Comparison Of Contrasting Views On Abortion Philosophy Essay

[Synopsis: This is a 7 page essay, written in MLA format, discussing why abortion is immoral and why abortion is not immoral. The paper summarizes the views of two authors regarding abortion and gives a comprehensive critique of these views. The paper relies on two sources.]

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Why Abortion is Immoral

Abortion involves the loss of fetus and consequently loss of a future human being. It can only be justified in circumstances where the life of the mother is in danger and the consequences of failing to abort are great (Marquis 194).

Marquis identifies two accounts that make killing wrong, namely, the discontinuation account whereby killing automatically terminates life and discontinues the experience of living to the victim, and the desire account, whereby killing interferes with the fulfillment of strong fundamental desire necessary for any other desire to be fulfilled (195). This is compounded by the fact that it is morally wrong to kill people who have little or no desire to live. It is equally wrong to kill the unconscious, the sleeping, those who are tired of living and even those who are suicidal. A fetus lacks desire to live and this makes abortion to be wrong (Marquis 195). People desire to live because they value what life has to offer. Furthermore the goodness of life is not secondary to people’s desire for it because it were so; the pain of premature death would be easily replaced with appropriate desire (Marquis 196).

Despite the fact that fetuses are not in a position to value their future and their future may not be valuable to them, It is important to note that the future of a fetus is valuable to other people (Marquis 198).

Support of abortion on the basis that an entity cannot possess the right to life unless it has the desire for its continued existence can easily be disapproved by the fact that failure of an individual to have interest in something does not mean that the individual does not have a right to it (Marquis199). Similarly, Bansen’s argument that a fetus lacks sentience, it cannot be wronged and cannot be a victim even if aborted is equally disapproved by the fact that fetuses have prospects and can be victims when aborted because they are deprived of their future and their prospects (Marquis 200).

In view of issues discussed in this essay, it is evidently clear that abortion is not any different from killing, a practice that deprives the victim of a future-like ours. Fetuses possess a future and property that makes killing of adult human beings wrong, it follows without saying that abortion is ethically wrong (Marquis 201). Use of contraceptives cannot be equated to abortion because they only prevent fertilization and conception from taking place but this does not result to any form of killing (Marquis 201).

Why Most Abortions Are Not Wrong

Some people feel that decision to procure an abortion lies squarely on the pregnant woman because she is the one bearing the burden of unwanted pregnancy, while other people prefer keeping abortion safe and legal because of dangers associated with illegal abortion and inequalities associated with the poor and the minority women who are unable to control their fertility (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 471).

Steinbock, Arras and Alex argue that abortion is not wrong because of the moral status of the embryo and the burdens resulting from pregnancy and childbirth on women (471). It is okay to kill a non- conscious fetus if a woman does not want to keep the pregnancy because killing a fetus does not deprive it of a future like ours. This is based on the simple scientific fact that a fetus is non- conscious and consentient hence it does not have a future like ours (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 472).

A fetus cannot be equated to a new born baby because even though the fetus is alive and human, it is practically not aware of anything and it is not any different from a sperm and ovum which are also alive and human. Furthermore, a fetus cannot think, feel or even perceive anything as opposed to a new born baby. This makes Killing of fetuses to be morally different from killing babies because they do not have the ability to experience pain and pleasure. They are consentient; just like trees and they lack interest of their own hence it is impossible to consider their interests (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 472).

Steinbock, Arras and Alex highlight that nonscentient beings cannot experience pain and suffering because it does not matter to them what they experience or what is done to them. Since fetuses are nonscentient, it follows that they do not have the ability to experience pain and pleasure. This is simply because their nervous system has not yet developed to transmit pain messages to the brain hence fetuses cannot be said to experience pain during abortion (473).

Although fetuses are living, they do not have a life because they are nonsentient, they are equivalent to living cells in human beings which die or are simply killed. Such cells are not said to lose their live or to be deprived of their lives. Killing a fetus before it becomes conscious and aware does not deprive it of anything (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 473).

The fact that fetuses are potential human beings does not qualify them to be treated as actual human beings. In any case living human beings are potentially dead but there is no reason to treat them like corpses (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 474). If fetuses; the potential human beings should be treated like real human beings, then the potential personhood attached to fertilized ova should also be attached to unfertilized eggs and sperms as potential human beings. Furthermore every player is also a potential winner and as such unfertilized eggs and sperms are also potential human beings and their potential should not be negated (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 474).

Since neither the sperm nor the egg has a future of its own before fertilization, it follows that even the embryo does not have a future without the uterus and cannot develop all by itself without the uterus and adequate nutrients from the pregnant woman (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 477). A pregnant mother serves as a life support system to sustain the life of a fetus; hence the morality of abortion not only depends on the fetus but also on woman’s moral obligation to sustain the life of the fetus without terminating pregnancy (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 478).

Pregnancies are associated with various burdens including labor, delivery and sometimes death. Outside the abortion context, there is no situation in which someone should undergo risks and burdens to preserve another person’s life. Clearly, restrictive laws of abortion impose burdens on pregnant mothers that are not imposed on other people in comparable situations thus violating the principle of equal protection. (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 478).

A woman should not be forced to undertake significant risks and burdens of keeping the fetus alive. After all such a woman would have to carry a bugger burden of raising a child against her wishes or even giving it up for adoption (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 479).

It is morally right to terminate pregnancy for sex selection or for fetal reductions, especially where a woman has 3 or more fetuses because chances of them surviving are minimal if some are not killed. It is also risky to mother’s health (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 481).

Women have a amoral right to decide either to carry the burdens of pregnancy and childbirth or to abort. It would be much fair to put women to task on justifying their decision to have children instead of justifying their decision to procure abortion (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 482).