Is it immoral to deliberately end the life of a fetus? This is a philosophical question that tackles the ethics of abortion. This philosophical question demands philosophical answer(s). Before I attempt to answer this question, another basic question that is behind this question must also be answered; what exactly makes it immoral to kill one of us on most occasions? From such explorations I presented three philosophical arguments explaining why I believe abortion, on most occasions, is immoral.
This short essay presented three brief explanations on what makes killing one of us wrong. Those explanations, I will argue, are equally applicable to the killing of fetuses. In this essay I assumed that my readers agree that killing of a suicidal teenager or a revisable comatose patient is wrong. Thus, though a suicidal teenager may currently have no strong desire to live, or a revisable comatose patient may at a certain period be totally unconscious of both her inner self and her outside surroundings, it is immoral to deliberately and unjustifiably end their lives.
An adequate explanation for what exactly makes it immoral to kill one of us, thus, must cover the killing of those who currently have no strong desire to live and also those who are temporary unconscious. The following three explanations cover such cases.
I. Robert Young Inspired Argument
Wrestling with the question behind the question, Robert Young argued that:
“[W]hat makes killing another human being wrong on occasions is its character as an irrevocable, maximally unjust prevention of the realization either of the victim’s life-purposes or of such life-purposes as the victim may reasonably have been expected to resume or to come to have.”(Young 1979: 519)
Utilizing Young’s thesis, the first philosophical argument against abortion, on most occasions, unfolds as following:
(1.1.) What makes killing one of us wrong, on most occasions, is that it unjust prevents the realization either of an individual’s life purpose, or such life-purposes as the individual may reasonably have been expected to resume or to come to have.
(1.2.) Abortion, on most occasions, unjustly prevents the realization of the fetus’ life purpose as the fetus may reasonably have been expected to come to have.
(1.3) Abortion, on most occasions, is wrong.
II. Don Marquis Inspired Argument
Inspired by Young’s thesis, Don Marquis (1989) presented another argument for the immorality of ending the lives of fetuses on most occasions. He argued that abortions, on most occasions, are immoral for the same reason as is immoral to end your life and my life. Killing is wrong, following Marquis, because it deprives the victim’s valuable future like ours (1989).
The future of value like ours to which killing one of us deprives is the future that contains “all the experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments that would otherwise have constituted one’s future” (Marquis 1989:189). Fetuses are reasonably expected to come to have future of values like ours. Marquis expounded:
“The future of value argument for the immorality of abortion claims that the best victim-centered explanation for the wrongness of killing adults and children is that killing deprives them of their future of value. Their future of value consist of whatever, at future times, they will or would then regard as making their lives worth living, Fetuses have futures very much like ours; indeed, their future contain whatever ours contain and more. Therefore (given certain defensible assumptions and a few qualifications), abortion is immoral”(Marquis 2005: 105)
The second philosophical argument against abortion, Marquis’ future of value like ours argument, unfolds as following:
(2.1.) What makes killing one of us wrong, on most occasions, is that it deprives an individual’s future of values like ours.
(2.2.) Abortion deprives fetuses’ future of values like ours.
(2.3.) Abortion, on most occasions, is wrong.
III. Sinnott-Armstrong and Miller Inspired Argument
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Franklin G. Miller also wrestled with the question behind the question. What is it that makes killing one of us wrong? Sinnott-Armstrong and Miller argued that what makes killing one of us wrong, on most occasions, is not its character of loss of life or consciousness per se but rather its character of total disability of the victim (Sinnott-Armstrong & Miller 2013a).
They, thus, argued that “killing humans is almost always morally wrong, because killing humans is almost always disabling, and disabling is morally wrong (pro tanto—that is, without an adequate justification or excuse)” (Sinnott-Armstrong & Miller 2013b: 12).
Killing of one of us cannot cause lose of past or present abilities. These abilities are completed and cannot be taken away. A modification, thus, in Sinnott-Armstrong’s thesis is needed to clarify the abilities lost. A modified version, thus, could be: What makes killing one of us wrong, on most occasions, is its character of universally and irreversibly lose of abilities the victim may reasonably come to have.
Utilizing a modified Sinnott-Armstrong’s and Miller’s thesis on the wrongness of killing one of us, a third philosophical argument against abortion, on most occasions, unfolds as following:
(3.1.) What makes killing one of us wrong, on most occasions, is its character of universally and irreversibly lose of abilities the victim may reasonably come to have.
(3.2.) Abortion causes universally and irreversibly lose of fetuses’ abilities that they may reasonably have been expected to come to have.
(3.3.) Abortion, on most occasions, is wrong.
These are skeletons of three philosophical arguments that could be presented for the immorality of abortion on most occasions. Some of my future articles on the ethics of abortion will defend each of argument individually showing their strengths and possible weakness. You are welcome, until then, to interact with these arguments by offering your constructive criticism and possible objections.
Marquis, D. (1989) ‘Why abortion is immoral,’ Journal of Philosophy 4, 2:242-245
_________ (2005) ‘ Brill’s Objections to the Future of Value Argument,’ Social Theory and Practice, 31, 1:105-114
Sinnott-Armstrong W, & Miller F. G. (2013a) ‘ What makes killing wrong?,’ Journal of Medical Ethics 39:3-7
_________ (2013b) ‘ Killing versus totally disabling: a reply to critics,’ Journal of Medical Ethics 39:12-14
Young, R. (1979) ‘ What Is So Wrong with Killing People?’ Philosophy 54, 210: 515-528
63 thoughts on “What is Wrong with Abortion?”
It seems logical that a person’s opinion about abortion should naturally be the same as their opinion about killing someone already born. That is because there really is no difference at what stage someone is killed.
In my mind, whether someone is killed as a zygote or as a 30 year old makes no difference. Either way, they will never reach the age of 31. It is for this reason that I am against killing either. I can not give them back their future and so I cannot justify taking it away from them.
That is because there really is no difference at what stage someone is killed.
How is a zygote “someone”? Does it have memories?
How can a zygote be “killed”?
Don’t burst the bubble thinking, John.
Dealing with such issues you raise first (that’s hard, you see) means a reduction in the feeling of righteous piety of being a soldier for the innocent! And we can’t have that.
No John, rather than deal with these difficult issues you raise first (before drawing conclusions that might take these difficult and oftentimes thorny issues into account), these good little soldiers must define you as the militant for raising issues that might tempt them into questioning, which might undermine their loyalty to following the orders of life’s Dear Leader. You must be vilified first so that you may be categorized as the dark champion of death and murderous immorality! That’ll fix the problem here… and avoid having to think independently of blindly following religious orders to first sanctify and then defend a blastocyst (not naturally aborted by God Himself, of course) above any and all other considerations.
What relevance do memories have? Also, I suppose it would be hard to kill a zygote since it would be difficult to know it was there until later development.
it would be hard to kill a zygote since it would be difficult to know it was there until later development
Why then did you previously state there really is no difference at what stage someone is killed ? It seems you’re now contradicting yourself. Any particular reason for this confusion, or are you admitting a zygote (blastocyst, embryo, and foetus) is not a “someone”?
I asked you: How can a zygote (or a blastocyst, embryo, or a foetus until a certain time) be “killed”? You used the word quite candidly, and I’m asking you to explain and justify its usage.
Just because it is hard to kill a zygote doesn’t mean that it doesn’t prevent the birth, childhood, and adulthood of the human. If it were possible, it would still cause death.
If you don’t know what “killed” means, I recommend a dictionary.
Is answering the question beyond you? You seemed so certain in your use of the word, killed, that I’m assuming you have a rational, clear, and unambiguous justification for its use.
So, let’s try one more time: How can a zygote (or a blastocyst, embryo, or a foetus until a certain time) be “killed”?
Killing something ends its life. It results in death, which would means all its future choices and experiences will not happen. It is like if someone chopped your body into pieces. You would not be here.
It results in death
Indeed, killing does result in death. Do you know what death is? Can you give me the legal, scientific and medical definition of death? To save you some time, here it is:
This is quite clear: The legal, medical and scientific definition of Death is the cessation of brain activity. So, we know precisely what “death” is, and the opposite of death is “life,” is it not? Without death there is no life. The former begets the latter. The latter assigns meaning to the former. One delineates the other, and the definition of death is not in dispute: the cessation of brain activity.
Now, neither a zygote, a blastocyst, or embryo has any brain, let alone brain activity, and the foetus does not begin to exhibit sustained EEG activity until week 25, after which time it may be considered “On.” Now I’m sure you’ll agree, but only after something is “On,” can it be turned, “Off,” correct?
So, do tell me, how can you turn something “Off” that is not “On”? How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?
I’ll tell you where you are wrong John.
Imagine a future where a new virus affects every women on the planet and they can no longer produce eggs. Once every egg that is in cryogenic storage is used up what happens? Right. The human race would die out.
You are right the sperm and egg are part of a living system, but not until they bind does a new life come into existence. One unit has 23 chromosomes, the other 23 chromosomes, and together at 46, we have another unique human life. The second we interrupt the union of sperm and egg on a permanent basis is the moment we start to die out, forever.
It is funny you say, “life began blah, blah, blah” but then when presented with scientific evidence that human life begins at conception you balk.
Here we have a simple explanation of early human development from
“zygote, fertilized egg cell that results from the union of a female gamete (egg, or ovum) with a male gamete (sperm). In the embryonic development of humans and other animals, the zygote stage is brief and is followed by cleavage, when the single cell becomes subdivided into smaller cells.”
And another, from
“Human embryogenesis is the process of cell division and cellular differentiation of the embryo that occurs during the early stages of development. In biological terms, human development entails growth from a one celled zygote to an adult human being.’
I could list hundreds of these and they all say the same thing in regards to when human life begins. It is detestable that some people think it is perfectly fine to forcibly extract an otherwise perfect, living, future human.
7 out of 10? You are fudging again John.
“About 1 in 7 recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. Most are caused by a one-off fault in the genes…most couples who experience this will go on to have a successful pregnancy next time.”
“Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage.”
You end with the most asinine question I’ve ever read, “So, the question remains: how can you turn something “Off” that is not “On”? How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?
My answer is simple. The precise moment of fertilization the creation process of a new life is turned ON. Unless severely damaged, or denied or deprived of a suitable environment, a human being in the embryonic stage will, by directing its own integral organic functioning, develop himself or herself to the next more mature developmental stage, i.e., the fetal stage. The embryonic, fetal, child, and adolescent stages are stages in the development of a determinate and enduring entity–a human being–who comes into existence as a single-celled organism (the zygote) and develops, if all goes well, into adulthood many years later.”
Terminate means “to bring to an end”. In terminating a pregnancy we are ending the process of a developing human being. The developing human is aborted before it can take it’s first breath.
Synonyms for terminate: bring to an end, abort, abolish, do away with, kill, extinguish, obliterate, annihilate.
My answer is simple. The precise moment of fertilization the creation process of a new life is turned ON.
Sorry Roy, but it’s not turned “On” at fertilisation, and no amount of special pleading will make it so. Life never emerges in the zygote, blastocyst, embryo, or foetus. Something is only “On” when it can be turned “Off,” and until the foetus begins to exhibit sustained EEG activity it is potential only. Would you like me to re-post the legal, scientific and medical definition of “death;” the one and only thing that delineates human “life”?
Given the legal, scientific and medical definition of death, the question remains untouched, and unanswered: how can you turn something “Off” that is not “On”? How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?
This is not a wordplay (as you and Prayson try to make it, deploying words like “killing” which you then cannot rationally justify), rather legal, scientific and medical reality. The U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. National Library of Medicine call natural abortion after week 20 “preterm deliveries,” while before that date it is labeled “miscarriages.” Why this demarcation line? Why this distinction at the precise moment when the first stirrings of foetal brain activity can be detected? Could it be, Roy, because this is recognised by all professionals in the field as approaching the defined onset of human life?
I also see you didn’t answer my question of whether you call the natural abortion of 70% of successful fertilisations “killing.” I’m not surprised, it’s a tremendously awkward fact for you to wrestle with, I understand, and can even sympathise with your position and appreciate your deafening silence on the matter. And for your information, I don’t have to lie to make my points Roy.
From the U.S. National Library of Medicine:
So, Roy, do you call this mass of aborted potential (7 out of 10 successful fertilisations) “killing”?
Look no further than medical science Chandler. The biological facts of human embryogenesis and early development, and its conclusion is inescapable: From a purely biological perspective, scientists can identify the point at which a human life begins. The relevant studies are legion. The biological facts are uncontested. The method of analysis applied to the data is universally accepted.
Human life starts when then the sperm, containing 23 chromosomes, unites with an egg, also containing 23 chromosomes, making a human with 46 chromosomes. EVERY biologist, every embryologist, will tell you the same thing, life starts at the beginning, in other words at the conception.
JZ and the like, seem to want to argue with us no matter the subject matter. They will use smoke and mirrors, even twisting Scripture to insinuate a meaning that is not there.
The icing on the cake is “definitions”. Example: the definition of killing, “the cessation of brain activity“. Do you see it? He is trying to correlate a developing fetus, who has yet not had time to develop measurable brain activity (EEG), to a mature human who had an EEG and lost it through death.
So all you have to do Chandler, when explaining how you feel that abortion is killing a future human, is to quote scientist.
[T]he embryo comes into existence at sperm-egg fusion … a human organism is fully present from the beginning, controlling and directing all of the developmental events that occur throughout life. This view of the embryo is objective, based on the universally accepted scientiﬁc method of distinguishing diﬀerent cell types from each other, and it is consistent with the factual evidence. It is entirely independent of any speciﬁc ethical, moral, political, or religious view of human life or of human embryos. Indeed, this deﬁnition does not directly address the central ethical questions surrounding the embryo: What value ought society to place on human life at the earliest stages of development? Does the human embryo possess the same right to life as do human beings at later developmental stages? A neutral examination of the factual evidence merely establishes the onset of a new human life at a scientiﬁcally well deﬁned “moment of conception,” a conclusion that unequivocally indicates that human embryos from the zygote stage forward are indeed living individuals of the human species—human beings.”
I am glad that you understand that. There are a lot of science quotes in the pro-life books I read. I am not always prepared to answer scientific questions. I know that most people won’t listen to science either. Thanks for your comment. I needed the encouragement.
Roy means well, chandlerklebs, but he is in gross error, and he knows it. See my reply.
Sorry Roy, but “life” does not begin at fertilisation. At no stage does life magically appear in a zygote, a blastocyst, embryo, or foetus. Ever. Life began on earth 3.8 billion years ago and hasn’t been interrupted since. A foetus was never inorganic and suddenly becomes organic. The sperm and the egg were already a part of the living system; a system that began 3.8 billion years ago. Defined human life is therefore determined only by the presence of sustained EEG activity. Before that moment there is only potential, and upwards of 70% of such potential is naturally aborted. Do you call this mass of aborted potential (7 out of 10 successful fertilisations) “killing”?
So, the question remains: how can you turn something “Off” that is not “On”? How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?
Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.
Welcome to the real world of what forced birth looks like in practice. It kills people. How moral.
Stupid and idiotic. Why not put the irrational victim in a coma, deliver the human via c-section, give it to a couple who can not have children and would give anything to have a child?
Killing an innocent makes no sense to me, no matter what the circumstances are. Dumb is, in this case, is there is no winners, only broken people. The rapist is broken, the victim is broken, and the innocent is at risk.
So we know your priority TD no name..whatever? It’s my body I can do what I want to…he hurt me…he raped me…violent and sadistic evil came to me…the human inside me must die.
Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
Philosophy generally seeks to provide a secular approach to issues of right and wrong. That is, without regard to God’s expectations, philosophy seeks to divine the differences between right and wrong. Note, however, that as Prayson Daniel presents his philosophical arguments against abortion each argument begins with the assumption that harming another human being is wrong. Hence what these arguments effectively do is show that when murdering someone, we harm them.
So why is it wrong to harm another human being? If we can answer that question (and almost all of us can if we care to admit it), then I suspect we already know why abortion is wrong. Nonetheless, because so many refuse to concede that abortion is wrong, it still seems necessary for Daniel to make his arguments.
Because Daniel makes his arguments in the so-called secular realm, his posts spark debates. The “pro-choice” advocates make very little effort to refute Daniel’s arguments directly. Instead they argue life begins at birth or advocate the mother’s right to choose.
As practical matter Daniel has structured his argument so that ending a life becomes an issue once conception has occurred. Then we have the potential of preventing the realization of an individual’s life purpose. Then we might deprive an individual’s future of values like ours. Then we can cause an individual the lost of abilities they may reasonably have come to have.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the reality of our court justices is to avoid any philosophical scrutiny when they make judicial decisions. Most judicial as well as government decisions are made to satisfy this old saying.
“Squeaky wheels get the most grease.”
Regards and good will blogging.. .
Regards and good will blogging
That was interesting, thank you. I’ve never read a philosophical argument before.
This is an interesting post. It’s refreshing to see this addressed from a philosophical perspective, rather than a merely religious or political one. Objections to abortion that are premised on Bible verses or Papal declarations have no validity outside of the borders of the religious tradition from which they come, whereas a well-reasoned philosophical/moral argument should (as would a scientific argument). I appreciate that your references are to academic journals of philosophy and medical ethics.
I’m unfamiliar with this as a philosophical discussion, but I’d be surprised if there aren’t philosophical arguments that come to the opposite conclusion (i.e. that conclude that abortion is in most cases not wrong). Assuming such arguments exist, do you plan to address them directly?
Anyone who is taking on John Z and rifling Violetwisp’s feathers is a friend of mine. Stand strong, brother.
How very “Christian” of you 😉
It’s so nice to have followers!
Not sure if Ask The Bigot (her chosen name, not mine) and her backwater Christian extremist right wing church is exactly Prayson’s cup of tea: he loves homosexuals, as one should, whereas she’d like to see them burn.
Talk about extremes: Askme says she is a Fulbright scholar, raised in part by a loving same-sex couple, who states that “unless you have an objection (to her opinion) based on the Bible, your opinion has little value to me!
Once again, we see the effects of putting aside cognitive integrity and function in order to have an emotionally and sexually satisfying experience with a religious mate. That’s the power of the religious meme and we should marvel at pernicious effects in such a mind.
Not that I don’t think she can defend herself Tildeb, but pulling one line out of a paragraph and distorting it’s meaning is a bit ___ wrong..
“To the Christian reader: Scripture alone is our authority. God’s Word is to inform every thought, word and deed. In this Blog I will strive to represent the whole counsel of scripture. If you disagree with me, I am happy to hear your critique. But unless you have an objection based on the Bible, your opinion has little value to me. God expects us to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves- so let’s understand what God’s Word says and WHY, and then take His love to all.”
What’s the distortion? If anyone criticizes her opinions on her blog – presumably another Christian but who knows? – then she’s telling the readership straight up that ” unless you have an objection based on the Bible, your opinion has little value to me.” And she justifies this as fist preparing the message properly before taking it to the street, so to speak. The anomaly I’m pointing out is that on the one hand, she’s able to get a Fulbright scholarship but on the other too dull to realize that the original assumption (that the bible is the word of god and true through hermeneutics) may be wrong.
The closing paragraph starts by addressing, therefore only intended for, the “Christian reader”.
I don’t think I might be wrong about the Bible or the truths it declares. Does that make me dull too? Does not believing we might be wrong make you sharper than all the Christians in the world? Is that your mindset, your smarter than us because we don’t feel like we might be wrong?
Umm… to be blunt, yes to most of your questions… although it’s not so much a question of intelligence as it is an exercise of honest intellectual integrity. Certitude of religious belief categorizes honest intellectual integrity to be a vice. That’s a clue…
It takes an egotistical hubris of an enormity difficult to grasp to assume one’s beliefs in the unlikely/improbable/unbelievable are without doubt fundamentally correct in the whole (with some room to quibble in the specific). Such an assumption in one area of life – religion that is almost certainly geographically determined – not reflected in other areas of life that demands intellectual integrity reveals the dichotomy – the cognitive dissonance – that must underlie certitude in such faith-based arrogance and a dishonest rejection of legitimate ignorance. You don’t know God any more than I do and you don’t know anything about the god empowered by your willingness to be certain. You just pretend you do and spout scripture as if it justified your empowerment. The empowerment, the certainty, comes solely from you which is why you cannot demonstrate your supposed ‘knowledge’ about your God any better than any other religious believer in some other supposed God. And that’s a brute fact no amount of certainty by you can overcome… or you would. And that’s a very powerful clue about the source of your belief – you – and the source of your certainty that it’s descriptive of the reality we share – you. You’ve demonstrated that you don’t care about what’s honest by your refusal to accept justifiable uncertainty and you’ve demonstrated that you don’t care that that uncertainty is fully justified by the reality we share. You just wave it away and substitute your beliefs by dishonestly labeling them as ‘knowledge’ independent of you. That’s not a a sign of intelligence; it’s a sign of religious fundamentalism imbedded in a false certainty that lies at the very heart of any and all religious belief advertised dishonestly as reasonable and humble. It’s not. It’s hubris.
Wow. OK. That is a lot and I read it several times. You write using big words people normally do not use in everyday conversations. You then use these big words to form deep concepts and it requires me to read it, close my eyes and try to visualize what you are trying to convey, and I think I understand your dilemma with understanding people like me.
The God I worship I know and He knows me. He has saved my life several times. He has came to me in dreams and given me warnings that then saved my life. He spoke to me once and told me what He could do if I only accepted it. He answered my pray but He did it in His time, not mine, it took 5 years to answer one specific need, 23 for another, 28 years for another. How many times has my Lord steered my path and put protection or opportunity in my life, only He knows. It isn’t something I turn on or off. I pray and I wait and I wait however long it takes and I know in my 54 years that I have nothing to fear. Many times I have sat, not liking, and contemplating my situation, asking why, and got no answer other than a feeling to just–wait.
The things I know about Gods power is subjective. In other words, they are mine. They happened to me and I am what I am because of them. What I have lived through, what He has done for me, and what I have witnessed firsthand in the lives of others, is MY testimony.
So, everything you say about “certainty’ is true. NOTHING I say will convince you of Gods saving grace, but that is on YOU. I do not have to be like you, uncertain. Uncertain has not been my life experience. You have to understand that your fight is not against me, or people like me, but against God. Not until you fall to your knees and ask Him into your heart will you know what I know.
It times time, fortitude, and grace to engage you two. That’s absolutely worth standing together over John. 😉
Ah, so you hate atheists more than you hatehomosexuals?
Like I said. It takes much grace…
It takes grace to hate? What an exceedingly novel concept…
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For a Christian the whole argument is a waste of time, unless your ultimate purpose is to show the world you are right. If Christians succeed and overturn Roe v. Wade then the only thing that will happen is that abortion will go to the back alleys where it existed BEFORE Roe v. Wade.
The church should drop the legal argument, as it will change nothing either way, and ficus on treating this as a social issue. Like homelessness. Until they plan on what to do with these children who were not aborted and their mother, I don’t see a fix. I just see some big money groups making profits on both sides and no Christian conduct out of anyone supporting them. Except for the Atheists, cause unlike God, I got favorites.:)
Reality is that Evil is loose and he roams about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The Devil is waiting and ready to help the lost justify their ungodliness. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I pray you protect yourselves and those you love, the Bible will tell you how.
Abortion is legal most everywhere and where it isn’t it can be obtained for a price. This will never change. As of October 1, 2013, there were 3,088 death row inmates in the United States waiting to get murdered, legally. Same sex marriage, legalizing prostitution, legalizing drugs, the number of people on welfare, on and on, everything is getting worse.
There will never be a Utopian Earth until the Second Coming. Until then there will be killing, starvation, pain, suffering, and Evil.
Christians must everyday seek the Lord and be strong in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s evil tricks and schemes. For our struggle is not against people on earth or flesh and blood, but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Ephesians 6:10-13 Paraphrased
Great article…interesting way of arguing against abortion independently of the ultimate question about when life begings.
This post makes sense if titled, “What’s wrong with murdering?” and the first premise is dropped entirely.
The hurdle to make it about abortion is to establish first that abortion is murder. This you have not done except by fiat. And that fiat is factually wrong.
Abortion happens for many reasons. You ignore all of these save for ending the fetus’ chance at survival by the mother’s decision on moral considerations alone. If held to the same standard, I could just as well argue that not killing adulterers was a moral failure on YOUR part. But this approach does not serve to explore the very real considerations of abortion.
Primarily, abortion is a medical issue first. And the primary caregiver must be of primary concern here. That means the only person were talking about is the one capable of bearing full responsibility and making a fully responsible informed choice. That is not the fertilized egg, not the blastocyst, not the embryo, and not the fetus, and not you… for whatever deserving reasons you think you should. It is the woman. The entire woman, the person who has to factor in all the important considerations to her life and bringing new life into it. And this includes consideration by her for her own her medical health.
If you wish to explore all the medical considerations that lead up to making a choice about abortion, I think you would place morality well back in the pack. Therapeutic abortion and the pronounced risk to the woman’s life ranks a little higher than some man’s religious armchair considerations. Yet we find a very strong correlation between abortion rates and religiosity. We find much lower rates where woman are empowered to choose contraceptives… often prohibited on religious grounds by the most vociferous forced birthers who care far less for the suffering and death of real women forced by law to undergo full term pregnancies.
If morality is so important to you, then you should be an active soldier in promoting birth control and the legal empowerment of women to fully control their reproductive healthcare in order to effectively and meaningfully reduce abortion rates. The cohort least likely to support these measures are the religious who claim their ‘morality’ should be of primary concern. And that’s why any religious argument about abortion in terms of morality is ripe with hypocrisy from the opening premise.
“Primarily, abortion is a medical issue first.”
Since when the natural and normal function of the body is a medical issue?
“Yet we find a very strong correlation between abortion rates and religiosity. ”
You seem to be quoting a source of data. When I google that ‘fact’, the methodologies used in the survey to come up with the ‘strong correlation’ seems poorly designed.
The first hurdle isn’t whether abortion is murder, the first huddle is establishing a logical and consistent basis to establish “personhood”. My problem with ‘pro-choice’ is personhood seems arbitrary. At development stage X it suddenly becomes illegal to kill the person, even though very little has physically changed with the ‘person’.
The first hurdle isn’t whether abortion is murder, the first huddle is establishing a logical and consistent basis to establish “personhood”.
For someone with access to the internet, this ‘hurdle’ you face is perplexing. Personhood occurs at birth when the baby is separated from its mother – a logical and consistent basis where autonomy begins and is legally established. There’s no ‘arbitrary’ problem to overcome and most legal systems accept this starting point for legal protections. There is no ‘person’ before this event: there is only potential. The degree of potential is clearly and succinctly described in medical terminology, which is why when one hears a fertilized egg being described as a ‘baby’, we know we’ve left the field of rational description and entered the charged arena of forced birth rhetoric where the autonomous rights of the actual woman are held in contempt and even abeyance in favour of the potential of the blastocyst.
Where forced birth is practiced, the rate of women dying is greatest. These correlate to populations who most strongly identify as religious. Coincidence?
Where easy access to contraceptives and medical clinics are highest, we find the lowest rates of abortion. These correlate to populations who most strongly identify as non religious. Coincidence?
What you are trying to advocate – namely, forced birth – cloaked in religious garb about morality is hypocritical if the issue is about reducing abortion (a naturally occurring event to about 30% of all blastocysts). Your choice here is clear.
I don’t think there was any religious garb in my comment, though I see pseudo science garb covering your opinions. You use anti-religious rhetoric about abortion rates using sources that conducted “leading”- surveys.
People tend to see their side as superior, either intelligently or morally, and attribute the opposite traits to their opponents.
How do you determine personhood is at birth? What is the basis of that conclusion? That’s my intellectual problem with a pro-choice position. Why not a different time period?
Ed, although this isn’t apparently what Prayson had in mind here with this post, the entire concept of personhood is loaded with religious (most right wing evangelical Christian) nonsense. Tildeb is perfectly correct stating the legal definition of a person begins at birth, at which time rights and applicable protections are granted. As per the status of the foetus, advanced countries correctly recognise the presence of sustained EEG activity (roughly week 25) as the cut-off time for legal abortions, excluding special cases where the life of the mother (the only sentient entity with existing rights in the equation) is in peril. Sustained EEG activity marks the moment the foetus can be considered “On,” and only after something is “On” can it be turned “Off.” Here we start getting into definitions of defined human life, and simply put, defined human life begins at the moment its twin, death, also springs into existence. Without death there is no life. The former begets the latter. The latter assigns meaning to the former. One delineates the other, and fortunately the definition of death is not in dispute. Death is when electroencephalography (EEG) activity ceases. That’s it. That’s death. It follows quite naturally therefore that the onset of defined human life is when foetal brain activity begins to exhibit regular and sustained wave patterns, and that occurs consistently around week 25 of pregnancy. Only after something can die can it be considered alive, only when something is “On,” can it be turned “Off,” and to argue anything to the contrary is patently absurd.
Thank you, and your right, I hope I’m not hijacking the author’s article. (If I am feel free to unapproved my comments).
I’m not familiar with the baggage of the term personhood, I was just reaching for a word that meant person with a right to exist.
This issue is a complex one with very important, but nuanced points that each side wants to make. But the nuances are hard to hear since everyone is yelling. And everyone is looking for gotcha points to latch on to.
Would you consider abortion wrong if there is sustained EEG activity? And if not, what point does it become killing?
It’s not complicated at all, as I have just demonstrated. We have very clear scientific and legal definitions in place. The noise you’re alluding to is entirely from the religious. There is no debate in any scientific, medical, or legal arena.
If the mother’s life was in peril, or the pregnancy was the result of rape I’d be fine with any late-term abortion. As stated, there is only one sentient entity with existing rights in the equation: the woman, who has full autonomy over her body. Sustained wave functions do not denote an individual with legal rights, but do serve as a marker from which reasonable laws can be written. You are trying to prescribe terms (“killing”) which are only applicable to entities with legal rights.
There seems to be plenty of debate from science, medical and legal. I can appreciate not wanting to get pinned down on a specific definition of killing on a wordpress post that is pro-life but I’ll give it one more try and then we’ve probably exhausted our side discussion. 🙂
You said you’d be fine with late term abortions in some cases. Does that imply you think late-term abortions are morally wrong in other cases?
If you think there’s debate in serious science, medical and legal arenas, then rather than just making an unsubstantiated claim, please cite these examples with references to published papers. I’d be more than interested to read.
You’re reaching, and not grabbing anything, I’m afraid. Now you are trying to inject a moral note into something that doesn’t fit. To repeat: there is one sentient entity with existing rights in the equation. The newborn acquires legal status upon first breath, marking the moment it is a self-sustaining entity.
Let me ask you: when do you think life emerges in the foetus?
We’ve reached a point were we aren’t responding to each other. I like some of the points you make and they give me interesting things to think on. But it feels like we aren’t discussing any more, just dancing. Nothing Either of us respond with will change the others position.
Not sure what you’re talking about here, Ed. I believe I answered your questions fully. Conversely, all it seems you have done in this brief exchange was make a rather outlandish, unsubstantiated claim, which you evidently can’t back up, then failed to address my “single” question to you. The only person dancing here, therefore, appears to be you.
The article also fails to address when prenatal infanticide (abortion) is acceptable under the various philosophical premises presented.
The “it’s the woman’s body” argument is pure, unadulterated bovine fecal matter. The human being growing inside the woman is not the woman’s body, it’s a distinct human being. Further, there is no valid basis to presume that the woman’s convenience trumps the child’s right to live. The unborn child is being killed unjustly, not having ever done anything wrong. If it’s okay to kill an unborn child simply because it exists or because its existence is an inconvenience to the mother, there is no valid argument for saying it’s wrong to kill a child outside the womb for the same reasons.
Another issue arises, at least for Christians. If, as is generally assumed, the unborn child is “innocent,” then the death of the unborn child automatically guarantees its entrance into heaven. Thus, trying to prevent the child’s death puts the child at risk of eternity in the Lake of Fire. Why would we want to risk anyone going to Hell (not the city in Michigan) simply because of some mistaken notion that a child’s “right to life” in this present world trumps his guarantee of eternal life in God’s presence?
Let’s start with the first sentence.
You ask: “Is it immoral to deliberately end the life of a fetus?”
To proceed, you must first answer this question: when does “life” begin in the foetus?
These three philosophical arguments do not depend on when life begin, thus answering that question is irrelevant.
Whether they do or don’t is irrelevant. You made a clear and purposeful statement in the first sentence, and you should be able to defend that statement. If you cannot defend that statement, then I’d expect you will remove the statement.
Then I am sorry to disappoint your expectation 😉
No need to apologise to me. It’s to yourself you should be apologising for opening a post with a bold, yet flamboyantly erroneous statement, then pretending it doesn’t render every following word entirely meaningless. Seriously, if you can’t defend your opening comment, why bother wasting time with the rest? You’re argument is already fatally flawed 😉
If my arguments do not depend on when life begins then I do not see how they are already fatally flawed 🙂
I have apologized to myself and I have forgiven myself 😉
That’s nice to hear 🙂
Interesting and very well presented arguments. However, the greater issue is the right of a Woman to come to her own conclusion.
Does she have the right?
Is she the one person who must struggle with and ultimately choose what is best for herself and her body?
Or can we as a (male dominated) society choose what’s right for her?
I addressed those question in my previous article: https://withalliamgod.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/is-abortion-womens-right-to-control-their-bodies/
Does anyone has a right to end the life of any other person? Let say, do a mom has the right to abadom a 3 month old baby in the middle of a winter storm? Simply because she does not want to carry the responsability to care for the baby? What about a newborn baby? Is that morrally acceptable? What about a baby that s not born yet? What about the right of that baby? The baby is the one who is going to be killed and suffer the irreversable choice of the mom.
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