Abortion is the process of removing the fetus inside the womb of the mother. There are two types of abortion, namely: spontaneous abortion and induced abortion. The former is described as the expulsion of the fetus from the womb of the mother due to fetal abnormalities (primarily chromosomal problems, malformation of the fetus, etc). The latter refers to the type of abortion wherein the fetus is removed from the womb of the mother for either health reasons or unwillingness to continue the pregnancy. (Baird)
Induced abortion is furthered classified into two types: therapeutic abortion and elective abortion. Therapeutic abortion is said to be performed in order to save the mother’s life (cases wherein continuation of the pregnancy would result to health risks for the mother). On the other hand, elective abortion is the type of abortion that is performed due to other reasons other than that which can endanger the life of the mother.
Between the two types of abortion, spontaneous and induced abortion, the latter has been the target of criticisms for those who are pro-life. Induced abortion has been accused as an immoral act primarily because it entails termination of life. Yet, another moral problem that is being raised in the issue of abortion is the very definition of human life: what it is to say that a fetus is already human life? Two assumptions are given. The first one states that the fetus is already a human life upon conception. The second one presupposes that the fetus can be considered as a human life only after conception. Seemingly, the basic argument that can be deduced from these descriptions is the right to life of the fetus (if ever it has already a right to life). Seemingly, abortion is commonly referred as the induced abortion. However, spontaneous abortion, or most commonly known as miscarriage, is also referred as a form of abortion in medical texts.(Baird)
Position: Pro-life (Against Abortion)
Personally, I believe that human life starts upon the conception. It is the period wherein the sperm cell and the egg cell have successfully united in the process of fertilization. During this phase of fetal development, life has already bestowed on the fetus. Hence, fetus has already a right to life. With this, I claimed that abortion is morally impermissible because it infringes the fetus’ right to life.
Critique on Abortion: Arguments against abortion
Christian Ethics: According to the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses, one must not kill. Life is considered as divine and sacred for the Christians. Furthermore, the Old Testament states that an ‘unborn baby’ is still made in the image of God thus it is considered a human life. Any operations done against it would be considered immoral. No person has the right to take away a human life for God is the only one who can do such. Having these premises, abortion is morally wrong.(Geisler)
Kantian Ethics: An action is regarded as morally right if it upholds one duty or obligation. In relation to abortion, the mother has a duty to her child. Letting the termination of her child means that she neglected her duty as a mother to her child. Moreover, medical practitioners had sworn, by virtue of the Hippocratic Oath, that their primary duty is to preserve human life (either by curing or treating a human person). Thus performing abortion is an act against their duty as physicians. By virtue of Deontological Ethics, abortion is morally wrong (Wood)
Aristotelian Ethics: An action is morally right if it is the most possible action that a virtuous person would do in a particular situation. The basic premise of this ethical principle lies on the consideration of the moral agent’s character. In connection with the case of abortion, it is undeniable that performing abortion is never a virtuous act. Given that the fetus has already a right to life, it is not morally right to terminate its life without its permission (having a right to life entails right to decide), by virtue of being just. It is never just to under-prioritize one’s welfare just to save oneself. Thus, abortion, in the light of Aristotelian ethics, is morally wrong.(Davis)
In defense of Abortion
Utilitarianism: For the utilitarians, an action is right if it promotes the greatest good or greatest happiness for the greatest number. Also, an action is considered right if it produces greatest utility for the greatest number of people. Abortion can be considered morally permissible because it prevent the mother from suffering (health complications due to pregnancy). Also, abortion can be seen, by appealing to the utilitarian principle, as morally right because it benefits women who have unwanted pregnancy. If they were forced to continue the pregnancy, they might live hating their own child because of what happened to them (rape victims). For this instance, abortion is right.(Quinton)
Eugenics: Eugenics is deals with the study of techniques and process that could improve mankind through a reduction on man’s population. Overpopulation is considered by those who study eugenics as one of the main factors that impede mankind from the improvement of the quality of their living. It suggests that human reproduction should be controlled so as to manage the needs of mankind sufficiently. Truly, overpopulation results to unbalanced distribution of food, labor, opportunities and other benefits. Competition is most likely the mechanism used by the people in order for them to survive (survival of the fittest). With this, abortion can help the world minimize and even eliminate crises that the world and mankind are facing. Therefore, abortion is morally right and permissible.(Franks)
References and Works Cited:
Baird, Robert M. The Ethics of Abortion : Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Choice (Contemporary Issues) Ed. Stuart E. Rosenbaum. 3rd ed: Prometheus Books, 2001.
Davis, Grady Scott. Warcraft and the Fragility of Virtue: An Essay in Aristotelian Ethics 1992.
Franks, Angela. Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy: The Control of Female Fertility McFarland ; Company 2005.
Geisler, Norman L. Christian Ethics: Options and Issues Baker Academic 1989.
Quinton, Anthony. Utilitarian Ethics. National Right to Life News. 2nd ed. Vol. 26: Duckworth Publishing, 2003
Wood, Allen. Kantian Ethics 1st ed: Cambridge University Press, 2007.