Whether or not having the choice to get an abortion is immoral is a very important question concerning the public debate about this controversial issue. From an objective perspective, the choice of getting an abortion is immoral, regardless of whether or not the women who carry out this choice are guilty or innocent. The first important factor that must be considered is that an abortion certainly results in the death of a living entity, i.e. the human embryo. The moral status of the human embryo that is killed is the foremost point in this debate. Moreover, plenty of evidence can be presented that signifies that the human embryo that is killed in an abortion is definitely a human being. Thus, based on evidence and the ethical significance of the death of a human embryo, the choice of getting an abortion is indeed immoral.
Those in favor of abortion often argue that even the sperm and ova possess the potential to develop into mature human beings, but they are not considered human. Indeed, the sperm and ova are not exactly human, but as mentioned, the embryo is a complete, distinct organism ("Are sperm and," 2013). The sperm and ova are simply genetically and functionally identifiable parts of a man and a woman. The sperm and ova themselves do not survive, even if fertilization occurs, rather their genetic material combines to form the new, distinct organism known as an embryo. Unlike the sex cells or any other cells in the body, the human embryo is not functionally a part of a larger organism; rather it already possesses the active disposition and internal resources essential for survival and development into a human being. Thus, a human embryo or fetus is indeed a human being, just at an immature stage of development and so, an abortion is immoral because it results in the death of a human being.
Based on the above scientific evidence, it should be obvious that a human embryo is a distinct organism and a whole human being, even during the earliest stage of development. From a philosophical point of view, it is agreeable that embryos are not as developed as newborn babies or toddlers, but this does not grant abortion any kind of moral significance. Those who defend the choice to get an abortion claim that the life of a human being is only valuable once they are become capable of being self-aware. This claim is actually an arbitrary claim rather than an argument. Moreover, even after making this claim, pro-choice advocates fail to appropriately address why such a development is necessary for human life to be worth something, and why only a cognitive or mental degree of development is decisive instead of other forms of development.
As far as moral significance is concerned, it can be pointed out there is no difference at all between the human embryo that a human being once was and the human adult he/she currently is. As developed in the book The Moral Question of Abortion, the acronym S(ize)L(evel of development)E(environment)D(egree of dependence) or “SLED” is a clear indication that these differences in terms of the value of human life (Schwarz, 1990). If size mattered, the life of larger or taller people would be more valuable. If level of development mattered, the life of teenagers would be more valuable than that of infants and toddlers, or even that of Alzheimer’s patients. If environment mattered, even changing position in bed or crossing the street would alter the value of a person’s life. If degree of dependency mattered, the life of conjoined twins or those dependent on insulin would not matter. Thus, these differences do not decrease the value of a human embryo or make it non-existent.
No doubt, American women currently have the choice to get an abortion and that choice is legal as a result of the Supreme Court decision made in the landmark Roe v. Wade case. However, the Supreme Court decision resulted in the violation standard legal reasoning, and therefore, needs to be overturned. The Supreme Court's verdict itself stated that the Court did not know when life begins, and yet a verdict was passed. It is quit outrageous that even though the Court had no clue about at what point does life exist in a woman’s womb, it still violated the legal principle of the benefit of doubt, which is always in the hands of the life-saver, which in this case was the American government, sworn to protect the lives of its citizens. It is even more disappointing and sad that physicians that once took an oath “not [to] give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion” (Carrick, 2001) are now carrying out abortions without any legal or moral implications.
Although pro-choice advocates use the argument that embryos are human beings but not persons in favor of abortion, but even they cannot draw the line as to when human beings become persons. In fact, it was based on this argument that human embryos no longer have the 14th Amendment protection under the American constitution. However, till date, no one has been able to draw a coherent line as to where personhood actually begins, and this has unknowingly opened the door for euthanasia and infanticide. Any logical argument for abortion in terms of personhood can also be used in favor of infanticide. Keeping the SLED argument in mind, the present criterions of personhood, such as a person is a culturally molded human being or that a person has some intelligence or mental capacity, can also be used as arguments to support euthanasia and infanticide. Even if it is believed that personhood begins with having a certain IQ (Fletcher, 1979), this would mean that human beings not having that much IQ are not persons.
In conclusion, the solid reasoning behind the immorality of the choice to get an abortion should be more than apparent. Regardless of the current legality of abortion, scientific evidence proves that the human embryo is indeed a human being, and even though the embryo is in the early stages of development, such differences do not matter, rather what really matters is that the embryo is ultimately bound to develop into a mature, grownup, human adult. Moreover, there is currently no way of drawing a coherent line when it arguing that a human embryo is not a person, and believing this argument indirectly also suggests belief that even infanticide is not immoral. Thus, regardless of whether a mother or a physician feels guilty or not about carrying out an abortion, the choice itself is definitely immoral.
Are sperm and egg cells alive?. (2013, Mar 29). Retrieved from http://www.abort73.com/abortion/are_sperm_and_egg_cells_alive/
Carrick, P. (2001). Medical ethics in the ancient world. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
Fletcher, J. (1979). Humanhood: Essays in biomedical ethics. Buffalo, N. Y.: Prometheus Books.
Irving, D. N. (n.d.). When do human beings begin? ‘scientific’ myths and scientific facts. Retrieved from http://www.all.org/abac/dni003.htm
Schwarz, S. D. (1990). Moral question of abortion. Chicago, Illinois: Loyola Press.