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Why Abortion Is

Immoral-Don Marquis
Pro Choice vs Pro Life
Foundations of the Two Sides
- Anti- abortionists believe life is present from moment of conception and that
fetuses look like babies or fetuses possess a trait such as genetic code that is
both necessary and sufficient for being human, which makes abortion akin to

- Pro- choicers advocate that fetuses are not persons and arent rational
agents or social beings which would prove the opposite, that abortion is not
wrongful killing.

- From here there is a standoff, but which side do you agree with?
The Gravity of Killing
- Loss of life is the greatest loss one can suffer because it takes away and robs
one of of experiences, activities, projects, and events in ones future.

- When you are killed or die you are deprived of what I know now value which
would be part of your future personal life and what I would come to know value.

- What is so sad about people with AIDS, cancer, or any terminal illness is the
very loss of their future and life ahead.

- It is argued that standard fetuses possess these and have these futures, almost
equivalent to very young children.

- Do you think this applies to abortion and why it could be morally wrong?
Discontinuation/Desire Account
- Killing is wrong because it interferes with fulfillment of strong, fundamental
desire to live.

- Maybe the fetus lacks desire to live but dont we view it as wrong to kill a
suicidal individual or a patient begging for death?

- Maybe these people do have a future like ours, so it would be wrong to kill
Value needs a Valuer
- Tooley: Since fetuses have no desire for continued existence, it lacks a right
to life

- John C. Stevens: One may have the right to be treated by a procedure but
perhaps cant conceive of the nature of it.

- Again: Maybe a suicidal person has no desire, but should we kill them? There
have been depressed or suicidal people who have gone on to recover or have
meaningful lives.

- Does value play a significant role in the abortion debate?

Views of Paul Bassen
- The embryo can not be wronged or victimized because it lacks sentience.

- Mere metabolism not mentation, cant be victimized- how about those that
are unconscious? Quinlan Case.

- Counter: Cant embryos be victims?- deprived of futures, prospects, directly


- View shows how someone being a victim involves empathy like flood, famine,
abuse victims.

- But how about the author with low standards of his work, wouldnt it still be
wrong to destroy his work? He would still be a victim.
Moral Status of the Fetus
- Wrongness of abortion subject to permissibility standing or falling on the
moral status of the fetus.

- The fetus has properties and possessions of which in adult beings makes
killing them wrong.

- Clearly wrong to kill adults but not some arbitrarily chosen cell. Some
respects fetuses are cells and others like adult beings.

- The problem regarding ethics of abortion is the problem of determining

fetal property that settles the moral dispute.
A Defense of Abortion
Judith Jarvis Thomson works at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as
a philosophy professor.
She argues that even if a fetus is a person at conception, at least some
abortions could still be morally permissible.
A women has a right not to have her body used by someone else against
her will, which is essentially the case when she is pregnant due to no fault
of her own (as a result of rape, for example).
Do you guys agree or disagree with this?
A Defense Of Abortion

She also states that we have to agree that the fetus has already become a
human person well before birth.
By the tenth week, it already has a face, arms and legs, fingers, and toes;it
has internal organs, and brain activity is detectable at this time.
Knowing this now, Does it change your view on abortion?
A Defense of Abortion
Suppose a woman becomes pregnant, and now learns that she has a
cardiac condition such that she will die if she carries the baby to term.
The Fetus, being a person, has a right to life, but as the mother is a person
too, so she has a right to life
How is it supposed to come out that an abortion may not be performed?
Does this women have a good enough reason to get an abortion, and
what would you do if you were placed in this situation?
Abortion is Morally
Mary Anne Warren
Two Types of Humanity
Genetic Humanity
Moral Humanity
The sense in which any member of
Some human beings are not people,
the species is a human being, and no
and there may well be people who
member of any other species could
are not human beings
According to Warren, a man or
Fetuses have genetic humanity due to
woman in a coma has lost
the presence of the full genetic code
Potential capacity for rational thought
Defective human beings with no
appreciable mental capacity are not
Do you believe humanity is circumstantial?
Moral Humanity Citizens of the future should
be prepared to recognize
self-aware robots, and
intelligent inhabitants of
other worlds, as people in
the fullest sense
To ascribe full moral rights
to an entity which is not a
person is as absurd as to
ascribe moral obligations
and responsibilities to such
an entity
Defining the Moral Community
Traits most central to the concept of personhood/humanity in the moral sense

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
3. Self-motivated activity (activity which is relatively independent of either
genetic or direct external control)
4. The capacity to communicate (messages of many types and on many topics)
5. The presence of self-concepts, and self-awareness, either individual or racial,
or both

Is there anything missing in this definition of personhood?

Moral Humanity and the Fetus
Any being (such as the fetus) which satisfies none of the criteria (1-5)
is certainly not a person
A 7 or 8 month old fetus is not significantly more personlike than a
very small embryo
A 7 or 8 month old fetus is considerably less personlike than is the
average mature mammal, indeed the average fish

In terms of late stage abortion, should emotional repulsion

take the place of moral reasoning in determining what
should be permitted?
In summation
I think a rational person must conclude that if the right to life
of a fetus is to be based upon its resemblance to a person,
then it cannot be said to have any more right to life than, let
us say, a newborn guppy (which also seems to be capable of
feeling pain), and that a right of that magnitude could never
override a womans right to obtain an abortion, at any stage
in her pregnancy
The Moderate Position
Jane English
The Moderate Position
Jane English states that in the early weeks after conception, a fetus is
very much unlike a person. It is hard to develop these feelings for a set of
genes which doesn't yet have a head, hands, beating heart, responds to
touch or the ability to move by itself .
In the early stages of pregnancy, abortion can hardly be compared to
murder for psychological reasons, but in the latest stages it is
psychologically akin to murder.
Do you agree with what she is saying?
The Moderate Position
Michael Tooley utilizes a parallel with animals.
He claims that it is always permissible to drown newborn kittens and
draws conclusions about infanticide.
He states that it would only be permissible to drown kittens when their
survival would cause some hardship
Perhaps it would be a burden to feed and house six cats or to find other
homes for them
The alternative of letting them starve produces even more suffering than
the drowning.
How do you guys feel about this and do you agree or disagree?
Abortion through a Feminist
Ethics Lens
Susan Sherwin
Feminist Approach to Abortion
The pregnant woman is a subject of principal concern in abortion
Other questions, including ones about accessibility and delivery of
abortion services must also be addressed
Women have pursued abortion under dangerous conditions across
diverse cultures and historical periods
Women as Flower Pots
A woman can be
seen as merely a
fetal container
Is it moral to keep a
woman alive on life
support to be able
to deliver a fetus in
a few months?
Flaws on both Sides
- Conservatives: human life starts at conception, so abortion
is murder. However, not all killing is murder, like
self-defense, it can be justified.
- Liberals: a fetus is not a person until birth, so a woman may
do what she pleases with her body. However, you cant do
what you want with your body if it affects others adversely,
we cant torture/kill animals, for example.
More Issues
- Ongoing argument is where human life begins but there is
no single criterion that can capture personhood and no
line can be drawn.
- If a fetus is a person, abortion could still be ok and if it is
not, it can still be wrong.
- Hence, personhood is almost irrelevant.
- Do you think personhood bears weight in the abortion
Killing Is Not Always Wrong
- Self-defense is an example of killing being justifiable, the
injury inflicted depends on the injury avoided.
- What if the fetus can pose a threat to the mother? What if
the pregnancy just causes a mere inconvenience?
- Much of this is dependent on the effect, the threat to
interests could be wrong, but to well-being and health could
be permissible.
- Abstinence is the way to avoid pregnancy but what if
attackers go out at night and you choose to go out and
you get attacked? Would you not have the right to
- 3rd party: You may kill the attackers, but only if and only
they try to kill you. Like a mother whose life is at stake.
- Can you kill the attackers if they havent done anything to
you but pose an inconvenience?