Personhood and Abortion

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The topic of personhood and abortion is a very controversial one. I agree with Marquis and Thomson’s theory on how personhood does not settle the ethical debate on abortion. Therefore, I will explain Don Marquis’s argument, his critique of the traditional pro-life argument, why this argument is far off from the general idea of what a person is and why I agree with his argument. Then, I will discuss Judith Thomson’s argument and why I believe the Burglars and Seed People argument is the most persuasive. Lastly, I will describe what I believe the definition of a person is. Towards the beginning of Marquis’s article he states, “The anti-abortionist charges, not unreasonably, that pro-choice principles concerning killing are too narrow to be acceptable; the pro-choicer charges, not unreasonably, that anti-abortionist principles concerning killing are too broad to be acceptable…All this suggests that a necessary condition of resolving the abortion controversy is a more theoretical account of the wrongness of killing.” (92) I agree that personhood alone does not solve the issue of abortion. His article discusses the principle concerning the wrongness of killing. This principle entails that it is wrong to destroy cancer-cell cultures or any other human cell cultures that are done in a lab. This is far-off from what the general idea of a person is. Cells and a person share little of the same characteristics; therefore, the anti-abortionist’s principle is too broad. Marquis says, “Killing adults is wrong because it deprives them of their future. But in killing a fetus, we are also depriving it of its future. Thus, it seems inconsistent to object to one but not the other.” (90) Basically, he is saying that if we think killing an adult is wrong then we ought to think that killing a fetus is wrong. Marquis concentrates on applying that personhood doesn’t matter when arguing about abortion because most arguments involving personhood are too narrow or too broad...
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