The Abortion and the Utilitarian View

Topics: Pregnancy, Abortion, Ethics Pages: 4 (1369 words) Published: March 13, 2012
The abortion and the utilitarian view
Abortion is a sensitive topic that requires a considerable amount of understanding when addressing the ethics behind it. Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy thus ending the life of the embryo/fetus prematurely (Matthews MP, Dutt T, 1998). My ethical justification for abortion stems from a utilitarianism standpoint. When using the utilitarian consequential principle of ethics, we establish a set of general morals and rules in which we can apply to every moral question based upon our utilitarian findings. When this is applied to abortion, we can see that abortion is a completely ethical entity that provides “the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people” (Jeremy Bentham, 1789). Since utilitarianism in general is based on the empirical evidence that supports the widespread happiness of many, it’s important to include statistical data to support one’s position. By looking at the medical and social health benefits of abortion, we can come to the conclusion that it is ethical on the basis that it spreads happiness amongst a great number of the populace. “Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unintended, and about half of these are terminated by medically safe, legal abortions. In 2000, 1.31 million abortions took place, down from an estimated 1.61 million in 1990. From 1973 through 2000, more than 39 million legal abortions occurred. Following the legalization of abortion, the largest decline in birthrates were seen among women for whom the health and social consequences of unintended childbearing are the greatest — women over 35, teenagers, and unmarried women (Levine, et al., 1999). Today, thirty percent of the abortions in the U.S. are provided to women over 35 and to teenagers. If safe, legal abortion were not available, more women would experience unwanted childbearing, and unwanted childbearing affects the entire family. Mothers with unwanted births suffer from higher levels...
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