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Should Abortion be legal world wide despite religious beliefs?

My question to you is do you believe that abortion should be made legal world wide despite people's religious beliefs?

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    May 18 2012: Many "non-religious" people also oppose abortion. What you are really asking is should we impose a law regardless of what people think; that view doesn't have a very good track record.

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    May 18 2012: There is a shortcut to this issue. No matter of law should worry about people's religious beliefs.
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      May 18 2012: You really BELIEVE that ?
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    May 18 2012: How something gains "legal" status depends on the type of government. If the population of a country is allowed to express their desires and laws are then made according to the majority opinion then termination of pregancies at-will should be legal if the majority so indicates. If a king, or dictator simply declares pregnancy termination at-will is legal then it is legal by might. Your question is complicated by the caveat "despite religious beliefs". Why do you stipulate "religious"? Why not simply "beliefs"? Then the question becomes "Should people's beliefs be considered in deciding whether or not pregnancies can be legally terminated at-will"? At some point the idea of right and wrong can no longer be avoided.
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    May 18 2012: Ethan,
    This is my view on abortion; abortion is often the result of unwanted pregnancies. If we stop unwanted pregnancies, the abortion issue goes away.

    God's way of dealing with overpopulation is war, famine, drought, and disease. If abortion is illegal due to religion, you have four other choices.

    There are approximately 10,000 children dying every day due to starvation or want of simple medicine. If we can't keep the people alive that are now living, how is adding to that number going to improve things?

    I believe that the problem boils down to sexual infidelity. If we are not going to be morally clean, we are going to reap the consequences however they may be. My choice is to live a morally clean life and then I don't have to worry about how we handle the mess that follows. I am a Christian. I don't believe in abortion. I won't fight to make it illegal for the above named reasons. Neither will I advise anyone to abort their child. I'll only advise them to seek God's council through prayer.
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        May 18 2012: Obey,
        You may be right about me linking disparate ideas. Starvation in third world countries is not primarily due to unwanted pregnancies, it is due to uncontrolled breeding. Abortion is one method of birth control, albeit a poor method, but making it illegal doesn't help matters. Sex education is the best method, although it doesn't do any good if you have males that have no sexual morality. Rape is common in third world countries.

        By now, you should realize that I see God and the workings of nature as synonymous. Nature's way and God' way are one and the same to me. There is no separate deity saying that this is the way it's going to be. It is the way nature works. So if humans over-breed, we already know how nature deals with it. I mentioned God because the talk includes a reference to religion.

        There are many abortions that are the product of sexual infidelity; the father doesn't want his wife to know he has a mistress; the father is a rapist, the father made promises that he never intended to keep; one or both partners are drug or alcohol dependent; one or both partners were not in their right mind when they had sex; there's probably a long list to add to this.

        I guess the point I am trying to make is making abortion illegal doesn't solve anything other than to appease the thinking of religious fundamentalists, while having serious side effects to society at large. And making abortion legal world wide may be sending the wrong signals, that abortion is a socially acceptable means of birth control. Many mothers find that having an abortion comes back to haunt them. I feel we need to regard abortion as an undesirable solution to our problems. Morality and righteous living will reduce its need considerably.
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          May 21 2012: Roy you are very logical like many engineers but I think you miss some other possibilities. Most of what you describe as "God's" methods to control population are not necessarily his nor natures, they are just dynamics. Overpopulation can describe a situation were there is famine or you can say lack of development or education or a society that lacks the ability to cooperate well. The number of people per square mile that constitutes overpopulation has yet to be proven so far as I know. Still I like your basic attitude. For myself I hate to see religion or any illogical belief used to limit basic personal freedom. Mr. Santorum's statement that conception through rape is a gift of God does not relate to any God I could worship. For myself I could support 0 tolerance for abortion after the first trimester (and that for rape or incest or the health of the mother) if all women were freely supplied with the morning after pill upon evidence of first menstruation ( to coincide with comprehensive health education). There would also need to be enforcement of a "father's" support for 18 years for mother and child. To be paid primarily by a tax on all sexually active males and those who oppose abortion, that is if the sperm donor cannot cover it.
  • Jun 15 2012: Yes.
  • May 29 2012: I believe their may be a better way to phrase the question, while staying true to your intent.

    "Are their laws which should be considered unjust on a global scale, or are there laws which should exist on a global scale? Who determines which laws should or should not be applied to sovereign nations globally? What do you do when those laws directly conflict with moral and ethical character of that sovereign nation (and that nation's own laws)?"

    I'll start with the least level of controversy. I believe there should be no laws prohibiting or discouraging the use of contraception by those who wish to use them. I believe there should be no laws prohibiting the termination of a pregnancy in the case of rape or incest. I believe there should be no laws prohibiting the termination of a pregnancy when it threatens the health of the mother. I'm going to limit my discussion to these beliefs for the time being.

    I think that it would be a good thing to lobby the various nations of the world to adopt these beliefs as well. Maybe that answers your question.

    Believing all of that, do I believe that the international community should place economic sanctions on a country that doesn't act accordingly? Believe all of that, do I believe that the international community should go to war to ensure that those rights are granted?

    Keep in mind, that genocide often goes unchecked until it threatens the stability of a whole region.
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    May 28 2012: Abortion is a personal issue which can only be decided by the individual, everyone else should mind their own business, climb down from their white steed and quit trying to convince the rest of us that they are fighting their god's war to save children.
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    May 22 2012: Chad,
    God, nature, dynamics, they are all intertwined to me. We are interactive beings with the power that controls life. Many believe that that power has no directive. I don't buy into that because of what I have seen and studied. Regardless, whatever we do, we are either in harmony with nature's unfolding or we are not. Those who think that rules were made to be broken often are the same ones who say life sucks and then you die. It goes with the territory. That was the point I was trying to make. We reap the rewards or consequences of our actions.

    As far as people per square mile that constitutes overpopulation; depends on the fertility of the soil, layout of the land, average rainfall, etc. It's a complicated subject, so data is going to be staggered. It's like trying to predict the weather. Computer models are only as accurate as the data you feed them.

    Conception through rape is the realm of evil. I wouldn't worship that god either.

    I know a state worker who's job is to hunt down deadbeat fathers and hold them accountable. He said it's like beating a dead horse. They know every trick in the book and avoid paying child support by every means that they can. They'll quit their job, get themselves fired, move in with someone with no forwarding address, cry poverty, fake illness or injury, you name it, they do it. The bottom line is that we, the taxpayer, often end up holding the responsibility to raise the child.

    In my opinion, abortion is a double-edged sword; damned if we do, damned if we don't. I say make your own choice. We will all have to answer to our maker for what choices we made, so think about it first. Not saying your answer wasn't good, just want to give you food for thought.
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    May 20 2012: Here is a bit of TED history with a bearing on this question and the emerging discussion around it.

    At this conversation on what values we shared here at TED:

    we set up a google moderator to capture consensus around expressed values that we believed were widely shared at TED:

    Interesting to note that abortion ad fetal rights were not mentioned specifically but it would be interesting to add this proposition to the moderator so all viewing and particpating in this discssion could also express their view as a vote at the moderator. Also, in what was expressed is there support for abortion rights and fetal rights?

    Here is a link to the U.N. Declaration of Universal Human Rights:

    It expresses rights in very and fundamental terms so does not mention abortion or fetal rights specifically.

    Do you think it covers abortion and legal rights though in the principles set forth?
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    Josh S

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    May 19 2012: It depends not really on religious beliefs, but based on when a life is considered a life. Is it at conception or at birth? or somewhere in between? That's the real question, if you can answer that the question changes from allowing murder to allowing simple removal of something unwanted in the body.

    Technically, a sperm cell is alive, a egg cell is alive, does that make a embryo alive? Currently requirements for life are generally as follows: (from cliffsnotes not my creation)
    Complex organization

    The legality of this question relies on the answer to the above question.

    Of course, there is the issue of should this sort of law be mandated over the entire world. I personally think it should be on a country by country basis. Logically, the only thing giving the UN its power is the support of the countries that make it up, and if many countries disagreed with this it probably wouldnt even be able to become law.
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        Josh S

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        May 20 2012: Yes i do agree with you on all your points,
        for me the argument rests on when the embryo is considered another human, because at that point killing it is essentially murder. The way i meant explain it was the since other things are alive, like bacteria and parasites, embryos should be considered alive and because they are alive, considered human. At this point it would be wrong to kill it but that is just my view point.
        We could look at a 1 day old baby. Noone would question that killing it would be murder, yet it still remains to be 'leeching' off of nutrients from the mother, and without constant care it would die. The only difference is that it is on the outside of the mother and is no longer connected to the mother.

        In my opinion, that movement from inside the mother to outside does not really constitute something changing from non-human to human, but again, thats just how i feel on it.

        Good conversation =)
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    May 18 2012: We have had many many discussions about global governance here at TED Conversations and they have been very helpful to me in thinking through the limits of soverignty..where is boundatu where global interests ( or the interests of adjacent countries )?

    I don't think that abortion is one of those issues. Abortion I think fals within "Sovereign Rights" ( the right sof nation to make and enforce laws with no outside interference or challenges. That puts people of childbearing age who do not agree with anti abortion policies in the very tough place of having to take great risk to have an abortion, or gives only the well to do the option of traveling to a country where abortion is legal.

    I don't think it is a human rights issue ( in terms of prosecuting people who choose abortion or offer abortion) that warrants outside intervention.
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        May 20 2012: Obey No1kinobe, well said.

        You point to something important beyond sovereign fundamental universal human rights..aspirations for a global community.

        Becoming a global community will eventually erase the gap between what we might declare to be universal human rights and a nations invocation of sovereign rights to establish laws conistent with culture and tradition.

        Ideally, there would be no gap..all nations would be united and of one accord on fundamental universal human rights. We have become willing as a world community to recognize that some of what is claimed under sovereign righs are crimes against humanity and have been willing to take action as a world community to force nations to end such practices.

        At the moment, neither a woman's right to choose whether or not to bear a child nor the universal human rights of the unborn are on the U.N.'s declaration of universal human rights.

        I don't ahree with you at all that "what is right ethically on balance for one group is for all groups"
        Ethics and morality are normative..i.e. cultural or by consensus..they are not absolute or fundamental.

        When we speak of, or seek to define "universal human rights" we are looking to something that transcends religion culture history and tradition..we are looking to the essence of what it means to be human and to honor human life, to what serves life, to what serves humanity. As a global community we are in our infancy on this score we are crawling our way towards even thinking in these terms. A few nations like Equador and Iceland have adopted modern constitutions that include expressions of this humanity, statements of obligation to collaboratively commit to stewardship for humanity now and for future generations.

        Ethan's question was shoud abortion be a universal LEGAL right..My answer is we are a long way from even locating it on a universal human rights basis which puts us very very far away from any notion of universal LEGAL rights.,
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    May 18 2012: We live in a society that tries so hard not to reap what it has sown(or what it sows). We shy away from moral issues as if young people will just grope in the dark of societal complexities and stumble on the right choices. We are good at cutting branches when uprooting would be better. The issue of unwanted pregnancy should be tackled by making right choices. But when it pertains to the law; democratic societies could decide by vote, other societies should also decide based on culture/religion/traditions.

    This idea of legalising abortion 'worldwide' is just not sounding right. For where is the democracy if people all over the world have the same views,laws and viewpoints?
    There should be debates about this, but a decision has to be made; but someone should not think abortion has to be legal all over the world because it is legal in his/her town/village/city.