Ethical Issues in Abortion

Topics: Pregnancy, Abortion, Death Pages: 9 (2732 words) Published: August 27, 2013
Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus, resulting in or caused by its death. Types
1. Spontaneous abortion
* Spontaneous abortion is the expulsion of the fetus and other products of conception from the uterus before the fetus is capable of living outside of the uterus. Spontaneous abortions are further divided into six types.

a. Threatened abortion: It is characterized by cramping and vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy with no cervical dilation. It may subside or an incomplete abortion may follow. b. Imminent or inevitable abortion - is characterized by bleeding, cramping and cervical dilation. Termination cannot be prevented. c. Incomplete abortion is characterized by expulsion of only part of the products of conception (usually the fetus). Bleeding occur with cervical dilation. d. Complete abortion is characterized by complete expulsion of all products of conception. e. Missed abortion is characterized by early fetus intrauterine death without expulsion of the products of conception. The cervix is closed, and the client may report dark brown vaginal discharge. Pregnancy test findings are negative. f. Recurrent (habitual) abortion is spontaneous abortion of three or more consecutive pregnancies. 2. Induced abortion - this type of abortion uses drugs or instruments to stop the normal course of pregnancy.  

* Kant Ethics- From this we can deduce that humans have intrinsic as opposed to instrumental value because they were purposely and uniquely designed in the loving image of their creator and therefore should not be treated as a means to an end but as ends in themselves (Kant). Thus, killing a fetus to reach the end that is for the benefit of the mother is not treating the fetus as a means to an end.

Applying Kant’s Categorical Imperative to abortion:
1)The Universal Law
All moral statements should be both universalisable (applied to all people in a situations) and willed to be universalised. If they are not universalisable then they are contradictions in the Law of Nature, and if they cannot be willed to be universalised they are contradictions in the Law of the Will. “So act that the maxim of your will could always hold at the same time as a principle establishing universal law”. If you were to universalise abortion the human race would become extinct and there would be no one left to have an abortion, thus abortion is a contradiction in the Law of Nature. Furthermore, one may not will abortion to be universalised in all circumstances, e.g. a mother has an abortion simply because she wants to go on holiday, and therefore can also be seen as a contradiction in the Law of the Will.

2) Treat humans as ends in themselves-
People should always be treated as ends in themselves and not as a means to an end Kant argued that people and foetuses have intrinsic value and not instrumental value – they cannot be disposed of for the benefits of others.

Therefore, according to the Categorical Imperative, abortion is morally wrong in all circumstances. However, this is only the case if ethical status and moral worth can be extended to a pre-mature being such as a fetus. Kant did not make his view on this clear and did not deal with potentiality (the potential of a foetus to become a human).

Kant distinguished between three types of beings:
1)People–rational Agents
2) People with partial rights – people who lack rights e.g. children, mentally disabled 3) Things – animals, plants etc (things can be treated as a means to an end)

Kant did not make it clear where he classified foetuses. If they are classified as things, Kant might justify abortion on the basis that they can be treated as a means to an end.

* NATURAL LAW (ABSOLUTE, DEONTOLOGICAL) - Aquinas postulated that humans have the ability to reason which leads to a knowledge of five primary precepts. From these five...
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