Abortion entails ending of a pregnancy. It is done through the expulsion or removal an embryo or fetus from the uterus. It can take place naturally or it can be deliberately induced. At times, it is by the reason of the fetus’ natural death that abortion occurs. However, the word abortion generally pertains to the induced method (Hinman, 2013). Some groups of people perceive such method as immoral, while others believe otherwise. The rate of its recurrence, related legal, religious and cultural issues are different for any place; that is why, it is a very controversial topic. There are two prestigious groups of people or school of thoughts that discuss the subject, and these are the pro-life and the pro-choice groups. The pro-life groups support the superior part of abortion’s legal limitations or the absolute ruling out of abortion. Their arguments include: that the fetus is a human being that possesses the privilege for nurture and the right to live. This school of thought believes that abortion is a crime – a murder. On the other hand, the pro-choice groups argue that pregnant women have unlimited reproductive privileges or rights; one of these privileges and rights is the right to choose whether continue the pregnancy or terminate it through the abortion process (Hinman, 2013). The public discussion usually concerns the problem of induced abortion as being unlawful at the majority of its occurrences. This problem is to be set aside in this paper for us to center our attention to the underlying question: Do you believe it is morally acceptable for a person to get an abortion?
Abortion, through an objective perception, is an immoral act since it results to the death of a person. It is the act of killing that made it immoral and not any other reason behind it.
Is a Fetus a Person or Not?
A human embryo is a human being. They are still immature but nonetheless an absolute human being. Once conception is happens, pregnancy begins. It is the moment the female egg cell unites with the sperm cell which produces a zygote. It is a stage in human growth that all humans have passed. A zygote satisfies the criteria of life which are growth, reproduction, metabolism and response to stimuli – zygote is , therefore, a person. As quoted from Geisler (1989) “ To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. The human nature being from conception to old age is not metaphysical contention, it is plain experimental evidence” (p. 149). Thus, there is no notion that human life starts at conception that is being developed in a unique manner per individual.
Though still unborn, with the start of the second month, the fetus becomes manifestly human. Eyes, nose, ears and toes appear, skeleton grows, blood flows and heart beats. Brain waves can be perceived. The mother may still be unaware that she is pregnant and there are a large number of abortions made during this stage (Beckwith, 1993). In Noonan (1997) article, he inferred that the fetus has the capability to sense pain during the latter part of the 2nd month of the pregnancy. There are images of fetuses’ faces that are aborted has pained expressions. He concluded that the methods of abortion inflicts pain in accordance with the facts of nerve and brain development, expression of pain on fetus’ faces and the undeniable fact that fetus have the ability to feel. He added that however the abortion is done, the unborn goes through the death suffering and experiences the utmost of physical tribulations, the conclusion of their own lives. Moreover, these conscious fetuses are suffering disintegration of their form and termination of their essential abilities however incoherent and slim their cognitive control is.
The question of fetus being a person is in question because there are some people that do not consider them as one due to their lack of perception or feelings, although they may however slim they may feel. If being a person is commendable of complete moral respect for the reason of the existence of such traits and not in high merit of what type of individual they are, these may mean that because these traits are undergoing spontaneous degrees, there would be no reason for human beings to have fundamental rights at any point in time.
Although the case about the zygote being a person or not is still being questioned, one thing for sure is clear, all life forms begin at the fertilization stage. No matter how the anti-abortion distinctly differentiates it to a person with no rights, anyone also have no right to deny that there is a life being formed in any pregnancy.
Abortion Is Not Intentional Killing
The pro-choice groups argue that abortion is a non-intentional act to justify it. They have argued that the unborn being inside the mother’s womb has the right to life while adding the argument of questioning the right of that entity for the moral entitlement to use the body of the mother. With this argument, abortion becomes a non-intentional killing but rather an option of denying the child assistance and thus eliminating the fetus even it will cost death (George & Lee, 2013).
Some of the analogies of this argument include that supporting the child is like the donating or using organs such as kidneys. And no person is morally obligated to donate or use his or her organ for another person’s survival even if it means the death of that other person. In short, a woman is not morally obligated to have the unborn baby use her body. This can be termed as “the bodily rights argument” (George & Lee, 2013, p.20).
Of course, a woman has an exceptional accountability to her child but denying support for the child to which is being compared as abortion cannot be called as responsibility at all. In response to this argument, Thomson (1971) stated that a person can only have a great responsibility for another person if that person willingly supposed such accountability otherwise the bodily right case for the mother holds.
It is no wonder that the mother do some acts that resulted to pregnancy which she is very aware of but that case is different from supporting the child once it is conceived. Thus, this standpoint tells us that only when the mother or any parent consent to pregnancy or to support, only then the responsibility accumulates to the parent (Thomson, 1971).
In opposition to this argument, there are a few points that we wish to mention. First, we do not deny that abortion is not really a premeditated killing in some instances; however, it still results to the death of the unborn. In many instances, the objective of abortion is to kill the fetus to avoid parenthood. If abortion is put in such a way that a woman just wants to end her condition whatever reasons she may have, still the side effect would result to the death of the fetus.
Nonetheless, not intentionally killing the being inside the womb but rather just denying it from a life support is very deceptive and misleading. It is clear that abortion is a dynamic act of eliminating the unborn from the womb. There exists a definite difference between “denying things to help someone” and “doing things that cause to harm someone” albeit the fact that that harm is unintentional but expected consequence (Ronald, 1993).
Justifying the above mentioned circumstances is difficult. But it is harder to excuse the act of doing things that causes to harm someone. There are cases of course that the death of others is morally permissible. These include instances to stop probable deadly assault on people though that would mean the death of the assailant. In cases where mother’s life is at risk in bearing the child, then it is morally permissible to remove the child even if it results to the death of the unborn.
Yet, one must take note that these circumstances have the mother in a near death situation. These may be called unintentional abortion. The unique parents’ responsibility to their children means that they abstain from doing some things that may cause danger to their off springs. Being biological parents requires great responsibility and these matters are being denied if one accepts the “bodily right” argument. When you believe that only when a person voluntarily accepts the responsibility of a parent is he or she responsible for the child, then it would also mean that a child can only care for his or her parent if that parent choose to support him or her (Little, 1999). This argument tells us that people have the right to create life as we choose it and relationships are made only through our consent. But this argument is in contradiction to our nature. There is an innate connection between parents and child and we have extraordinary accountability to our loved ones, then it means we have duty to our offspring’s even before we consent to such connection. Moreover, bearing the child is far less harmful and essential than having the baby to suffer death (George & Lee, 2013).
Beckwith, F. J. (1993). Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights: Is the Unborn Human Less Than Human? CRI: Baker Book House.
Dworkin, R. (1993). Life’s Dominion: An Argument about Abortion, Euthanasia, and Individual Freedom. New York: Random House.
Geisler, N. L. (1989). Christian Ethics: Options and Issues. Grand Rapids: Baker Press.
Hinman, L. M. (2013). Abortion: An Overview of the Ethical Issues. San Diego: San Diego University Press.
Little, M. O. (1999). Abortion, intimacy, and the duty to gestate. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 2, 295–312.
Lee, P. & Robert P. George. (2005). The Wrong of Abortion. NY: Blackwell Publishers.
Noonan, J. T. (1997). An Almost Absolute Value in History, in the Morality of Abortion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Shah, I. & Ahman, E. (2009). Unsafe abortion: global and regional incidence, trends, consequences, and challenges. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 31 (12), 1149–58.
Thomson, J. J. (1971). A Defense of Abortion. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 1(1), 47-66.