Abortion: Morally Permissible or Impermissible?
Abortion can be defined as a means of terminating a pregnancy by removing or expelling a fetus from the uterus before viability. Abortion has been, and will always be, a controversial issue in today’s society and in the future. People have always struggled to determine whether it is ethical to abort a fetus; morally permissible (acceptable) or morally impermissible (unacceptable). The polarizing views that are associated with abortion makes this topic extremely controversial. Some believe that abortion is morally impermissible and under any circumstances will it ever be acceptable, while others believe that under certain circumstances it is justifiable. Many philosophers have attempted to tackle the topic of abortion by providing their parameters on what makes it acceptable or unacceptable. The philosophical views of Marquis, Kass, and Purdy will be analyzed in order to highlight the polarizing views of this controversial topic. In addition, an analysis of my stance will be given based on circumstances provided by the philosophical views and also from biological development principles of science in general and some views mentioned by Thomson, which would make abortion morally permissible. Don Marquis expresses that abortion is seriously immoral with very few exceptions to justify abortion being morally permissible. Marquis first develops his argument based on the wrongness of killing an adult human. According to Marquis, the loss of an adult human life is considered to be one of the greatest losses anyone can suffer. Marquis states that the loss of one’s life deprives them of the values that they possess at the time of death and also potential
future value. The loss of a life deprives an individual of experiences, activities, and overall enjoyment, which defines the overall quality of life. In full, it is the end all to what is and what would be in a person’s life. Marquis also touches on a situation where the loss of an adult’s life that is terminally ill is considered to be permissible. Those who face a future of pain and suffering are not considered to have a loss of a future if they were to lose their life due to their quality of life or future not having beneficial value. Marquis goes on to link his wrongness of killing argument by placing the killing of an adult human and the killing of a fetus, infant, or child in the same category. Like humans, Marquis states that fetuses and children alike also have the right to a future of values that include the same values of life that adult humans have; experiences, activities, and enjoyment. Essentially, killing an adult human or child, and aborting a fetus have the same consequences- the loss of a future.
Kass emphasizes moral permissibility of abortion on the basis of a genetically defective fetus. Kass acknowledges that abortion is indeed a moral issue, but raises a bigger question asking is it morally permissible or impermissible to abort a fetus if a prenatal screening reveals a genetic disorder. The question Kass proposes comes with reasons to justify genetic abortion of a fetus in order to determine moral permissibility. These reasons include the prevention of genetic disorders, elimination of suffering families, and to preserve financial and medical resources. In a logical sense, the quality of life for the mother and quality of life for child with a genetic disorder is essential to determining the value of each individual’s life. Kass states that
abortion to save the life of the mother is the most defensible kind of abortion due to the idea that the mother’s right to life comes first and foremost. In addition, the quality of the child’s life should be taken into consideration based on the principle on the equality of all human beings. Like Kass, Purdy also discusses genetic risks and reproduction. The difference Purdy emphasizes is the fact that it is immoral to knowingly reproduce in a...
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