on induced abortion.InternationalFamily Planning Perspective34.3 (2008): 110-120. Print.

Centerfor Reproductive Rights. Safeand legal abortion is a woman’s human right.New York, NY: CRR, 2014. Print.

Denbow,J. Abortion: When choice and autonomy conflict. BerkeleyJournal of Gender, Law, and Justice20.1 (2013): 216-228. Print.

Kaplan,M. Fertility clinics destroy embryos all the time. Why aren’tconservatives after them? TheWashington Post.14 August. 2015. Web. 10 May 2016.

Puppinck,G. Abortion in European Law: Human rights, social rights, and the newcultural trend. AveMarian International Law Journal1 (2015): 30-43. Print.

Smith,S. Reproductive health and the question of abortion in Botswana.AfricanJournal of Reproductive Health17.4 (2013): 1-34. Print.

WHO.Sexual and reproductive health: Preventing unsafe abortion. WHO.2016. Web. 10 May 2016.