ABORTION ESSAY

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INTRO

Abortion is the deliberate act of terminating a pregnancy in the first 24 weeks. The types of abortion include the abortion pill, the suction method, surgical dilation or a late abortion which vary in time scales as to when they can and cannot be used. The subject of abortion is very emotional and many people have conflicting views about it. It can be suggested that in modern day society abortion is becoming more accepted due to its appearance in popular culture, for example, the soap opera EastEnders in 2006, when the character Stacey went through with an abortion.

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INTRO notes

  • Abortion - deliberate act of terminating a pregnancy in the first 24 weeks.
  • Types of abortion - abortion pill, the suction method, surgical dilation or a late abortion
  • Vary in time scales as to when they can and cannot be used
  • Very emotional
  • Conflicting views about it
  • In modern day society abortion is becoming more accepted
  • Due to its appearance in popular culture
  • E.g. soap opera EastEnders in 2006, when the character Stacey went through with an abortion.
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The Law

The law currently allows abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy based on the Abortion Act of 1967. Abortion must take place before viability, when a baby is able to live on its own outside the mother’s womb (24 weeks). Many Christians believe that viability should be reduced to 20 weeks as babies have been able to survive at this stage. Abortions may be carried out if a great risk is posed to the physical or mental health of the woman. An abortion must be agreed by two doctors and carried out by a doctor in a government approved hospital. Currently, in the republic of Ireland it is illegal to have an abortion therefore some people travel to England and Wales to receive them. Many Irish people hold Catholic Christian views and are therefore wholly against abortions. In Psalm 139:13 he says "For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb." This verse explains that God is indeed creating humans in the womb, NOT just when we're born. Many pro-abortion campaigns claim that abortion is necessary to stop the act of dangerous, backstreet abortions.

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The Law notes

  • The law allows abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy based on the Abortion Act of 1967.
  • Abortion must take place before viability, when a baby is able to live on its own outside the mother’s womb (24 weeks).
  • Many Christians believe that viability should be reduced to 20 weeks as babies have been able to survive at this stage.
  • Abortions may be carried out if a great risk is posed to the physical or mental health of the woman.
  • Agreed by 2 doctors & carried out by a doctor in a govn. approved hospital.
  • In the republic of Ireland it is illegal to have an abortion - people travel to England and Wales to receive them.
  • Many Irish people hold Catholic Christian views & are against abortions.
  • Psalm 139:13  "For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb."
  • God is creating humans in the womb, NOT just when we're born.
  • Many pro-abortion campaigns claim that abortion is necessary to stop the act of dangerous, backstreet abortions.
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Backstreet Abortions

Backstreet abortions are those which are not carried out in hospitals or clinics and can result in the death of many women. The legislation of abortion is supported by a lot of people as it means the majority of abortions are now carried out safely and less are carried on in the backstreet way which can save women’s lives.

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Backstreet Abortion notes

  • Backstreet abortions - not carried out in hospitals or clinics & can result in death
  • Legislation of abortion is supported by a lot of people
  • as the majority of abortions are now carried out safely & less are carried on in the backstreet way which can save women’s lives
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When does human life begin?

An issue raised by the topic of abortion is the confusion of how the term ‘life’ is interpreted. People believe in different stages of development and personhood which makes it difficult to conclude when a human life does begin. Some people believe human life begins at viability, however this can cause problems as advances of medical knowledge occur causing the age when a baby is able to live on its own outside the mother’s womb to be younger. Others believe that human life begins at the stage of quickening. Quickening occurs when the foetus first moves inside the womb (usually 16 or 17 weeks of pregnancy). Another belief is that human life begins when the heartbeat of the foetus can be detected. To determine the beginning of human life as quickening or the detection of a  heartbeat causes issues as these stages do not happen at particular times in every case, the stage of a pregnancy that quickening or heartbeat detection occur can vary.

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When does human life begin? notes

  • Confusion of how the term ‘life’ is interpreted.

  • People believe in different stages of development & personhood

  • Makes it difficult to conclude when a human life does begin.

  • Some people believe human life begins at viability (ability to live)

  • medical knowledge causes the age when a baby is able to live on its own outside the mother’s womb to be younger.

  • Others believe that human life begins at the stage of quickening.

  • Quickening occurs when the foetus 1st moves inside the womb (usually 16 or 17 weeks of pregnancy).

  • Another belief is that human life begins when the heartbeat of the foetus can be detected.

  • To determine the beginning of human life as quickening or by heartbeat causes issues as these stages do not happen at particular times, they can vary

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Peter Singer

Ethicist Peter Singer argues that, “the life of a new-born is less value than the life of a pig” because human babies are not born self-aware, therefore they cannot be classed as persons. Singer proposes that until a baby is capable of self-awareness there is not a reason not to kill it, here he states no differences between abortion and infanticide. Singer’s views to infanticide and the idea that a life cannot become a person of value until it has an adequate sense of awareness can be inferred to show that he does not disagree with abortion as he does not regard an unborn child as a being with as possessing any form of personhood.

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Peter Singer notes

  • Ethicist Peter Singer argues - “the life of a new-born is less value than the life of a pig”
  • Human babies are not born self-aware, therefore they cannot be classed as persons.
  • Singer - until a baby is capable of self-awareness there is not a reason not to kill it,
  • No differences between abortion and infanticide ( a person who kills an infant, especially their own child)
  • Singer’s views to infanticide and the idea that a life cannot become a person of value until it has an adequate sense of awareness
  • infers that he does not disagree with abortion as he does not regard an unborn child as a being with as possessing any form of personhood
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Mary Anne Warren

Mary Anne Warren also believes that foetuses are not persons, so it is difficult to argue that abortion is wrong if you are not actually killing a person. Although it is very hard to decide when something is a person, as becoming a person is a gradual process depending on both the ability to think and biological factors, and not forgetting social factors.

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Mary Anne Warren notes

  • Mary Anne Warren - foetuses are not persons
  • difficult to argue that abortion is wrong if you are not actually killing a person
  • becoming a person is a gradual process depending on both the ability to think & biological factors, & not forgetting social factors.
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Aristotle

A theory from the Ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle was that a male foetus became a life at 40 days of pregnancy and a female foetus became a life at 90 days of pregnancy. Aristotle’s suggestions however were purely random and illogical as there is no reason for males and females to obtain the right to life at different stages of foetal development.

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Aristotle notes

  • Ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle's theory - was that a male foetus became a life at 40 days of pregnancy
  • a female foetus became a life at 90 days of pregnancy
  • Aristotle’s suggestions were purely random &
  • there is no reason for males & females to obtain the right to life at different stages of foetal development
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Catholic view

The traditional Catholic view is that life begins at the moment of conception (when the sperm meets and fertilises the egg) and from this moment there becomes a human being with potential rather than what some people refer to as a potential human being. Catholics believe the foetus is a living being due to references from the Bible such as Psalm 139:16-18, “You saw me before I was born”, suggesting that life begins before birth.

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Catholic view notes

  • Traditional Catholic view is that life begins at the moment of conception (when the sperm meets and fertilises the egg)
  • From this moment there becomes a human being with potential
  • Rather than what some people refer to as a potential human being.
  • Catholics believe the foetus is a living being
  • Due to references from the Bible such as Psalm 139:16-18, “You saw me before I was born”, suggesting that life begins before birth.
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Muslims

However, one Islamic view proposes that personhood is deemed appropriate at the stage of ensoulment. For many Muslims ensoulment occurs at 120 days of pregnancy, therefore abortions would be allowed up to this date. Although most Muslims regard abortion as wrong and haram – which means forbidden – many accept that abortion may be allowed in certain cases.

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Muslims notes

  • Islamic view - personhood is deemed appropriate at the stage of ensoulment
  • For many Muslims ensoulment occurs at 120 days of pregnancy
  • Therefore abortions would be allowed up to this date.
  • Most Muslims regard abortion as wrong & haram (which means forbidden) many accept that abortion may be allowed in certain cases.
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The Sanctity of life

The sanctity of life is the principle that every person is a sacred child of God, created in his image by him, therefore human life is sacred and should be protected and respected. Only God himself may decide when a person’s life may end. Many Catholic Christians are strictly against abortion as it is the destruction of a human being by another human being and this deliberate taking of a life is against the will of God. The sanctity of life is referred to in various Biblical concepts and the command never to take a life is presented throughout the Bible. For example in the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, “You shall not murder”. In addition Deuteronomy 30:19 states, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore, choose life”. This passage would suggest that the Bible presents views against abortion as abortion would not be choosing life but preventing life from occurring. Many Christians regard human beings to have likeliness to God and to be set apart from other creatures as the stewards of the world. This idea is presented in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image” and can be interpreted to mean that we are a creation of God and we should not have the right to take a life in terms of abortion, only God may decide when a life ends.

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The Sanctity of life notes

  • S of L is the principle that every person is a sacred child of God, created in his image by him, therefore human life is sacred & should be protected & respected.

  • Only God may decide when a person’s life may end.

  • Many Catholic Christians are strictly against abortion as it is the destruction of a human being by another human being & this deliberate taking of a life is against the will of God.

  • S of L is referred to in various Biblical texts & the command never to take a life is presented throughout the Bible.

  • E.g. in the 6th commandment of the Decalogue, “You shall not murder”.

  • E.g.  Deuteronomy 30:19 states, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore, choose life”. This passage suggests that the Bible presents views against abortion as abortion would not be choosing life but preventing life.

  • Christians regard human beings to have likeliness to God & to be set apart from other creatures as the stewards of the world.

  • Presented in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image” & can be interpreted to mean that we are a creation of God & we do not have the right to take a life in terms of abortion, only God may decide when a life ends.

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Quran

Some Muslims follow a similar teaching that only Allah decides who lives or dies. This is represented in the Quran by the passage, “It is He who gives life and causes death” suggesting Allah can be the only cause of death. On the other hand others view the principles of the sanctity of life to be wrong as it cannot be applied to all situations. For example, the idea that life in its early stages should not be classified as sacred because of its lack of personality will disregard the beliefs of the sanctity of life for a foetus and result in the acceptance of abortion.

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Quran notes

  • Muslims follow a similar teaching,  Allah decides who lives or dies.
  • This is represented in the Quran , It is He who gives life and causes death” suggesting Allah can be the only cause of death.
  • On the other hand, others view the principles of the sanctity of life to be wrong as it cannot be applied to all situations.
  • E.g. the idea that life in its early stages should not be classified as sacred because of its lack of personality will disregard the beliefs of the sanctity of life for a foetus & result in the acceptance of abortion.
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Quality of Life

Another concept which presents controversy over the morality of abortion is quality of life. Abortion may be accepted if it will result in an unacceptable quality of life for the child. This could be physical handicaps, genetic problems or mental defects. Some Christians agree with this, however others believe that quality of life should not be assessed on a person’s health but instead their relationship with God. Therefore the argument of quality of life for abortion is invalid to many Christians. The Qur’an does not specifically refer to abortion but offers guidance on related matters, so the Islamic faith follow both the principles of the sanctity of life and the quality of life. The Qur’an states, “Kill not your offspring in fear of poverty”, making clear suggestions that a foetus should not be aborted on the basis of poor financial ground or a lack of ability to provide the child with a good quality of life.

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Quality of Life notes

  • Another concept which presents controversy over the morality of abortion is quality of life.
  • Abortion may be accepted if it will result in an unacceptable quality of life for the child.
  • This could be physical handicaps, genetic problems or mental defects.
  • Some Christians agree with this, however others believe that quality of life should not be assessed on a person’s health but instead their relationship with God.
  • The argument of quality of life for abortion is invalid to many Christians.
  • The Qur’an does not specifically refer to abortion but offers guidance on related matters, so the Islamic faith follow both the principles of the sanctity of life & the quality of life.
  • Qur’an states, “Kill not your offspring in fear of poverty”, making clear suggestions that a foetus should not be aborted on the basis of poor financial ground or a lack of ability to provide the child with a good quality of life.
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Utilitarianism

The theory of utilitarianism is generally supportive of pro-choice views as these can be justified by Jeremy Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus and the idea of basing actions on those which produce the most happiness. Theologian John Calvin proposes that abortion is unethical as the states, “the foetus is already a human being…if it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house then a field because a man’s house is a place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a foetus in the womb before it has come to light”. Calvin argues that a foetus has the same value as man, comparing the murder of a man to the abortion of a foetus. His point is stated that aborting a foetus inside the womb is more damaging that outside of the womb.

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Utilitarianism notes

  • Utilitarianism is generally supportive of pro-choice as this can be justified by Jeremy Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus & the idea of basing actions on those which produce the most happiness.
  • Theologian John Calvin proposes that abortion is unethical as the states, “the foetus is already a human being…if it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house then a field because a man’s house is a place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a foetus in the womb before it has come to light”.
  • Calvin argues that a foetus has the same value as man, comparing the murder of a man to the abortion of a foetus.
  • His point is stated that aborting a foetus inside the womb is more damaging that outside of the womb.
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Church of England

The views of the Church of England are against abortion due to the human duty of care for all life. However there is an understanding within the Church of England that, “the right choice is sometimes the acceptance of the lesser of evils”. Therefore abortion may be accepted in particular circumstances where the consequences are deemed more evil than the act of abortion itself. For example in the incident that pregnancy will risk the mother’s life or the baby’s health resulting that the mother will be unable to cope. Conversely, the Roman Catholic Church have far more strict beliefs that under any circumstances, abortion is always wrong as it is believed than an unborn child is a sacred human life therefore abortion is a serious sin. In these examples, the Roman Catholic Church appear to have a rule utilitarian way of deciding whereas the Church of England takes an act utilitarianism approach where consequences of the abortion are taken into consideration.  The earlier views of the Methodist Church would be that abortion is always evil. However due to advances in medical science and social welfare, the Methodist Church can accept abortion in a similar situation to the Church of England, when it results in the lesser of evils. The issue discussed by the Methodist Church is whether the respect due to a human being is due from the moment of conception.

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Church of England notes

  • C of E are against abortion due to the human duty of care for all life.
  • There is an understanding within the C of E that, “the right choice is sometimes the acceptance of the lesser of evils”.
  • Abortion may be accepted in particular circumstances where the consequences are deemed more evil than the act of abortion itself.
  • E.g. in the incident that pregnancy will risk the mother’s life or the baby’s health resulting that the mother will be unable to cope.
  • Roman Catholic Church have far more strict beliefs that under any circumstances, abortion is always wrong as it is believed than an unborn child is a sacred human life therefore abortion is a serious sin.
  • RC Church appear to have a rule utilitarian way of deciding whereas the C of E takes an act utilitarianism approach where consequences of the abortion are taken into consideration.
  • Methodist Church would be that abortion is always evil.
  • Due to advances in medical science & social welfare, the Methodist Church can accept abortion in a similar situation to the C of E, when it results in the lesser of evils.
  • The issue discussed by the Methodist Church is whether the respect due to a human being is due from the moment of conception.
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The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army consider a person to be of infinite value and a sacred gift from God, therefore believing in the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception. The Salvation Army aim to protect the rights of both the foetus and the mother, therefore accepting abortion in limited circumstances. However they prefer to avoid abortion and advice that when unwanted pregnancies occur that counselling should take place to accept the situation and the foetus should be carried full term. Although if a mother does decide to go ahead with abortion, the Salvation Army will offer pastoral care.

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The Salvation Army notes

  • SA consider a person to be of infinite value & a sacred gift from God
  • Therefore believing in the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception
  • SA aim to protect the rights of the foetus &mother, therefore accepting abortion in limited circumstances.
  • They prefer to avoid abortion & advice that when unwanted pregnancies occur that counselling should take place to accept the situation & the foetus should be carried full term.
  • Although if a mother does decide to go ahead with abortion, the SA will offer pastoral care.
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Pro-choice

On the other hand pro-choice is the idea of encouraging the legal right of a woman to choose whether or not she will have an abortion. Pro-choice views state that in special circumstances such as **** a woman should not be forced to have a baby as she did not chose to get pregnant. A pro-choice organisation is NAF (National Abortion Federation) which promotes women making their own decisions about  reproductive health. NAF gives information about abortion and its implications as well as alternatives to abortions and does not intend to persuade a woman to a particular decision but enforces the freedom of choice.

 

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Pro-choice notes

  • Pro-choice is the idea of encouraging the legal right of a woman to choose whether or not she will have an abortion.
  • PC views, state that in special circumstances such as **** a woman should not be forced to have a baby as she did not chose to get pregnant.
  • A pro-choice organisation - NAF (National Abortion Federation) which promotes women making their own decisions about  reproductive health.
  • NAF gives information about abortion & its implications as well as alternatives to abortions & does not intend to persuade a woman to a particular decision but enforces the freedom of choice.
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Damaging Long Term Effects

An additional view as to why many people believe abortion to be unethical is the idea of the damaging long term effects abortion can have on the people involved. An abortion can result in an infection of the womb. Left untreated may produce more serious infections of a woman’s reproductive organs which in turn can lead to infertility or an ectopic pregnancy. In addition abortions can damage women psychologically causing issues such as: anxiety, depression, alcohol use, drug use and suicidal behavior post to their abortion as well as producing issues with relationships. Abortions can also have negative effects on the family of the woman.

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Damaging Long Term Effects notes

  • An additional view as to why many people believe abortion to be unethical is the idea of the damaging long term effects abortion can have on the people involved.
  • An abortion can result in an infection of the womb.
  • Left untreated may produce more serious infections of a woman’s reproductive organs which in turn can lead to infertility or an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Abortions can damage women psychologically causing issues such as: anxiety, depression, alcohol use, drug use and suicidal behavior post to their abortion as well as producing issues with relationships. Abortions can also have negative effects on the family of the woman
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Conclusion

The right to life contains the principles of the right not to be killed in an unjust way and the right to be provided with everything to sustain life. Many believe that a foetus has the right to life because it is a potential human being and the pregnancy would result in a human baby. However, there is an argument proposing the difference between potential properties and actual properties asking if the rights of a potential human being should be equal to those rights of an actual human being. In this argument many people believe that these rights should only be deemed equal when the potential human being becomes an actual human being, therefore believing that a foetus does not have the right to life as it has just potential. On the other hand, the right to life appears to derive from the idea of being a ‘moral person’. A potential person can therefore become moral when they become an actual person when they are born. However a newborn baby, like a foetus, lacks the characteristics needed to be a moral person so why do they have the right to life and a foetus does not? When deciding on the morality of an abortion, many agree that the practicality of the situation needs to be taken into account. For example, if a woman has become pregnancy as a result of **** then abortion may be seen as an act of love as it is in the best interests of the woman affected.

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Conclusion notes

  • Right to life contains the principles of the right not to be killed in an unjust way &the right to be provided with everything to sustain life.
  • Many believe that a foetus has the right to life because it is a potential human being & the pregnancy would result in a human baby.
  • There is an argument proposing the difference between potential properties & actual properties asking if the rights of a potential human being should be equal to those rights of an actual human being.
  • Many people believe that these rights should only be deemed equal when the potential human being becomes an actual human being, therefore believing that a foetus does not have the right to life as it has just potential.
  • The right to life appears to derive from the idea of being a ‘moral person’. A potential person can therefore become moral when they become an actual person when they are born.
  • A newborn baby, like a foetus, lacks the characteristics needed to be a moral person so why do they have the right to life & a foetus does not? When deciding on the morality of an abortion, many agree that the practicality of the situation needs to be taken into account.
  • E.g. if a woman has become pregnancy as a result of **** then abortion may be seen as an act of love as it is in the best interests of the woman affected.
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Pro-life

Pro-life is a view which is opposing of abortion. Pro-life views include that the rights of an unborn child should be equal to those of the mother therefore the mother should not get the full choice as to whether to abort the child. Also, the idea that a foetus should not be aborted due to physical or mental handicaps as children with these handicaps can lead full and rewarding lives. In addition a pro-life view is to oppose abortion because unwanted babies have the chance to be adopted by a loving family who are desperate for children. Pro-life organisations which as Life offer counseling and support services for anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy, suffering the loss of a baby or coping after abortion. In addition they educate people of their values and principles in a non-religious manner, especially their core principle that “every human individual is equally valuable from fertilisation, the very beginning of their life.”

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Pro-life notes

  • Pro-life - opposing of abortion
  • Pro-life views - the rights of an unborn child should be equal to those of the mother therefore the mother should not get the full choice as to whether to abort the child.
  • A foetus should not be aborted due to physical or mental handicaps as children with these handicaps can lead full & rewarding lives
  • Oppose abortion because unwanted babies have the chance to be adopted by a loving family who are desperate for children.
  • Pro-life organisations which as Life offer counseling &support services for anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy, suffering the loss of a baby or coping after abortion.
  • Educate people of their values & principles in a non-religious manner, especially their core principle that “every human individual is equally valuable from fertilisation, the very beginning of their life.”
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