In the American civil society, abortion is a divisive matter. Various interest groups vehemently oppose abortion, whereas there are others that support partial birth abortion and claim it is a woman’s constitutional right. Religious groups such as Roman Catholics are some of the major groups that oppose abortion, whereas Planned Parenthood is one of the main groups that support partial birth abortion. Thus, there appears a question of the constitutionality of partial birth abortions. In the US, it is a criminal offense to perform partial birth abortion.
A woman’s decision on whether to keep the baby by not having an abortion or seeking medical termination of pregnancy is usually a very personal matter. However, this issue is a source of so much political debate. Abortion issues have been extremely divisive in the society for a very long time, due to the different opinions of various groups with regard to the rights of the individual and the unborn child. The belief that unborn was a child, and therefore, had a right to life began in the middle of the twentieth century (Hadley, 1996). Women perform partial birth abortion from 20 to 24 weeks into the pregnancy. However, some women may perform partial birth abortion even at the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy. Partial abortion involved delivering the baby through the birth canal before killing it (Grad, 2005). Killing the baby completes the process of abortion. What is even worse, this is despite the fact that the baby is born alive. Therefore, partial birth abortion is practically murder. In the US, the Partial-Birth-Abortion Ban Act prohibits this form of abortion with the exception of extremely rare cases when it is necessary in order to save the mother’s life (Teitelbaum & Wilensky, 2008). Partial-Birth-Abortion Ban Act defines stiff penalties, both civil and criminal, for people who violate the act. The penalties relate to the woman and all accomplices of the crime.
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Various questions have raised debates on the legality of partial-birth abortion with regard to violation of human rights. Various parties argue that the case of Roe v. Wade protects partial birth abortions. During this case, the Supreme Court allowed women to perform abortions regardless of their individual reasons to perform abortions. Since the decision of Roe v. Wade, various states have enacted laws that are similar to the Partial-Birth-Abortion Ban Act to prohibit partial birth abortion. Ohio was one first state that prohibited partial birth abortion. However, various parties challenged this law as they considered it as violation of the constitutional right to have an abortion, which is protected by the decision of Roe v. Wade. However, in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court never gave people the right to perform abortions. In the decision, the Supreme Court definition of the word ‘person’ as used in the Fourth Amendment did not mean the unborn fetus. However, partial birth abortion does not comprise an unborn fetus; it involves killing a child, legally a ‘person’, after the child has been partially born (Mason, 2002). Therefore, since the child is a ‘person’, it has essential right to live that is defined by the constitution.
Furthermore, the stage of development of the fetus during partial birth abortion raises certain questions. When partial birth abortion occurs after 20 weeks, the fetus is capable of experiencing pain (Paul, Lichtenberg & Borgotta, 2009). Therefore, partial birth abortion is in essence murder of an individual who does not have the capacity to beg for mercy. Therefore, it would be ironical that animal rights activities prohibit the use of procedures that inflict pain on an animal, despite the fact that the animal cannot complain of the pain, yet there are people who support partial birth abortion. The similarity between the two scenarios is evident to anyone. Therefore, partial birth abortion is simply infanticide, killing of innocent infants and not a human right.
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