Morality of abortion

Introduction; Morality of abortion. Abortion is a complex and highly debated ethical issue that has been a topic of discussion for centuries. The morality of abortion is a subject of profound concern, as it involves questions about the rights and interests of both the pregnant individual and the developing fetus. In ethics, there are both pro and con arguments for abortion.

The main view of those who oppose abortion is that it is the killing of an innocent human being. They believe that the fetus has the right to life, and thus, abortion is murder. The main argument of those who are in favor of abortion is that a woman should have a choice about what she does with her body. They argue that a fetus is not human until it is born, so abortion is not murder.

In this article, we will explore the various moral perspectives on abortion, examining the key arguments for and against it. We will consider ethical theories such as utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics to shed light on this contentious issue. Let’ ‘s read more about Morality of abortion.

Morality of abortion
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Arguments for abortion

A woman should have a choice about what she does with her body. Those who are pro-choice believe that a woman should have the right to decide what she does with her body. They argue that the fetus, at least at the beginning of pregnancy, is nothing more than another organ of the mother. Therefore, they believe that the woman should decide to abort the pregnancy or not.

On the other hand, if we believe that human life begins at conception, then abortion can be seen as the unlawful killing of a human being. Foes of abortion argue that a fetus is a human being with a right to live.

We also have to consider that the mother has a life of her own and perhaps consider the welfare of other firstborn children. An unwanted pregnancy can cause a mother to be unable to complete her education, for example, or get a job, potentially pushing the entire family into poverty.

It is also the case that while lawful abortions are very safe, criminal abortions are not and symbolize a significant health risk to the mom. 

According to the BBC study (with 2019 data from the CDC):

  • About 60% of those seeking abortions were in their 20s.
  • 60% had at least one child;
  • About half had a miscarriage in the first six weeks of pregnancy. And
  • For 60%, it was the first miscarriage.

So, it is not true that abortion will primarily benefit irresponsible teenagers who do not know how to prevent pregnancy. Only 9% of all abortions in the US are to teenagers, and the majority of clients seeking abortions already have at least one child.

The Sanctity of Life

One of the central arguments against abortion is rooted in the belief in the sanctity of life. This perspective, often associated with religious or pro-life ideologies, posits that life begins at conception, and therefore, any deliberate termination of pregnancy is morally wrong.

According to this viewpoint, the fetus possesses an inherent right to life that should be protected, even at the expense of the pregnant person’s autonomy.

Bodily Autonomy

On the other side of the debate is the principle of bodily autonomy. Proponents of this view argue that a pregnant person has the absolute right to make decisions about their own body, including whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy.

This perspective highlights the importance of individual freedom and self-determination, asserting that no one should be compelled to bring a pregnancy to term against their will.

Utilitarian Considerations

Utilitarianism, an ethical theory that desires to maximize overall happiness, offers another angle on the morality of abortion. From a practical standpoint, the moral permissibility of abortion depends on its consequences.

If continuing a pregnancy would lead to significant harm or suffering for the pregnant individual, while abortion would result in a better overall outcome, then abortion may be considered morally justifiable under utilitarian principles.

Utilitarianism is the belief that the best course of action is that which maximizes utility or happiness. In other words, utilitarianism is about achieving the greatest good for the most significant number of people. When applied to the question of abortion, utilitarianism would say that in some circumstances, it is better not to have a child. 

This is because if the child is born into a family that is too poor to deliver for it, or it is born in a war zone, or the parents are sick or unable to raise the kid, then the child’s life will probably be full of grief.

 Deontological Ethics

Deontological ethics, which emphasizes the importance of moral duties and principles, can be used to support both pro-choice and pro-life positions. Proponents of abortion rights argue that respecting a person’s autonomy is a moral duty.

Therefore, it is morally impermissible to restrict access to abortion. Conversely, those who believe in the sanctity of life argue that protecting the rights of the fetus is a moral duty that takes precedence over considerations of bodily autonomy.

Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics concentrates on the development of virtuous character traits and moral values. From a virtue ethics perspective, the morality of abortion depends on whether the decision is made with honorable intentions and in accordance with virtuous traits.

This approach encourages individuals to remember their values, empathy, and compassion when making choices regarding abortion.

The Role of Viability

The concept of fetal viability plays a significant role in the abortion debate. Viability refers to the moment at which a fetus can potentially persist outside the womb with medical assistance.

Some argue that the moral permissibility of abortion should be tied to fetal viability. For example, they suggest that abortion should be legally permitted before viability but restricted afterward, as the fetus then has a greater chance of surviving and developing into a person.

Time-Based Perspectives

In Morality of abortion, Another dimension of the abortion debate centers on the timing of the abortion. Different moral perspectives arise based on when the abortion takes place during pregnancy.

For instance, some argue that early-term abortions (performed in the first trimester) are more morally acceptable because the fetus is less developed. In contrast, others contend that late-term abortions should be allowed in cases of severe fetal abnormalities or risks to the pregnant person’s health.

 The Influence of Law

The legal status of abortion differs widely around the world, reflecting the diversity of moral viewpoints on the subject. In some countries, abortion is heavily restricted or even illegal, while in others, it is legally protected as a reproductive right.

The relationship between morality and law in the context of abortion raises complex questions about whether legal restrictions on abortion align with prevailing moral beliefs.

 Ethical Dilemmas

The abortion debate often presents individuals with ethical dilemmas. For example, consider a situation in which a pregnant person’s life is at risk due to a complication, but continuing the pregnancy will likely result in the death of the fetus.

This scenario raises challenging moral questions about whose life should be prioritized and whether abortion can be justified to save the life of the pregnant person.

 Cultural and Religious Influences

Cultural and religious beliefs play an important role in shaping individual and societal perspectives on abortion. For instance, some religious traditions consider abortion a sin, while others allow for greater flexibility in interpreting the moral permissibility of abortion.

Understanding the diversity of cultural and religious viewpoints is essential in appreciating the complexity of the abortion debate.

Is a fetus a person? Is abortion killing?

The definition of a person is essential in the abortion debate:

  • If we describe a person as someone who has some mental capacity, then a fetus is not a person.
  • If we define a person as an individual with certain biological traits, then a fetus may be a person.
  • If we define a person as someone conscious and aware, then abortion does not kill a person.
  • If we define a person as a biological person who is alive, then abortion is taking a person’s life.

There is no right answer to these queries; they depend on how we define things, and these definitions rely on many factors: our religious beliefs, our society’s views on life, death, and bodily autonomy. Other laws of, and the value we hold in particular functional capabilities as markers of personhood.

If we define a person as a human being with fully developed mental functions. In that case, a fetus is not a person until it reaches the point of viability, which is usually around 24 weeks. Thus, abortion before the 24th week is not murder because the victim must be a person for murder.

Conclusion: Morality of abortion

The morality of abortion is a multifaceted and deeply divisive issue that encompasses a wide range of ethical, legal, and philosophical perspectives. It involves considerations of the sanctity of life, bodily autonomy, utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, viability, timing, the influence of law, ethical dilemmas, and cultural and religious influences.

Ultimately, individuals’ views on the morality of abortion are shaped by a complex interplay of these factors, making it a topic that defies easy resolution. In a world where diverse beliefs and values coexist, the challenge lies in fostering respectful dialogue and finding common ground while acknowledging the profound moral disagreements that persist.

Also read: Can Baby Eat Cheese; Ethics in Entrepreneurship; Business ethics and corporate governance

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