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Letter to the Editor: Abortion
April 7, 2004

Many strong feelings arise when abortion is discussed. Pro-choice and pro-life advocates each battle fiercely to have their beliefs enforced by law and society.

When reflecting on matter of abortion, however, I think that a very important point to remember is that it does not constitute a violation of human rights. This point seems to escape many people.

This point originates not because the fetus or embryo is not human, it is certainly human; it carries DNA. The main reason, however, comes with the existence and significance of a very important phase in life, birth.

In Abortion in the Ancient World Konstantinos Kapparis explains that, "whatever views individuals or social and legal systems may take on abortion and prenatal existence, one thing is certain: birth is a very significant point in the life of a person. In our times a human being acquires a name, is registered and becomes a member of society with prescribed rights and duties when he/she is born and not before or long after that."

The embryo or fetus that lives inside of the mother is not yet a born person therefore it can bear no claim to human rights. As long as the fetus has not been born then human rights will not be given to it. At this time it is simply a potential person. Before it is born it is completely dependent on the mother and is subject to her entirely.

According to Stephen Currie in Opposing Viewpoints Digest, in its first few weeks which is when nine out of ten abortions are performed, the fetus is still technically an embryo and holds no likeness to a new born baby at all. The organism being carried in the mother's womb is considerably less person-like than is the average mature mammal, indeed the average fish, Currie writes.

The topic of abortion has encountered overwhelming controversy since its legalization by Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade in 1973. The courts determined that a woman's choice to terminate her pregnancy came under the freedom of personal choice in family matters as protected by the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The desire by anti-abortionists to make abortion illegal is an unending dispute. As I mentioned earlier, it must be understood that abortion should not and cannot be considered a human rights violation. To make abortion illegal would, however, be a a violation of human rights. A woman required to bear a child she does not want is essentially being denied the rights granted and protected by the 14th amendment.

Many anti-abortionists will go as far as to attempt to argue this right by altering the definition of a person, claiming that each new fertilized egg in a woman's body is a new person because its DNA is unique from anyone else's. How can such a claim be proven? Taking the example of twins, they each share the exact same DNA. But does this make them the same person?

Allegations of this magnitude are those which characterize many pro- life stances. I think that one must analyze more deeply the propositions that such allegations may incur. In simple terms, there can be only one decision maker in a body. The woman was there first and only she can act consciously.

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