• There are three basic positions on abortion and they all center on the question of the human status of the unborn.
• There are three ways of looking at the status of the unborn; fully human, potentially human and subhuman.
• Those who believe the unborn are subhuman favor abortion on demand.
• Those who believe the unborn are fully human are against abortion.
• Those who argue the unborn are potentially human favor abortion in specified circumstances.
• In the ethics of abortion, the status of the unborn is of ultimate importance. If the unborn are truly human, then the prohibition against taking human life applies to them as well. On the other hand, if the unborn are appendages or extensions of their mothers’ bodies, then abortion is no more serious than an appendectomy.
• Another important issue is the relationship between the right to life and the right to privacy. If human life takes precedence over personal privacy, then aborting a human fetus on the basis of the right to privacy is unjustified. If, on the other hand, the mother’s right to privacy takes priority over the baby’s right to life, then abortion is justified
Three Views of Abortion
|Status of the unborn |Fully human |Potentially human |Subhuman | |Abortion |Never |Sometimes |Anytime | |Basis |Sanctity of life |Emergence of life |Quality of life | |Mother’s rights |Life over privacy |Combination of rights |Privacy over life |
Abortion at anytime: The belief that the fetus is subhuman
• Emphasis is on the woman’s right to privacy over the state’s interest in regulating abortions.
• The pro-abortionist’s self-designation as “pro-choice” places emphasis on the right of the mother to decide whether she wants to have a baby. It reveals the belief that the right to privacy is dominant in the decision. Many proponents believe that no unwanted baby should ever be born. No woman should be forced to have a baby against her will.
• The pro-abortion position is dependent on the belief that the unborn is not fully human.
Biblical Arguments for viewing the fetus as subhuman
• Gen 2:7 declares man became a living being only after God gave him life. Since breathing does not occur until birth, it is argued that the unborn are not human until they are born.
• Job 34:14-15 says that if God “withdrew his spirit and breath, all mankind would perish.” Here again, the argument is that since life is connected with breath, there is no human life without breath.
• Ecclesiastes 6:3-5 declares that “a stillborn child” comes into the world “without meaning, it departs in darkness…” This is taken to indicate that the unborn are no more than the dead, who also know nothing but lie in darkness of the grave (9:10).
• Matt 26:24 records Jesus’ statement about Judas that “it would have been better for him if he had not been born.” The implication drawn from this is that human life begins at birth. Otherwise, Jesus should have said it would have been better for him never to have been conceived.
Other arguments for viewing the fetus as subhuman
• The argument from self-consciousness-It is argues by some that a baby is not a human until it possesses self-consciousness. Since no infant in the womb is self-conscious, this would argue in favor of a subhuman status for the unborn and this ground abortion would be permissible.
• The argument from physical dependence-the baby is viewed as an extension of the mother’s body and the mother has the right to control her own body and reproductive system. Since the baby is intruding on the mother’s physical...
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