Abortion Essay, Research Paper
Philosophy Essay ? Abortion
When does life actually begin? When, if ever, is it right to terminate a
pregnancy? These are some of the moral dilemmas that are faced when dealing with the
issue of abortion. Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. There are many different
stands held on the issue of abortion. For those holding a conservative view on abortion,
abortion is never acceptable except when necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman.
In contrast, the liberal view believes that abortion is always ethically acceptable at any
point of fetal development, and for any reason. Finally, there are those in the middle, that
hold the moderate view. They believe that abortion is ethically acceptable up to a certain
point of fetal development and that some reasons are acceptable.
Mary Anne Warren?s Argument for Abortion
Mary Anne Warren?s stand on abortion is that of a liberal one. In her article, On
the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion, she concludes that ??a women?s right to
protect her health, happiness, freedom, and even her life, by terminating an unwanted
pregnancy, will always override whatever right to life it may be appropriate to ascribe to
a fetus, even a fully developed one.? (pg.16, Mappes) Warren believes that abortion is
permittable because the fetus is not a fully developed person with moral characteristics;
they are human beings that are not yet a person. She contends that in order to be
considered a human, we must satisfy five traits. These five traits are:
1 consciousness (of objects and events external and/or internal to the being), and in particular the capacity to feel pain:
2reasoning (the developed capacity to solve new and relatively complex problems);
3self-motivated activity (activity which is relatively independent of either genetic or direct external control);
4the capacity to communicate, by whatever means, messages of an indefinite variety of types, that is, not just with an indefinite number of possible contents, but on indefinitely many possible topics;
5the presence of self-concepts and self-awareness, wither individual or racial, or both. (pg.12, Mappes)
And since a fetus does not possess these five characters, she believes that they are not
entitled to have full moral status, and may be terminated during any stage of pregnancy.
To support her conclusion she uses creative stories, such as a story about if we landed on
a planet how would we be able to distinguish the aliens as those holding morals
such as ourselves, or things in which we could eat. She also uses another story about if
we were captured by aliens who wanted to make genetic copies of ourselves, by which
we would actually loose our life. She says that no matter how many lives would be made
out of us, we should not have to give up our freedom for others. These stories are also
the main strengths in her argument because it makes the reader look at the issue of
abortion in a different light. By using these stories, the reader is convinced to take a
deeper look into his or her opinion.
The weaknesses to her argument is that if we were to support her argument, that
pregnancy should be able to be terminated at any stage, then we could fall into a slippery
slope. Another weakness to this argument is that abortion could end up being another
form of birth control for those who are irresponsible. Instead of it being for those who
actually have valid reasons, it becomes available to anyone for any reason, therefore
simply becoming another form of birth control. Finally, she fails to mention that
abortions can be damaging to a women?s health. She talks about how it is our bodies
and that we have a right to do what we want to, to keep them healthy, but fails to bring to
our attention that abortions are not healthy for us.
Don Marquis? Argument against Abortion
In contrast to Marry Anne Warren, Marquis holds a conservative view on
abortion. In the article, ?Why Abortion is Immoral,? Marquis concludes that ?This essay
sets out an argument that purports to show?that abortion?is seriously immoral, that it is
in the same moral category as killing an innocent adult human being.?(pg.27, Mappes)
The main reasons backing up his argument are, for one, simply that it is wrong to kill us.
When we are killed we suffer the greatest loss of all, our life. Second, killing us deprives
us of our future experiences; depriving us of our future deprives us of more than perhaps
any other crime. And third, since a fetus possess a property, the possession of which in
adult beings is sufficient to make killing an adult human being wrong, then abortion is
Marquis? main strength in his argument against abortion is that it sets up a strong
stand that killing of any kind, especially of those that are our future is always wrong.
There are also weaknesses to the argument as well. For one, he compares the killing of
us to the killing of animals, therefore basically implying that we are at the same moral
status as animals, which I think many would not agree with and look down upon. As
well, the article itself was not all that clear or interesting; the author seemed to jump
around a bit, and not express his opinion very strongly. I was not as convinced by his
argument as I was for Warren?s argument, not that I am for either one?s argument, merely
that Warren?s argument was much stronger.
My Argument on Abortion
Abortion is a very serious and complicated issue. I would have to say that I am
firm on my stand that abortion is a women?s choice to a certain degree; therefore I feel
that I hold the moderate view on abortion. The reasons for my opinion being more to the
middle of the extreme views is that the destruction of any life should not be merely up to
ourselves to decide. Abortion should not be a solution to our irresponsible actions, nor
should it not be allowed to those really needing to terminate their pregnancy. If abortion
were available to all women for any reason, at any stage of pregnancy, we would become
desensitized to the fact that a life is actually being destroyed. Likewise, if abortion was
only available to those in order to save their lives, or because they were raped, then there
would be a lot of unwanted infants in this world being neglected and not being cared for.
Mappes, Thomas A. and Jane S.Zembaty
1997Social Ethics ? Morality and Social Policy. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.