Abortion can be a really hot issue. In the U.S. abortion has been legal since 1973 [Roe vs. Wade] and yet it is one of the most divisive question and public opinion seems polarized between 'pro-life' and 'pro-choice' beliefs – both expressions being obviously highly manipulative. Interestingly, abortion is not really a hot issue in most of Western Europe, even if the debate about the Constitution has underlined some divisions between nations. I believe that the strong feelings some people have about the issue is linked to a quasi-religious approach based on strong personal moral beliefs.
On the one hand, 'pro-choice' advocates support the right of women to have full control of their bodies, and on the other hand, 'pro-life' people point on that all human life is sacred. Both positions have equal legitimate moral value.
The major difference is in fact simply about what constitutes a human being, as the Schiavo case recently underlined more acutely. The term 'human life' can be misleading if it is not clearly defined. If one chooses to define it as 'any living thing with human DNA', it can be an ovum, a spermatozoon, a zygote, an embryo, a foetus, a newborn but also just body parts such as a white blood cell, sperm cell, or even a hair, or some skin. Therefore all human life does not constitute a human person.
There is a societal consensus that newborns constitute people, the disagreement is about how much before birth does personhood begin. And you find a whole range of belief from the very moment of conception to the actual time of birth. The reason why there is such a wide scale of opinion shows the entire subjectivity of the matter. In reality, nobody knows for sure for it is not a scientific question but a moral one. We all have to make a choice of some kind about what to believe, a choice purely based on a subjective approach influenced by a great number of factors.
Whatever our position may be, it might thus be wise though to acknowledge that our belief in this matter is entirely subjective and it then becomes particularly irrelevant to have heated arguments about it, albeit make the whole issue a priority in national or international politics as if the other side was pure evil.
It should also be said that the Bible – and particularly the N.T. – never specifically mentions the topic of abortion (even thought it was widely known in the Ancient World) and that Christians have been divided over the issue throughout history. (Saint Augustine, for instance favored abortion because be believed in the ‘delayed ensoulment’ belief of Aristotle.).
It is clear that in many ways, it is a complex and highly personal issue but at the same time, it can be made very simple with a pragmatic approach: I believe it is good to legalize abortion just because the alternative is a lot worse.
Women have always had abortions and they always will, so it is better that those abortions are practiced in safe and somewhat controlled environments where the women in need can be given possible alternatives and psychological hep and in my opinion, their safety and their health should be the priority. The alternative is to have women use backroom doctors, or thrown a knitting needle into their wombs - that’s the main reason why it is important that abortion should be legal. The rest is a question of faith. For a very good site on the question, go to http://www.religioustolerance.org/abortion1.htm