Should there be a set date at which a woman must decide whether to terminate her pregnancy?In July, 2012, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a restriction on abortion that bars women past...

Should there be a set date at which a woman must decide whether to terminate her pregnancy?

In July, 2012, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a restriction on abortion that bars women past twenty weeks of gestation from obtaining an abortion. Should all states adopt such a law, assuming Roe v. Wade remains constitutional? Barring the life of the mother, should there be a set date at which a woman must decide whether to terminate her pregnancy?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The controversy revolves, at least in part, around The National Right to Life Committee assertion that it is proven that fetuses feel pain beginning at 20 weeks of gestation. According to a Fox News article, nine states have acted on this assertion though the time restriction was struck down for the District of Columbia.

There seems to be sound evidence for the assertion as fetal electrical brain activity can be registered and measured on an EEG at 20 weeks. Doctors with sound credentials back this finding (one doesn't know if there is a bias in place influencing their opinions):

• “At 20 weeks, the fetal brain has the full complement of brain cells present in adulthood, ready and waiting to receive pain signals from the body, and their electrical activity can be recorded by standard electroencephalography (EEG).”
— Dr. Paul Ranalli, neurologist, University of Toronto

• An unborn baby at 20 weeks gestation “is fully capable of experiencing pain. … Without question, [abortion] is a dreadfully painful experience for any infant subjected to such a surgical procedure.”
— Robert J. White, M.D., PhD., professor of neurosurgery, Case Western University

If this scientific finding is true and born out in multiple studies (to eliminate bias in conclusions), then it seems the right thing to do to limit abortions to the gestation period prior to 20 weeks. (One wonders what the motive for the abortion might be if the decision takes more than 20 weeks, roughly 5 months.) At this point, assuming no bias in the data and conclusions, I would vote in favor of a 20 week limit on abortion access.

http://www.mccl.org/unborn-babies-can-feel-pain.html

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/31/house-to-vote-on-dc-abortion-restrictions/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion#By_gestational_age_and_method

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that there should be, though I would really not want to be the one who had to decide what that date was.  

I think that a fetus that has gotten much past the first trimester is getting on towards viability.  I think that it is easy to see a fetus that is 8 weeks old or so as something other than a human life.  However, once the fetus becomes viable, it is hard to argue that it is anything other than human.  Therefore, I do believe that there should be some limit set at which the fetus is deemed viable and a woman may no longer choose to get an abortion.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Personally, I don’t know that I could bring myself to get an abortion.  However, I do think there should be a time when we acknowledge that a fetus is a baby.  I don’t think women should be able to abort fetuses in the third trimester.  Basically, when the fetus is viable outside the mother it should not be legal to abort it.  That date will change though, with technology.

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