Ethics of Religion within America’s Abortion Debate

Abortion has long been a hotly debated topic within society. Most prominently, religious groups and pro-choice groups have fought over the ethicality of abortion. Yet, the discussion of abortion concerns more than just the health and life of the fetus, but of the health and autonomy of the women carrying the baby. Furthermore, abortion is an issue many feminists are concerned with as gaining the right to make the choice of having an abortion or not is viewed as one step towards closing the gap of inequality between men and women. On the other side of the debate, many religions view abortion as violating moral and ethical values as life should be valued above all else. This controversy begs the question of: What is religions place in the abortion debate?

Relationship to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

  • 3.Good Health and Wellbeing: Abortion involves the health of the mother as well as concern for the life of the fetus
  • 5. Gender Equality: A common theme within abortion debates is the right of a women to control her own body, rather than having the decision of pregnancy made for her.
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities: This issue is important within the feminist movements and resolving it is a step forward in closing the gap of inequality between men and women

Why choose this?

I chose this topic because I have always been interested in social justice movements and abortion is deeply ingrained in the women’s rights movement. For me, this is an issue that directly affects women and their bodies but often fails to actually involve women in creating legal policies that relate to it. Moreover, religious reasons are often considered more so than women. Being religious myself, I have always disagreed with what my Church says about the issue of abortion. Merging both religious issues and women’s rights issues created a project that I was deeply interested in and mattered greatly to the world at the moment. The legislation within the United States often overlaps decisions on the legality of abortion with religious views. A current instance of this in Georgia will be discussed further below. The ethicality of this occurrence will be analyzed and a conclusion will be drawn. However, the debate over the ethicality of a medical procedure is not done with just one viewpoint. The abortion debate requires full-scale participation and discussion.

The Current Legalities of Abortion within the United States

An Example of a Religious Say in the Abortion Debate: The Heartbeat Bill

Laws are change. And when laws on already controversial issues change, the people react. A new bill has recently been passed by the Georgia Senate. The bill outlaws abortions past detection of a fetal heartbeat, which can occur at 6 weeks and before the pregnancy is known. It is appropriately titled the Heartbeat bill and if passed would become one of the strictest laws on abortion in the U.S. As expected, outraged followed the passing of the bill among people who believed in pro-choice. Women dressed up as characters from the popular book and adapted TV show “The Handmaid’s Tale”, other lawmakers declared it was religion clouding the ability of the Georgia Senate to make a just decision, and even physicians argued that this could worsen the medical care of women. Regardless of the ethicality, situations like these are replicated across the U.S fueling the debate and making the application of bioethics to this issue even more important.

A woman records a group of pro-abortion rights demonstrators the 35th legislative day at the Georgia State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta, Friday, March 22, 2019. The Georgia Senate is set for a lengthy debate on the anti-abortion “heartbeat bill” Friday. Sen. Renee Unterman is carrying the bill for Rep. Ed Setzler. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

There are many scriptures that make it clear to me that God knew us and had a plan for us when we were still in our mother’s womb. The word abortion is not going to be found in the Bible.

Republican Sen. Greg Kirk, a Baptist Pastor

An Analysis on the Religious Pro-Life Perspective

It should be noted that within every religion each member varies in their beliefs and not every religious person is Pro-Life. However, this ethical inquiry addresses not every member of the religion, but the institution itself and their beliefs and input in the abortion debate. Furthermore, it would be implausible to analyze the place of every religion within the debate and as such will focus on Catholicism and Islam.

A summary video by the Yaqueen Institute for Islamic Research on Islam’s viewpoint on abortion

Similar to Islamic belief, the Catholic Church condemns deliberate abortion is wrong. A fetus is believed to be alive once the sperm fertilizes the egg and abortion would be considered murder.

An Analysis on a Pro-Choice Perspective

The pro-choice perspective believes in allowing abortion. More in depth, someone who is pro-choice believes that women should have the right to decide whether or not to have children themselves. Being pro-choice does not mean that they themselves may choose abortion, but rather that other people have the choice to. Moreover, people who are pro-choice can have religious views or any moral beliefs.

Putting it together

Please click on this google document to answer a bioethical question surrounding religion and abortion.


Share this project
  1. April 26, 2019 by Shaya

    Hi Ana! This project is amazing. I did my project about a religious topic, too, so I was really interested in seeing how you applied religious themes to bioethics. I agree with the opinion you presented at the end in the video, and I appreciate how thoroughly you considered the different perspectives of the issue. I especially like the colorful infographics you included towards the beginning. Nice work!

    • April 26, 2019 by Ana

      Hi Shaya, thanks so much! What’s your project so I can check it out ?

  2. April 29, 2019 by Aminah.Asghar

    I enjoyed your presentation! It was really interesting to see how the bioethical principles applied to different religions and I found your infographics really engaging!

    • May 04, 2019 by Krish M Sheth

      Me as well! Great design and clean organization!

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