Abortion should be morally permissible, in most cases, because a women’s right to her own body neutralizes the unfortunate circumstance of an aborted fetus. Abortion should only be impermissible if it is justified that a woman is getting multiple pregnancies and abortions without making use or effort of contraceptives. A common argument against abortion is that a fetus is a human being from the moment of conception.
This premise is a slippery slope because it claims that life of a person is continuous from conception to birth and moving on to childhood, which is not necessarily the case. It is a faulty case ecause you would not consider the life of an oak tree being continuous from when it is still an acorn. We cannot draw an imaginary line to determine when a human being actually becomes a person because there is no clear cut distinction, so we will omit the topic of personhood and just agree that human life begins well before birth when the fetus is still inside the womb.
It is a plausible consensus because a fetus acquires common characteristics of a person by the 10th week of conception when it has internal organs, limbs, and brain activity. Every person has a right to live. So it is understandable to argue hat abortion should be impermissible because it would take away a person’s right to live. Also, every women has a right to her own body. So it is understandable that a women can have the option to abort her baby. Which premise outweighs the other though? Which is more important and morally sound?
A person’s right to live or a women’s right to her own body? It is not surprising that some people would say that a fetus’s life is more valuable. Judith Jarvis Thomson has an objection to this. She claims that a women’s right to live should outweigh the life of a fetus and supports her claim in the following thought experiment, amously stated in her “A Defense of Abortion (page 48-49). ” Suppose you wake up one morning next to an unconscious violinist who is world renowned and a member of the “Society of Music Lovers. The violinist has a fatal kidney problem and according to medical records, you are the only person with the right blood type to save him. So the Society of Music Lovers kidnapped you against your own will and plugged your circulatory system to his, in order to clear toxins from his body. If it was not for you being plugged to him, he would die immediately. The only way for you to save his life is to remain ext to him on a hospital bed linked to him for 9 months or more. After that time you can be unplugged and the violinist would recover and live on his own.
It would be extremely kind of you to remain on the hospital bed for 9 months until the violinist recovers, but suppose the doctor said that you have to stay plugged to the violinist for 9 years. If the claim that a person’s right to live outweighs a person’s right to his or her own body, then you should remain plugged to the violinist however long it would take for him to recover. Thomson’s thought experiment shows that this claim is outrageous. Who would want to sacrifice so much time for a person that you never chose to help?
I certainly would not. Thomson later in her paper says that not all abortion is justified, but that abortion should certainly not be impermissible in all cases. Abortion should not be justified if after 7 months of pregnancy a women decides to get an abortion to save the nuisance of being pregnant for another 2 months. Or when a women does not take contraceptive precautions to prevent unwanted pregnancies and repeatedly gets abortions. On the other hand, to say that abortion is wrong no matter what is too uch of an extreme argument.
Suppose a women has been raped or had a contraceptive malfunction and she truly made efforts to prevent pregnancy, but failed anyway. It would be too demanding of the women to have an unwanted baby in her womb for 9 months due to bad luck, so abortion cannot be impermissible in all cases. Don Marquis is an anti-abortionist who argues that abortion is, except in rare cases, seriously immoral and it is in the same moral category as killing an innocent adult human being. Killing deprives the fetus of the potential possibility of engaging in happy life activities.
Marquis famously states, “The loss of one’s life is one of the greatest losses one can suffer. The loss of one’s life deprives one of all the experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments that would otherwise have constituted one’s future (John Chao, powerpoint: Lecture 19). ” Marquis’s core argument is that killing a fetus would not deprive a future of happiness, but that killing would deprive the possibility of experiencing basic life activities. This is his “future- like-ours” argument.
If it is morally wrong to deprive a person of his future and abortion deprives a person from valuing its uture, then abortion is morally wrong. Marquis does make a strong argument that abortion is morally wrong, but he does imply that there is a rare exception to his general rule. He makes an exception for abortion under cases when a fetus is diagnosed with a serious impairment of their ability to be conscious. He makes this exception because according to his “future-like-ours” thesis, abortion is wrong because it prevents a person from enjoying life activities.
But if a person has a severe medical condition like anencephaly (lack of brain formation) or severe retardation, then that fetus would ot be able to experience the life activities that are of intense value to Marquis. In these cases Marquis would make an expiation and allow abortion to take place. Both Judith Jarvis Thomson and Don Marquis make strong arguments for both the pro-abortion camp and the anti- abortion camp. Both philosophers make some exceptions to their claims to make them less extreme and so people can accept their views easier without poking holes in “slippery slope arguments.
Even though both of these philosophers make plausible claims, I lean more to Judith Thomson’s pro-abortion view. Abortion should be morally permissible, in most cases, because a women’s right to her own body neutralizes the unfortunate circumstance of an aborted fetus. Abortion should only be impermissible if it is justified that a woman is getting multiple pregnancies and abortions without making use or effort of contraceptives. Thomson’s argument makes the most sense when the mother is not responsible for getting pregnant or has been forced to be pregnant.
In the violinist thought experiment, you were kidnapped and thus had no choice to be initially be hooked up to the violinist. But what if you made a mistake and bear full or even partial responsibility for being hooked up to the violinist or getting pregnant? This complicates the situation because getting pregnant may be an accident in cases like rape or contraception failure, but it can also be a consequence of carelessness. Contraception is not completely bullet proof. There are cases in which a couple takes proper precautions to prevent unwanted pregnancies and ultimately fail, due to bad luck.
In cases like these, a woman should have the right to abort her baby because it was not her fault. Same thing with rape cases. Woman do not choose to be raped, so those who are victims are definitely prone to having an unwanted baby. How could you tell a women who has been raped that she cannot get rid of a baby that is a result of a vicious crime? I am sure that philosopher’s like Marquis would not deny a woman who accidentally got pregnant an abortion because these are rare exceptions to his anti abortion thesis.
However I would make an even stronger argument that every woman should have one chance in their lifetime to have an abortion. Another thought experiment, “The Burglar in the House Example”, illustrates and backs up my argument that every oman should be granted one chance to have an abortion. Imagine that you leave your home windows unlocked one night while you are in bed upstairs. While you are asleep, a burglar opens the unlocked window and crawls into your home stealing your valuable electronics.
Should you be responsible for the having your valuables stolen? It seems as though you should partially responsible because you left your window unlocked knowing that there is a possibility that someone can break in and steal your property. This situation correlates to women who have unprotected sex. Women by adulthood know the risk f pregnancies and how to prevent it so if a woman ignores the risks and does not use protection, then she should be partially responsible of her pregnancy.
Marquis would argue that in this situation a woman should not to allowed to have an abortion, but I would argue that mistakes do happen and that a woman’s right to her own body outweighs the poor death of the fetus. The first time a woman has an unwanted pregnancy due to carelessness, she should be morally permitted to have an abortion. I do have to admit however, that a woman should not make this mistake twice and must bear full responsibility for her econd pregnancy.
A foreseen counter argument to my “one chance at abortion rule” is that, what if a women gets pregnant twice due to two separate rape attacks or two separate contraceptive malfunctions that are not in their control? I would respond to this counter argument by using statistical analysis to show that it is highly unlikely for a women to be a victim of these circumstances twice in a lifetime. Statistics of female rape are uninvitingly high, however the chances of a women being raped twice and getting pregnant twice as a result, are significantly lower (http://www. sonline. org/? page_id=944).
According to common sense and statistics, there is always a chance of unwanted pregnancies due to a crime of someone else, therefore we cannot ever deny an abortion for a woman. Denying something like that would be unfair. It would also be unfair to allow women who are sexually reckless to have multiple and unjustified abortions for the heck of it. Neither of these extremes are realistic, fair, and morally permissible so to reach a compromise, women should have one or two permissible abortions in their lifetime.
The answers to complicated philosophy discussions, like abortion, cannot lie too close to the extremes. The answer lies somewhere in the middle and so allowing one or two pregnancies per female is a reasonable compromise and answer to this discussion. It allows abortions for those who made efforts to prevent pregnancies and those who have no choice or are careless a couple times in their life. The limit of one or two abortions also prevents reckless and murderous behavior like getting half a dozen pregnancies just because you can.