Essay, Research Paper: Abortion


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When does life actually begin? When, if ever, is it right to terminate a
pregnancy? These are some of the moral dilemmas that are faced when dealing with
the issue of abortion. Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. There are
many different stands held on the issue of abortion. For those holding a
conservative view on abortion, abortion is never acceptable except when
necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. In contrast, the liberal view
believes that abortion is always ethically acceptable at any point of fetal
development, and for any reason. Finally, there are those in the middle, that
hold the moderate view. They believe that abortion is ethically acceptable up to
a certain point of fetal development and that some reasons are acceptable. Mary
Anne Warren’s Argument for Abortion Mary Anne Warren’s stand on abortion is
that of a liberal one. In her article, On the Moral and Legal Status of
Abortion, she concludes that “...a women’s right to protect her health,
happiness, freedom, and even her life, by terminating an unwanted pregnancy,
will always override whatever right to life it may be appropriate to ascribe to
a fetus, even a fully developed one.” (pg.16, Mappes) Warren believes that
abortion is permittable because the fetus is not a fully developed person with
moral characteristics; they are human beings that are not yet a person. She
contends that in order to be considered a human, we must satisfy five traits.
These five traits are: 1 consciousness (of objects and events external and/or
internal to the being), and in particular the capacity to feel pain: 2 reasoning
(the developed capacity to solve new and relatively complex problems); 3
self-motivated activity (activity which is relatively independent of either
genetic or direct external control); 4 the capacity to communicate, by whatever
means, messages of an indefinite variety of types, that is, not just with an
indefinite number of possible contents, but on indefinitely many possible
topics; 5 the presence of self-concepts and self-awareness, wither individual or
racial, or both. (pg.12, Mappes) And since a fetus does not possess these five
characters, she believes that they are not entitled to have full moral status,
and may be terminated during any stage of pregnancy. To support her conclusion
she uses creative stories, such as a story about if we landed on a planet how
would we be able to distinguish the aliens as those holding morals such as
ourselves, or things in which we could eat. She also uses another story about if
we were captured by aliens who wanted to make genetic copies of ourselves, by
which we would actually loose our life. She says that no matter how many lives
would be made out of us, we should not have to give up our freedom for others.
These stories are also the main strengths in her argument because it makes the
reader look at the issue of abortion in a different light. By using these
stories, the reader is convinced to take a deeper look into his or her opinion.
The weaknesses to her argument is that if we were to support her argument, that
pregnancy should be able to be terminated at any stage, then we could fall into
a slippery slope. Another weakness to this argument is that abortion could end
up being another form of birth control for those who are irresponsible. Instead
of it being for those who actually have valid reasons, it becomes available to
anyone for any reason, therefore simply becoming another form of birth control.
Finally, she fails to mention that abortions can be damaging to a women’s
health. She talks about how it is our bodies and that we have a right to do what
we want to, to keep them healthy, but fails to bring to our attention that
abortions are not healthy for us. Don Marquis’ Argument against Abortion In
contrast to Marry Anne Warren, Marquis holds a conservative view on abortion. In
the article, “Why Abortion is Immoral,” Marquis concludes that “This essay
sets out an argument that purports to show...that seriously
immoral, that it is in the same moral category as killing an innocent adult
human being.”(pg.27, Mappes) The main reasons backing up his argument are, for
one, simply that it is wrong to kill us. When we are killed we suffer the
greatest loss of all, our life. Second, killing us deprives us of our future
experiences; depriving us of our future deprives us of more than perhaps any
other crime. And third, since a fetus possess a property, the possession of
which in adult beings is sufficient to make killing an adult human being wrong,
then abortion is also wrong. Marquis’ main strength in his argument against
abortion is that it sets up a strong stand that killing of any kind, especially
of those that are our future is always wrong. There are also weaknesses to the
argument as well. For one, he compares the killing of us to the killing of
animals, therefore basically implying that we are at the same moral status as
animals, which I think many would not agree with and look down upon. As well,
the article itself was not all that clear or interesting; the author seemed to
jump around a bit, and not express his opinion very strongly. I was not as
convinced by his argument as I was for Warren’s argument, not that I am for
either one’s argument, merely that Warren’s argument was much stronger. My
Argument on Abortion Abortion is a very serious and complicated issue. I would
have to say that I am firm on my stand that abortion is a women’s choice to a
certain degree; therefore I feel that I hold the moderate view on abortion. The
reasons for my opinion being more to the middle of the extreme views is that the
destruction of any life should not be merely up to ourselves to decide. Abortion
should not be a solution to our irresponsible actions, nor should it not be
allowed to those really needing to terminate their pregnancy. If abortion were
available to all women for any reason, at any stage of pregnancy, we would
become desensitized to the fact that a life is actually being destroyed.
Likewise, if abortion was only available to those in order to save their lives,
or because they were raped, then there would be a lot of unwanted infants in
this world being neglected and not being cared for. Bibliography Mappes, Thomas A. and Jane S.Zembaty 1997 Social Ethics – Morality and
Social Policy. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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