Abortion and Morals

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The Immorality of Abortion

Religion, personal rights, or science normally fuels the debate on abortion. However abortion can be looked at philosophically and debated whether it is moral or immoral. In this paper I will argue that abortion is immoral because it deprives the zygote from any future life.

In The Journal of Philosophy, Don Marquis argues in his essay, “Why Abortion is Immoral” that abortion is wrong because it deprives the fetus of a ‘future like ours’. I agree with his claim, but feel his overall argument is weak because of word fetus and the statement ‘future like ours’. His use of the word fetus was told to represent all stages of pregnancy, since that was not his debate. However in my argument the word zygote will be used, since a zygote would be the earliest form of a potential life. The idea in his statement ‘Future like ours’ is the same as mine, but I feel the claim ‘like ours’ makes it unclear. For example killing someone will deprive him or her of a future like mine, but also making someone blind or paralyzed or any other thing that hinders life will deprive him or her of a future like mine. Since we are talking specifically any future life at all and not just a worse life I will use the statement any future life; which includes any life whether it is like ours or not.

This paper is not here to argue whether or not the zygote is a human being, has a right to life, is conscious, can feel pain, or any of the normal debates. It also does not apply to the rare cases of abortion involving rape or the mother’s life being at risk. This paper is to argue simply that when a sperm and ovum create a zygote, that zygote has a future and abortion immorally takes that away.

In order to establish that abortion is immoral we must first solve whether killing an adult is moral or not. When people are held at gunpoint, fear starts to set in that their life might be over, which is why they become terrified. Life therefore has value. “The loss of one’s life deprives one of all the experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments that would otherwise have constituted one’s future”(Marquis). A leading online dictionary Merriam Webster defines killing as to deprive of life: cause the death of. When an adult is killed, he or she is deprived from the rest of their life. The adult is robbed of their future, which is the ultimate loss, “…what makes killing any adult human being prima facie seriously wrong is the loss of his or her future”(Marquis). The philosopher Marquis supported this theory with two considerations. He first stated that this explains why killing is considered one of the world’s worst crimes. “Killing…deprives the victim of more than perhaps any other crime”(Marquis). His second consideration is that when someone is diagnosed with any terminal illness they believe that dying is a very bad thing. Dying is hard to deal with because you see that you no longer have a future. With the future being the key aspect on why killing is so wrong and dying so hard to deal with, you can see that killing an adult is immoral because it takes away their future life.

A zygote has a future life as well. Whether the zygote grows up to cure cancer, become the president or just the local garbage man, is irrelevant. Don marquis asserts that, “The future of a standard fetus includes a set of experiences, projects, activities, and such which are identical with the futures of adult human beings and are identical with the futures of young children”(Marquis). The point being is that the zygote has a future, just like any adult or child does. The only way to take that future life away from that zygote is the same way it is taken away from an adult, by killing (BBC). Since killing an adult is immoral because it takes away their future life, abortion is therefore also immoral. Marquis explains that this conclusion proceeded independently of the potential person, personhood, and right to life...
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