Pro-Abortion Essay

Submitted By elkdoghencat
Words: 2616
Pages: 11

Abortion, defined as the deliberate and voluntary act of terminating a pregnancy by means of removing a foetus from a woman’s uterus, provides many ethical concerns as to whether it may be characterised as morally permissible or impermissible. For this argument, I will support two contentions to suggest that abortion is ethically acceptable; first, that foetuses are not persons and therefore are not morally considerable, and second, that regardless of the moral considerations given to the foetus, there are circumstances that may override its right to life due to the foetus’s violation of the rights of the mother.

As a foetus may be classified as a human in terms of biology, that is, a part of the species Homo sapiens, it may seem Prima facie obligatory to ensure its right to survival. However, it may be argued that it is not classified as a person and one does not achieve this status until birthed. It is not until this stage that a being may accept most of the conditions of personhood as put forth by Mary Anne Warren (2007, p. 372). Warren suggests a criterion of five mental conditions to determine personhood: the ability of reason, communicational skills, self-motivation, consciousness, and the occurrence of self-awareness. As a foetus possesses none of these abilities, technically, by accepting these terms, it cannot be considered as a person with a right to life, and therefore is not morally permissible. From this, the conclusion may be drawn that only a person, who possesses all five of Warren’s properties, has a serious right to life. As a foetus does not possess this right to life, abortion cannot be seen as morally impermissible under any circumstances.

Upon contemplating Warren’s personhood criteria, John T. Noonan (1994, p. 279) argues that there are complications in using measures like these, because the conditions may have varying levels of satisfaction. As such, newborns are hardly more person-like than a foetus in its later stages. Equally, this may be applicable to a premature birthing. A baby birthed one month early, would considerably be as person-like as an eight-month old foetus. If this is the case, and abortion is seen to be morally permissible, then it may also be argued that infanticide is morally permissible. This is based on the similar grounds that a newborn has still not yet developed personhood. However Warren provides a reasoning to suggest otherwise, and that infanticide is ethically wrong. She describes that the birth of a child signifies the end of the mothers right to decide its fate, and so long as a person values the newborn, it must be seen as morally impressible to end its life if there are persons with a desire to care for it (Warren, as cited by Card, 2000, p. 342). This is because the intentional death of the newborn may deprive the persons of this desire to care for it, and thereby deprive the persons of their rights. At this point, we may determine that, as addressed by Fred Feldman (as cited by Denis, 2007, p. 551), only beings accomplished in self-consciousness are capable of having a want to live or continue living. Professor Bernard Gert suggests that merely being alive has no fundamental worth in itself, but rather retaining the ability to have a sentient experience is what provides life with value (Gert, as cited by Triplett, 2011, p. 300). As, unlike conscious persons, a foetus has never possessed the desire to live or continue living, the death of a foetus cannot be considered morally wrong, and therefore abortion must be viewed as ethically permissible in all situations.

Now that infanticide has been addressed and we have viewed the arguments for its impermissibility, this can then be used to further our argument that a foetus is not a person and a newborn is, through considering viability. I would like to define viability as being concerned with the ability to live and survive outside the mother’s womb and achieve individual growth and development. The argument