Are drug-induced abortions ethical?

I am a man and don't have a uterus. I realize that only women have the final say in choosing between life or death for their unborn fetuses. I recognize that I am in no position to preach about the ethical implications of abortion to an audience filled with women who bear such a burdensome responsibility.

Rather, I entrust you with the responsibility to make your own judgments about such a stirring controversial issue .

A study published last week reported that doctors can now induce abortions for women in their first nine weeks of pregnancy with a combination of two drugs, methotrexate and misoprostol.

Methotrexate, an anti-cancer drug, is used to kill the fetus by destabilizing the uterine lining, and misoprostol, an anti-ulcer drug, is used to cause the uterine contractions which expel the dead fetus. The drug combination, although successful in 171 of 178 women tested thus far, has not been proven to be more effective than surgery, and the F.D.A. has not approved the drug combination for the specific use of inducing abortions.

Such a highly controversial topic like abortion has people torn between the freedom of choice and the right to life. Pro choice supporters will surely applaud this drug treatment. Now, those who choose to exercise their constitutional right can bypass the herds of anti-abortion picketers around abortion clinics and have the drugs prescribed by their own doctors.

USA Today (Sept. 1, 1995) quoted Dr. Richard U. Hausknecht, the doctor from Mount Sinai Medical Center who conducted the study, saying that "this is an exciting phenomenon because it will provide yet another choice for women."

The release of this study is sure to spark outrage in the hearts of anti-abortion activists who will surely demand Congress to pass laws against yet another way to abort a fetus. Anti-abortion activists from Operation Rescue have already proclaimed that this new drug combination is a form of "chemical warfare against children," and they have planned protests against the drug treatment.

First, although I am strongly opposed to violent protests against those who give and receive abortions, I don't mind the non-violent picketing that surrounds abortions clinics. The protesters are taking advantage of their constitutional rights just like those who come to receive an abortion.

Women choosing abortion must prepare their conscience to withstand the demonstrator's oppressive barrage of caustic remarks. Picketers don't stop abortions, but instead make women question their decision to end the existence of an unborn fetus. Is that so wrong?

With respect to this new drug combination, I ask whether it will make abortion too easy for those who consider abortion a form of birth control rather than accepting the responsibility linked to having sex.

It frustrates me to hear that women too young to drive are forced to make life or death decisions about the fate of their baby. It frustrates me more to hear about ignorant and irresponsible men who leave those women alone to deal with the result of their night of meaningless sex.

Should we allow these drug-induced abortions for those who abuse abortion as a form of birth control, or should we save such technology for those involved in rape and incest, where the reasons for choosing the procedure are on an entirely different level?

It's unfortunate that many even have to face the decision of whether or not to abort. This country, however, has to confront the underlying problem of its rapidly decaying value system before it allows abortion to become a simple solution to a complicated dilemma. As a society, we may be failing in our efforts to instill in its children certain values that would make it unnecessary for them to even have to consider getting an abortion.

Our society glorifies the human body, but so often we don't remember that there's more to love than sex. Many have learned to respect their mate for nothing more than their genitalia.

Maybe I'm an idealist.

I question the ethical implications involved with allowing doctors to make it just as easy for patients to get a prescription for abortion as getting a dose of penicillin. Will society embrace these drugs as a beneficial type of medical treatment, or will we see doctors who prescribe them as criminals who write prescriptions for murder?

This drug combination does make it easier for women to receive a hassle-free abortion, but are we allowing technological leaps to race ahead of our very human ethical concerns about taking the life of a child before he or she tastes a breath outside the womb?

Human life is the most spectacular technological achievement we know of, but the human mind continues to think of more and more ways to destroy itself.

A peculiar paradox .

Adam Djurdjulov is a journalism junior.

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