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A discussion on abortion arguments in favor and against it

Overview[ edit ] The philosophical arguments in the abortion debate are deontological or rights-based. The view that all or almost all abortion should be illegal generally rests on the claims: The view that abortion should in most or all circumstances be legal generally rests on the claims: Although both sides are likely to see the rights-based considerations as paramount, some popular arguments appeal to consequentialist or utilitarian considerations.

For example, anti-abortion advocacy groups see the list below sometimes claim the existence of post-abortion syndrome or a link between abortion and breast canceralleged medical and psychological risks of abortion.

Abortion debate

On the other side, pro-choice groups see the list below say that criminalizing abortion will lead to the deaths of many women through " back-alley abortions "; that unwanted children have a negative social impact or conversely that abortion lowers the crime rate ; and that reproductive rights are necessary to achieve the full and equal participation of women in society and the workforce.

Consequentialist arguments on both sides tend to be vigorously disputed, though are a discussion on abortion arguments in favor and against it widely discussed in the philosophical literature.

Philosophical argumentation on the moral issue[ edit ] Contemporary philosophical literature contains two kinds of arguments concerning the morality of abortion. One family of arguments see the following three sections relates to the moral status of the embryo—the question of whether the embryo has a right to life, is the sort of being it would be seriously wrong to kill, or in other words is a "person" in the moral sense.

An affirmative answer would support claim 1 in the central anti-abortion argument, while a negative answer would support claim 2 in the central pro-choice argument.

Another family of arguments see the section on Thomson, below relates to bodily rights—the question of whether the woman's bodily rights justify abortion even if the embryo has a right to life. A negative answer would support claim 2 in the central pro-life argument, while an affirmative answer would support claim 2 in the central pro-choice argument. Arguments based on criteria for personhood[ edit ] Further information: Beginning of human personhood Since the zygote is genetically identical to the embryo, the fully formed fetus, and the baby, questioning the beginning of personhood could lead to an instance of the Sorites paradoxalso known as the paradox of the heap.

It is wrong to kill innocent human beings. The embryo is an innocent human being. Hence it is wrong to kill the embryo. Warren, however, thinks that "human being" is used in different senses in 1 and 2.

In 1"human being" is used in a moral sense to mean a "person", a "full-fledged member of the moral community".

The abortion debate: can this chronic public illness be cured?

In 2"human being" means "biological human ". That the embryo is a biologically human organism or animal is uncontroversial, Warren holds. But it does not follow that the embryo is a person, and it is persons that have rights, such as the right to life. She thinks there is a cluster of properties that characterize persons: The fetus has at most one, consciousness and this only after it becomes susceptible to pain —the timing of which is disputedand hence is not a person.

Under this proposal, presence of brain waves would be enough to grant personhood, even with other features lacking. Based on whether brain activity in the brain stemor just in the cerebral cortexis relevant for personhood, two concepts of "brain birth" emerge: Warren's arguments face two main objections. The comatose patient objection claims that as patients in a reversible coma do not satisfy Warren's or some other criteria—they are not conscious, do not communicate, and so on—therefore they would lack a right to life on her view.

The comatose also still possess brain activity brain wavesso this objection does not apply to "brain birth" theories. Finally, there are some post-natal humans who are unable to feel pain due to genetic disorders and thus do not satisfy all of Warren's criteria. Warren agrees that infants are non-persons and so killing them is not strictly murderbut denies that infanticide is generally permissible.

Pro-life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments

Killing such a human being would be wrong, not because it is a person, but because it would go against the desires of people willing to adopt the infant and to pay to keep the infant alive. Although, this clarification has problems of its own: Thus, according to Warren, it must be wrong to kill animals, and perhaps even plants.

Nonetheless, Warren grants that her argument entails that infanticide would be morally acceptable under some circumstances, such as those of a desert island. Philosopher Peter Singer similarly concludes that infanticide, particularly of severely disabled infants, is justifiable under certain conditions.

Since brain waves appear in the lower brain brain stem in 6—8 weeks of gestation, and in the higher brain cerebral cortex in 19-20 weeks of gestation, both "whole brain" and "higher brain" brain birth personhood concepts based on the presence of brain waves do not permit infanticide.

In other words, what is crucial is that one be the kind of entity or substance that, under the right conditions, actively develops itself to the point of exhibiting Warren's qualities at some point in its life, even if it does not actually exhibit them because of not having developed them yet embryo, infant or having lost them severe Alzheimer's.

Because human beings do have this natural capacity—and indeed have it essentially —therefore on this view they essentially have a right to life: Grounding the right to life in essential natural capacities rather than accidental developed capacities is said to have several advantages.

It is argued, for example, that as human beings vary significantly in a discussion on abortion arguments in favor and against it natural cognitive capacities some are naturally more intelligent than othersand as one can imagine a series or spectrum of species with gradually diminishing natural capacities for example, a series from humans down to amoebae with only the slightest differences in natural capacities between each successive speciestherefore the problems of arbitrariness and inequality will apply equally to the "natural capacities" view.

Some critics reject the "natural capacities" view on the basis that it takes mere species membership or genetic potential as a basis for respect in essence a charge of speciesism[24] or because it entails that anencephalic infants and the irreversibly comatose have a full right to life. Respondents to this criticism argue that the noted human cases in fact would not be classified as persons as they do not have a natural capacity to develop any psychological features.

The harm consists in the fact that "when I die, I am deprived of all of the value of my future": So for example, if involuntary euthanasia of patients with a future filled with intense physical pain is morally acceptable, aborting embryos whose future is filled with intense physical pain will also be morally acceptable.

But it would not do, for example, to invoke the fact that some embryo's future would involve such things as being raised by an unloving family, since we do not take it to be acceptable to kill a five-year-old just because her future involves being raised by an unloving family. Similarly, killing a child or adult may be permissible in exceptional circumstances such as self-defense or perhaps capital punishment ; but these are irrelevant to standard abortions.

Marquis's argument has prompted several objections. The contraception objection claims that if Marquis's argument is correct, then, since sperm and ova or perhaps a sperm and ovum jointly have a future like ours, contraception would be as wrong as murder; but as this conclusion is it is said absurd—even those who believe contraception is wrong do not believe it is as wrong as murder—the argument must be unsound.

One response [35] is that neither the sperm, nor the egg, nor any particular sperm-egg combination, will ever itself live out a valuable future: As this response makes clear, Marquis's argument requires that what will later have valuable experiences and activities is the same entity, the same biological organism, as the embryo. On certain theories of personal identity generally motivated by thought experiments involving brain or cerebrum transplantseach of us is not a biological organism but rather an embodied mind or a person in John Locke 's sense that comes into existence when the brain gives rise to certain developed psychological capacities.

The success of Marquis's argument thus depends on one's favored account of personal identity. The interests objection claims that what makes murder wrong is not just the deprivation of a valuable future, but the deprivation of a future that one has an interest in. The embryo has no conscious interest in its future, and so the objection concludes to kill it is not wrong.

The defender of Marquis-style arguments may, however, give the counterexample of the suicidal teenager who takes no interest in his or her future, but killing whom is nonetheless wrong and murder. The equality objection claims that Marquis's argument leads to unacceptable inequalities. But as this is strongly counterintuitive most people believe all killings are equally wrong, other things being equalMarquis's argument must be mistaken.

Some writers have concluded that the wrongness of killing arises not from the harm it causes the victim since this varies greatly among killingsbut from the killing's violation of the intrinsic worth or personhood of the victim. The psychological connectedness objection claims that a being can be seriously harmed by being deprived of a valuable future only if there are sufficient psychological connections—sufficient correlations or continuations of memory, belief, desire and the like—between the being as it is now and the being as it will be when it lives out the valuable future.

A defence of this objection is likely to rest, as with certain views of personal identityon thought experiments involving brain or cerebrum swaps; and this may render it implausible to some readers. The bodily rights argument[ edit ] See also: Artificial womb In her well-known article " A Defense of Abortion ", Judith Jarvis Thomson argues that abortion is in some circumstances permissible even if the embryo is a person and has a right to life, because the embryo's right to life is overtrumped by the woman's right to control her body and its life-support functions.

Her central argument involves a thought experiment. Imagine, Thomson says, that you wake up in bed next to a famous violinist. He is unconscious with a fatal kidney ailment; and because only you happen to have the right blood type to help, the Society of A discussion on abortion arguments in favor and against it Lovers has kidnapped you and plugged your circulatory system into his so that your kidneys can filter poisons from his blood as well as your own.

If he is disconnected from you now, he will die; but in nine months he will recover and can be safely disconnected. Thomson takes it that you may permissibly unplug yourself from the violinist even though this will kill him. The right to life, Thomson says, does not entail the right to use another person's body, and so in disconnecting the violinist you do not violate his right to life but merely deprive him of something—the use of your body—to which he has no right.

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Similarly, even if the fetus has a right to life, it does not have a right to use the pregnant woman's body and life-support functions against her will; and so aborting the pregnancy is permissible in at least some circumstances.

However, Thomson notes that the woman's right to abortion does not include the right to directly insist upon the death of the child, should the fetus happen to be viable, that is, capable of surviving outside the womb. The most common objection is that the violinist scenario, involving a kidnappingis analogous only to abortion after rape. In most cases of abortion, it is said, the pregnant woman was not raped but had intercourse voluntarily, and thus has either tacitly consented to allowing the embryo to use her body the tacit consent objection [46]or else has a duty to sustain the embryo because the woman herself caused it to stand in need of her body the responsibility objection [47].

Other common objections turn on the claim that the embryo is the pregnant woman's child whereas the violinist is a stranger the stranger versus offspring objection [48] ; that abortion kills the embryo whereas unplugging the violinist merely lets him die the killing versus letting die objection [48] ; or, similarly, that abortion intentionally causes the embryo's death whereas unplugging the violinist merely causes death as a foreseen but unintended side-effect the intending versus foreseeing objection; [49] cf the doctrine of double effect.

Defenders of Thomson's argument—most notably David Boonin [50] —reply that the alleged disanalogies between the violinist scenario and typical cases of abortion do not hold, either because the factors that critics appeal to are not genuinely morally relevant, or because those factors are morally relevant but do not apply to abortion in the way that critics have claimed.

Critics have in turn responded to Boonin's arguments. John Noonan proposes the scenario a discussion on abortion arguments in favor and against it a family who was found to be liable for frostbite finger loss suffered by a dinner guest whom they refused to allow to stay overnight, although it was very cold outside and the guest showed signs of being sick.

It is argued that just as it would not be permissible to refuse temporary accommodation for the guest to protect them from physical harm, it would not be permissible to refuse temporary accommodation of a fetus.

Philosophical aspects of the abortion debate

They argue that if a baby was born into an environment in which there was no replacement available for her mother's breast milk, and the baby would either breastfeed or starve, the mother would have to allow the baby to breastfeed. But the mother would never have to give the baby a blood transfusion, no matter what the circumstances were. The difference between breastfeeding in that scenario and blood transfusions is the difference between gestation and childbirth on the one hand, and using your body as a kidney dialysis machine on the other.

Virtue ethics One argument against the right to abortion appeals to the secular value of a human life. The thought is that all forms of human life, including the fetus, are inherently valuable because they are connected to our thoughts on family and parenthood, among other natural aspects of humanity.

Thus, abortion can express the wrong attitudes towards humanity in a way that manifest vicious character. This view is represented by some forms of Humanism and by moral philosopher Rosalind Hursthouse in her widely anthologized article "Virtue Theory and Abortion".

For example, she says, "Love and friendship do not survive their parties' constantly insisting on their rights, nor do people live well when they think that getting what they have a right to is of preeminent importance; they harm others, and they harm themselves.