Utilitarianism is the notion that the moral worth of a given action is a determined by its general usefulness in ensuring that utility is maximized. Therefore, this theory asserts that a given action is right if in a given situation, it leads to a greater satisfaction of desires, taking into account all the affected individuals and the available alternatives. Application and relation of this theory with the widely discussed subject of abortion is possible. The subject of abortion has been widely discussed over the past years in various countries all over the world. It is a subject that continues to be controversial and brings about various differences on the concerned individuals. Abortion has been supported and consequently been criticized by many. All these stands have been reached with the support of various notions and beliefs of the concerned individuals.
For utilitarianism, the naming of the game is that all actions will produce maximum pleasure, the wrongs and rights of abortion will be decided by these types of consequence as they tend to vary from one abortion to the next (Stewart 2008, p 97). It is vital to note that whether the concerned fetus becomes a person at some point in time in the pregnancy is of little significance in itself. This is because the persons involved are expendable in the pursuit of maximum utility, which is the core aim of the whole concept of utilitarianism. The theory of utilitarianism asserts that pleasure is the only good in itself, so generally, what is of importance is the sentience that is possessed by the fetus at different developmental stages, and how this tends to balance against that of the concerned mother and any other individuals affected by the decision.
The available alternatives in a situation that one mother wants to abort a child are minimal, for instance, keeping the pregnancy and having the baby. Let’s take a situation where a fetus is severely handicapped and defective. The calculations of pleasure and pain, while clearly including the subject mother and consequently too, her family, would center more on what is in store for the unborn child. However, each case in question would again differ, depending on the level or severity of the disablement, the involved mother’s mental condition, and the doctors’ prognosis. Often, the more severe the fetal defect, the more likely is the process of utilitarian to recommend the process of abortion as a moral obligation (Steward 2008, p 98). This is because the life of the baby in future is bound to be difficult. Therefore if all the fetus in question has to look forward to in their future life is a life that is nasty, brutal and even in some instances short, then cutting its losses with the process of an early abortion is deemed right. Further involving the mental state and condition of the mothers mind, where the more severe they are, the stronger the case for abortion. It is important to note that in all the cases, the calculation must be based on whether the overall happiness of the mother, the fetus, and all the concerned individuals will be increased or decreased by the process of abortion, and then the final decision is consequently made accordingly.
Divine command theory is the view about the meanings of ethical actions, which claims that the ethical sentences express propositions, some of which are true, about various Godly attitudes. The theory asserts that God is not subject to any law outside himself. Therefore, if a given act or behavior is wrong, it is so only because God has outrightly forbidden it. Hence, is a moral duty, that the concerned individual to oblige to it only because God has commanded it. Hence if there was no God, then the theory asserts that there would be no such thing as moral right or wrong. It is mainly because of this extreme reason that some individuals who believe so much in this theory have carried out heinous acts to the ones against it. In the Unites States, the strict followers of this theory have killed physicians who have performed abortions (Geirsson & Holmgren, 1999, p 33). According to this theory, if God changed and thought that lying is good, then this would be the final say, regardless of the fact that it is forbidden by God, to lie as of now (Reynolds 2009, p 94).
Application of this theory in relation to the aspect of abortion and whether to justify the action is possible. However, unlike utilitarianism, because of its stance on the absolute value and sacredness of human life, this theory would never condone or support abortion on whimsical or flimsy grounds (Steward 2009, p 103). This is a real strength, based on the fact that it squares with numerous individuals’ intuitions in relation to the dignity of human life and consequently the seriousness of any decision to abort. The theory takes fetal life too seriously for the mother’s and the fetus’ life. The rights of the concerned mother come second to those of the fetus. Further, the interests of the damaged and deformed fetuses are not sufficiently taken into account. Undergoing an abortion labels the concerned mother a sinner. This is also in line with the fact that there is a commandment that is against any human being killing another. Therefore, the mother here is labeled a murderer also.
Comparing this theory in decision making regarding the process of abortion, one would be forced to go with the former. The command divine theory is not wholly factual. This theory undermines the basic visible reality at the expense of the unseen and superstitious beliefs of individuals. This theory in real sense bans the process of abortion without any consideration. This action is bound to negatively impact on the general life settings. For instance, there is a likelihood that this ban will lead to terrible hardships, sufferings and unwanted babies in the society. The theory wrongly labels the fetus a living soul that has been created by God. There is no evidence for the belief that the just fertilized egg has a soul. It is a mere allegation and belief.
Considering the real scenario of the abortion case, it is important that the whole concept be based on factual theories. The utilitarianism theory seems to have an upper hand in relation to this argument. The fact that it considers the real facts and most importantly the seen and experienced consequences makes it the better theory. This theory also considers the fact and importance of addressing the present problem, and not wholly at the negative expense of the future. Therefore, abortion should not be wholly scrapped but carefully considered in certain situations.
Holmgren, M.R. (1999). Ethical Theory. Ontario: Broadview Press Ltd.
Reynolds, J.M. (2002). When Athens met Jerusalem. Springfield, IL: IVP Academic Publishers.
Stewart, N. (1998). An Introduction to Moral Philosophy. London: Polity Publishers.