The Abortion Issue
Abortion has been a very controversial subject over these past few decades. Every time you pick up a paper or magazine it seems there is always some protest regarding abortion, whether it be for fetal rights or women's rights. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica the definition of abortion is "the expulsion of a fetus from the uterus before it has reached the stage of viability (in human beings, usually about the 20th week of gestation). An abortion may occur spontaneously, in which case it is also called a miscarriage, or it may be brought on purposefully, in which case it is often called an induced abortion." This paper will focus only on those abortions which are considered to be induced and will present the argument to both sides, considering both the argument for Pro-life as well as for Pro-choice.
Don Marquis states in his article Why Abortion is Immoral that killing someone is wrong because the killing inflicts the greatest possible loss on the victim. He says that it is not the effect on the murderer and the victim's friends and relatives that makes killing an absolute wrong. Although killing does affect those close to the victim the ultimate harm done is on the victim himself due to their loss of future. Marquis states that killing is regarded as one of the worst crimes because it is depriving people of the value of their future. If this view were applied to abortion it would be easy to see how abortion could be considered wrong. By willingly ending the life of the fetus you are willingly ending their possibility of a future. The fetus has the possibility of having a future with emotions, experiences and activities that are the same as human beings and even closer to that of young children. This argument applies in most cases of abortion but not all. For example, to abort a fetus whose life will be filled with unbearable pain and anguish because of a physical or cognitive disorder could be justified because it could be said that the future of the fetus would be bleak and uncertain. In ways it could be stated that the "means justify the end". It must be noted however, that this acceptance would not apply to all situations of physical and cognitive disabilities; only the most severe cases would qualify. For example, there could be no way to justify inducing an abortion because it has been determined that the child would be born without a hand. With modern day technology there are many ways that would be able to help and assist this child throughout their life and help cope with the disability. Their possibility for a promising future would not be lost due to the fact that they were missing a hand. "Abortion, like ordinary killing, could be justified only by the most compelling reasons" (Marquis, p. 400). The biggest problem with this issue is where to draw the line between severe and bearable pain and disability. What one person might consider not worth living with may be very different from another person's definition. What ends up happening is the development of a "slippery-slope" between permissible and not permissible abortions based on disabilities. There will always be disagreements on which disabilities could be considered to have an impact on a person having a good future.
Many people opposed to abortion rely on the fact that the fetus is a human being from the moment that they are conceived. At that moment a unique DNA is created and they argue that God places a human soul in that just fertilized Ovum (Robinson, p.1). This has seemed to be a continuing debate between both sides. Pro-life activists disagree with the argument that a fetal life becomes a person only when electrical activity begins in the cerebral cortex. They argue that at the time of conception all major decisions as to what that fetus will become have been determined. For example, whether it will be male of female, what height it will be, what build it will be, and what...
Cited: "Abortion." Encyclopaedia Britannica - Online. 1 Oct. 2000.
Anne Minas. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Inc, 2000. 402-409.
Anne Minas. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Inc, 2000. 398-401.
1 Oct. 2002
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning Inc, 2000. 410-417.
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