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Abortion is perhaps the most divisive and contentious moral and legal issue in contemporary American culture and politics. There is a continuing debate about its morality, with people expressing varying viewpoints and beliefs. The contestants were divided into two groups: pro-life and pro-choice, based on their views on the morality of abortion. Despite the fact that many people hold biased views and opinions about abortion's morality, few take a rational and philosophical approach to this contentious issue. Because some people believe abortion is morally wrong and unacceptable, I've come up with a list of situations in which abortion is both morally right and acceptable.
If a mother is having an abortion for her own health, it is morally acceptable. There are circumstances in which abortion can be morally right and acceptable.
Abortion is morally acceptable if a mother is doing it for her wellness. There are circumstances when a pregnancy threatens a mother's life. For such mothers, to defend themselves, it is ethically and morally right to terminate their pregnancies. Every human being has a right to protect themselves against every danger even if this would result in deaths in extreme circumstances. Thomas Hobbes would support this opinion as he believed human beings are naturally selfish and have every right to defend themselves from anything that might harm them. He would say it is morally right if the mother is doing it for her wellness.
It is morally correct to abort a fetus conceived as a result of rape. Forcing a woman with such pregnancies should be morally rebuked and never enforced by any law. These women are reminded of the rape day by day resulting in severe mental strain. Inadequate financial and social background is also a reason to abort. The is no need of giving birth when one is not sure of providing the baby with proper life perspective. Summer notes that many children are born under such circumstances ending up in a future of no value. He consequently argues that abortion in these situations is better (24).
Since a woman has a right to control her own body and the functions that support her life, she is morally permitted to abort even if the fetus is regarded as a person and has a right to life. We should not see a woman as a container for the fetus but as a person. We should give priority to her rights, needs, and choices. A woman’s decision to abort is the least bad of many wrong courses of action she is choosing. Denying her the election to reproduction is violating her civil rights. If we start forcing women with pregnancies, what would stop us from forcing them with contraceptives or sterilization? John Stuart Mill may not be pro-abortion but acknowledges the fact that someone’s liberty is more important and everyone should be left to decide what they do with their body. They may be justly or unjustly punished by opinion but should not be punished by law (Mills 147).
Abortion is morally admissible as long as the consequences are appealing and bring happiness to the mother and those who surround her. Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill’s moral theory, outlines a standard to judge whether an action is morally wrong or correct using Greatest Happiness Principle. It is based on consequentialism. “Utility, or Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure” (Mills 186). We free a mother from the mental and financial strain an unwanted baby brings consequently guaranteeing her happiness.
There are critics of abortion who give various reasons as to why they consider abortion to be morally wrong. Dan Marquis, one of these critics, concludes that it is seriously ethically unacceptable to abort since this act kills innocent human beings. If abortion is killing, why should he not call it murder? Marquis fails to convince everybody that abortion is murder of innocent lives. If it is correct abortion is comparable to murder, then shouldn’t this act be against the USA laws? Shouldn’t it attract severe penalties like several years of imprisonment or even death penalty? The fact that doctors who aid in abortion and women who terminate their pregnancies walk free all over the country means that Marquis is wrong to compare abortion to murder. Abortion can never be murder since a fetus is not a person. The notion that personhood begins at conception is merely a religious belief and not biologically proven to be true.
Marquis is right to acknowledge the moral wrongness of killing a newly born baby or a twelve-month-old toddler since this is infanticide. Infanticide is illegal in all the American states. It is equally wrong for Marquis to compare a two-month-old fetus to a baby since they are different in many aspects. A fetus is not a person since it is not conscious, viable, has no desires, cannot feel pain, and it is not alive. The fetus has no right to life as the society has decided that human beings acquire the right to life at birth. Therefore, an argument against abortion based on the analogy with infanticide does not convince me on the moral wrongness in abortion. A more plausible, or at least an equally credible, reason for the wrongness of abortion that does not imply that it is entirely wrong is aborting a third-trimester fetus. At this stage it is morally impermissible as this action has attained same moral status as infanticide.
Another argument against abortion is that we deny the killed fetus their future of value that is characterized with activities, projects, and experiences. Both Marquis and Kant support this case. These events are believed would add value or would be of value to the society. My question is, how sure are we that these lives would be of benefit? There are cases where rape victims have conceived babies. There are those mothers who conceive babies when extremely poor. Depending on their desperate situations, they choose to abort since they think the possibility of their fetus having a future of value is not good. Don’t critics realize that these mothers also have a future of value; a 'future like ours?'
Kant and Ronald Reagan’s Case Against Abortion view abortion as wrong because they believe in the sanctity of life and human life is sacred. At this point, they appeal to their religious beliefs in their judgments. This notion is wrong since not everyone is faithful and the same way people of faith have the right to have their religion protected is the same way non-believers have the right to be protected from religion.
The fact that I do not support the notion that abortion is morally wrong is not because I believe that the anti-abortion position is a symptom of irrational religious canon, neither do I advocate for abortion, but because I feel everybody should engross in a meaningful dialogue instead of throwing tantrums and name calling. Perhaps religiously oriented people are anti-abortion merely because they are religious. If they were not, maybe they would see nothing wrong with abortion. Atheists too, probably, are pro-abortion just because they are non-believers of religion hence find nothing obnoxious about abortion. It is reason and argument that can help to adjudicate such disputes. There is the need for us to participate in fora of discourse to harmonize our differences. One's religious beliefs should not inform any reasoning on abortion but only truth.
Mill, John Stuart. Utilitarianism. London: Parker, Son and Bourn, 1863.
Sumner, Leonard Wayne. Abortion and moral theory. Princeton University Press, 2014.
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