How Are Religious and Ethical Principles Used in the Abortion Debate?

Topics: Abortion, Pregnancy, Morality, Ethics, Abortion debate, Fetus / Pages: 14 (3338 words) / Published: Sep 17th, 2012
How are religious and ethical principles used in the abortion debate?

Abortion has been legal in the United Kingdom since the Abortion Act of 1967, which was further amended in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990, lowering the length of pregnancy in which it is legal to have an abortion from 28 weeks to 24 weeks, owing to advances in medicine and a decrease in the age of viability of a foetus. There are four criteria which allow women to have an abortion, as long as they have the consent of two doctors, involving risk to the physical or mental health of the mother or the foetus or mental health of any existing children. In 2004, 95% of abortions in the UK were certified under the statuary ground of risk of injury to the mental or physical health of the pregnant woman. Abortion is a hugely controversial subject and religious and ethical principles such as Catholic natural moral law, Church of England moral views, utilitarianism, situation ethics, and Kantian deontology can be applied in order to decide whether abortion is moral.

An idea central to the abortion debate is personhood and when a foetus can be classed as a person. There are many different beliefs e.g. at the age of viability, at conception, at birth, when the foetus has a heartbeat etc. J Glover said that determining the point at which a foetus can be considered a person is logically impossible and to attempt to do so is like trying to define at what point a cake mix becomes a cake. Peter Singer said that a person is someone who has the ability to plan and anticipate ones future and since the foetus is unable to do this, it isn’t a person. Singer believed that the right to life is grounded in personhood and therefore abortion can be justified. However, this definition has flaws in that it fails to include babies and young children, as well as the mentally disabled, surely all of which we class as people? Mary Anne Warren suggested the following criteria to define a person;

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Abortion Ethical Debate
  • Abortion: An Ethical Debate
  • The Abortion Debate
  • The Abortion Debate
  • The Abortion Debate
  • The Abortion Debate
  • Abortion Debate
  • Abortion: Ethical Principles Of Autonomy In Women
  • Abortion Debate
  • Abortion Debate