Most Abortions Are Moral

Most Abortions Are Moral?

Are abortions moral? This question has been stirring up debate between those who favor abortion (liberals / Pro-Choice) and those against it (conservatives / Pro-Life). Liberals believe that the woman should not only be able to choose matters that concern her body, but that a fetus is not a person. The conservatives argue that the fetus is a person from conception. However, when it comes down to legality, the Constitution states that a woman is able to make the choice for herself without government intervention on the basis of the right of privacy.

In Jane English’s article she shows that there are exceptions to every rule concerning why and when abortion is moral or immoral. For example, conservatives say abortion is immoral because it kills potential life but there are justifiable killings. Liberals think since a fetus is not a person it is a justifiable act to kill it. But during the final stages of pregnancy the fetus closely resembles a person.

What if a fetus is a person? Conservatives will consider abortion to be infanticide. If Judith Jarvis Thompson is able to prove that killing is always wrong, she can conclude whether or not abortion is immoral. However, there are justifiable killings. She uses self-defense as an example along with some scenarios. The defense may only equal the threatened injury in severity and should only be the minimum necessary to deter the attacker. Therefore, if the birth of a child poses threat to the mother, abortion may be considered as self-defense. A second scenario says to avoid an attack all together, suggesting to practice abstinence. A third scenario says use protection against the attacker, implying to use birth control. A fourth scenario says you may kill the attacker only if there is certainty he will kill you. Therefore, abortion is “acceptable” if it will save the woman’s life.

What if a fetus is not a person? Since a fetus is considered not to be a full-fledged person, conservatives fear liberals will treat the fetus any way desired hence the debate on abortion. However, when comparing a fetus to an animal, for example, the mistreatment of an animal can result to harsh punishment. Because animals don’t have the same rights as people do, that doesn’t suggest we tolerate the abuse.

When is a fetus actually considered a person? Mary Anne Warner says in order to be labeled a “person” he/she should have the capacities for reasoning, self-awareness, and complex communication skills. Baruch Brody argues brain waves, Paul Ramsey claims a certain gene structure, and Michael Tooley suggests having the concept-of-self distinguishes a fetus from a person. Biological, psychological, rationality, social, and legal factors are also considered to make a distinction between a fetus and a person.

When does a fetus go from a non-person to a person? A fetus’ similarities to a newborn is quite significant during the ending weeks of pregnancy, thus any careless treatment would be immoral. In the early weeks of pregnancy, right after conception, a fetus does not resemble a person enough for abortion to be considered infanticide or immoral.

In conclusion, English says “whether a fetus is a person or not, abortion is justifiable early in pregnancy to avoid modest harms and seldom justifiable late in pregnancy except to avoid significant injury or death” (449 C/D).

Upon reading this article, I was never completely certain about how I felt about abortion. After analyzing English’s views, alongside Thompson, Warner, Brody, Tooley, and Ramsey, I was easily able to come to my own conclusion.

Because I never knew the facts and technicalities of abortion, I was always hesitant to have a distinctive “yes” or “no” answer to whether abortion is immoral. In addition, I was lazy enough to ignore that this was ever even an issue. But somehow I hastily just “decided” that abortion was wrong. Before I read English’s article I read the following statistics that further implemented my decision that abortion is, indeed, immoral:

In Brazil, forty thousand women die each year because of blotched abortions. (449 D)

The United States have three times as many abortions per group as does England, Sweden, or the Netherlands.

Forty-two percent of pregnant women have an abortion in the United States. The average Russian woman has seven abortions during her lifetime. (450 A)

The structure of English’s article was designed well enough for me to focus on the important points of the topic. Agreeing with English that this will forever be an unsettled issue, important details and suggestions were addressed that made the decision that more difficult.

For instance, I never considered the fact that there are justifiable killings. I never even considered the feelings of the lives involved. My sole focus was that not only having a child was a blessing, but the pregnancy was as well. I ignorantly overlooked that all women don’t want to have children, and that the process could potentially be harmful or life threatening to the woman. Therefore, abortion was looking “less immoral.” After reading the self-defense comparisons, however, I was even more confused. If the woman did not want to have a child, she should have used birth control. Practicing abstinence was a good alternative for her as well.

The turning point came when biological factors were addressed. With that, I was finally able to make a decision wisely. Discussed were the stages during pregnancy and the condition of the fetus during each stage. I knew that a fetus least resembled a person during the early weeks of pregnancy apposed to the ending weeks, but that obvious knowledge slipped my mind completely. Once supporting the conservative side without any sensible understanding or reasoning, I can proudly say I have done some research and made a decision. I am neither a liberal nor conservative. Agreeing with English, there are appropriate times and reasons to abort and to not. Abortion is permissible during the early weeks of pregnancy if it is in the best interest of the woman or people around her. During the middle stages of pregnancy, abortion is only permissible when the continuing pregnancy or labor will cause threat to the woman’s well being. During the final stages of pregnancy abortion is immoral unless to save the woman from severe injury or death.

“A newly fertilized ovum, a newly implanted clump of cells, is no more a person than an acorn is an oak tree…opponents of abortion commonly spend most of their time establishing that the fetus is a person, and hardly any time explaining the step from there to the impermissibility of abortion.”Jane English (450 D/E)



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