Abortion has for years been a volatile and contentious issue in the country. It has been argued out in courts of law, preached about on pulpits, and uncountable street demonstrations have been held for and against the practice. Regardless of all this, the issue remains divisive politically, religiously, and socially. The public outroar as well as the massive support that the Governor of Alabama received from different quarters following the signing of the Abortion Ban Bill is a testament to this division (Blinder). Often, the anti-abortion campaign is spread as a political or religious agenda. Since the country is neither politically nor religiously homogenous, this approach has not always borne fruits. However, propagating the message on morality grounds can be effective since morality is a shared trait and pursuit of all citizens. Abortion is immoral for various reasons. First, abortion is taken as the act of killing, which is immoral. Secondly, it can be viewed as the murder of an actual person, hence depriving them of their future. Third, behaviors that can harm the unborn baby are considered immoral, and hence the same line of thought should be used in the abortion discussion. Therefore, the act of abortion goes against several moral standards that the country seeks to uphold. Regardless of these facts, the immorality of abortion has not received sufficient attention in the literature. Often, the anti-abortion narrative is seen as an irrational religious dogma or a result of confused philosophical arguments. In this light, this paper seeks to prove that abortion is immoral and should be fought against by any citizen who believes in morality.
Killing Is Wrong
For years, anti-abortionists have made attempts to portray abortion in the same light as murder. This school of thought holds that life begins at conception, and fetuses possess characteristics exhibited by adults such as the genetic code, and abortion is akin to murder (Lowe and Page 133). On their side, pro-choicers argue that fetuses are not persons/social beings, and hence abortion does not amount to wrongful killing. Regarding moral principles, anti-abortionists claim that taking human life is prima facie wrong. Pro-choicers, on their end, assert that it is only prima facie wrong to take the life of a person. According to them, being a person offers one an intrinsic moral worth, which fetuses do not necessarily have. While the issue of abortion is highly divisive, as mentioned in the introduction, there is a consensus that killing is morally wrong. The sanctity of life is among the most important moral standards in the country (Burrows 9). Though ethics in society may change, moral standards do not. Therefore, the fact that murdering an innocent being is morally wrong cannot change even if society deems it acceptable in some circumstances. For years, scholars on the ethics of abortion, including Mary Anne Warren, Michael Tooley, Joel Feinberg, and Philip Devine have pegged their arguments on the question of whether a fetus is a person/being, whose life would be wrong to end. Philosophically, it is not possible to determine when personhood starts. Therefore, it would be wrong to assume that a fetus is not a person (Hendricks 250).
Looking at the issue from this perspective, therefore, the life lost through an abortion can be equated to a life lost by, say, an adult homicide victim. As such, if killing a competent adult human being cannot be justified, neither should abortion. Considering that a fetus is a person, the medical principles of non-maleficence and justice should also apply. Using these principles, any procedure carried out with the intent of killing the unborn child is ethically wrong (Blackshaw and Rodger 178). Such procedures violate the principles even when they are meant to achieve a certain beneficent end. Killing does not only affect the friends and relatives of the victim but also has a huge effect on the victim. It leads to the loss of a future, which is among the greatest losses that one can experience.
Deprivation of Futures
Other than taking away their life, abortion also deprives the unborn children of their future. Since fetuses are considered as persons, according to the argument made above, their futures consist of projects, experiences, and activities, which resemble those of adults. Therefore, by denying the unborn child a chance to live, one not only show disrespect for life but also exhibits selfishness. Those who support abortion frequently give the example of pregnancies acquired through rape (Perry et al. 395). While rape is morally wrong, and its victims suffer life-long trauma, which can be exacerbated if they fall pregnant, it should not be used to support another wrong (Ntontis 517). Rather, efforts should be directed towards addressing it rather than covering it by encouraging abortion. Society should seek to address the cause, which is rape, rather than legalize abortion.
Donald Marquis advanced the deprivation of futures argument in his essay, Why Abortion is Wrong. However, his position has been opposed by different scholars for various reasons. Particularly, opponents have argued that his stand ignores the point of view and rights of the mother (Sauchelli 199). They have also held that the argument understates the various explanatory resources of the competing personhood theory. However, while the objections constitute a powerful case, they do not deconstruct the claim that actual persons possess a valuable future. As such, the argument that abortion deprives the unborn children of a valuable future, and hence is immoral stands. However, it is important to note that Marquis outlines instances where abortion would not be considered to be immoral. For instance, he argues that abortion can be allowed when the fetus has a likelihood of being handicapped or defective if born. According to the scholar, such defects would affect the ability of the child to have future experiences.
The Impairment Argument
Science has proven that some behaviors during pregnancy can hurt the unborn baby. For instance, the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. The condition adversely affects the life of the child, as well as their ability to have and enjoy future experiences as mentioned above. For example, they exhibit poor coordination, delayed cognitive, social, and motor development, poor judgment, as well as auditory and visual problems (Gupta et al. 1594). Owing to these defects, alcoholism during pregnancy is largely considered immoral. Borrowing from the same line of thought, Perry Hendricks argues that killing the fetus causes more impairment than alcohol (B. P. Blackshaw 723). His argument is based on the impairment principle. According to this principle, if it is wrong to inflict a certain level of impairment on an organism, inflicting a more severe impairment on the organism is also wrong (Crummett 214). As such, he holds that abortion is immoral.
This argument deviates from the debate on whether a fetus is a person or not. Since society agrees that harming the unborn baby through the consumption of alcohol is morally wrong, then it should also be agreed that abortion, which causes greater harm, is immoral. However, his argument has been opposed on the grounds that fetal alcohol syndrome and abortion do not cause the same type of impairment. Also, some scholars have argued that some of the clauses of the impairment principle are not met in ordinary pregnancies. Critics further argue that it is more burdensome to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term than to refrain from excessive drinking (Crummett). The fact that Hendricks' argument does not make any effort to prove whether a fetus is a person or not further justifies the critics' stand that abortion is permissible. However, since society generally agrees that the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is wrong due to its ability to harm the unborn baby, abortion should also be considered to be wrong since it causes greater harm.
This paper has used various reasons to prove the immorality of abortion. First, abortion has been compared to killing. To this end, since society considers the killing of adults to be immoral, abortion, which is the killing of unborn children who exhibit characteristics exhibited by adults, should also be seen as wrong. Secondly, the paper has used Marquis' work to show that abortion robs the unborn children of a valuable future and hence is immoral. The loss suffered when one is deprived of their future is greater than the loss that friends and relatives experience the following death of a loved one. Finally, the paper used the impairment argument to prove that abortion is just as immoral as the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. Though the battle against this immoral practice is still far from over, the recently enacted legislation seeking to outlaw abortion is a sign that this country still believes in morality, the one thing that is held by all human beings and Americans.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Blackshaw, Bruce P. "The impairment argument for the immorality of abortion: a reply." Bioethics 33.6 (2019): 723-724. <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bioe.12576>.
Blackshaw, Bruce Philip and Daniel Rodger. "Questionable benefits and unavoidable personal beliefs: defending conscientious objection for abortion." Journal of Medical Ethics 46.3 (2020): 178-182. <https://jme.bmj.com/content/46/3/178.abstract>.
Blinder, Alan. "Alabama Governor Signs Abortion Bill. Here’s What Comes Next." 15 May 2019. The New York Times. 13 July 2019. <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/15/us/alabama-abortion-facts-law-bill.html>.
Burrows, Ken. "The Sanctity of Human Life Act." The Humanist 77.5 (2017): 9. <http://search.proquest.com/openview/3eefd0c2b4f932e1ef7cea77bbbd1db2/1.pdf?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=35529>.
Crummett, D. "Violinists, Demandingness, and the Impairment Argument Against Abortion." Bioethics 34.2 (2020): 214-220. <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bioe.12699>.
Gupta, Keshav K., Vinay K. Gupta and Tomohiro Shirasaka. "An update on fetal alcohol syndrome—pathogenesis, risks, and treatment." Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 40.8 (2016): 1594-1602. <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/acer.13135>.
Hendricks, Perry. "Even if the fetus is not a person, abortion is immoral: The impairment argument." Bioethics 33.2 (2019): 245-253. <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bioe.12533>.
Lowe, Pam and Sarah-Jane Page. "Rights-based claims made by UK anti-abortion activists." Health and Human Rights 21.2 (2019): 133. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6927388/>.
Ntontis, Evangelos. "Antiabortion Rhetoric and the Undermining of Choice: Women's Agency as Causing “Psychological Trauma” Following the Termination of a Pregnancy." Political Psychology 41.3 (2020): 517-532. <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/pops.12634>.
Perry, Rachel, et al. "Prevalence of rape-related pregnancy as an indication for abortion at two urban family planning clinics." Contraception 91.5 (2015): 393-397. <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010782415000335>.
Sauchelli, Andrea. "The futurelikeours argument, animalism, and mereological universalism." Bioethics 32.3 (2018): 199-204. <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bioe.12417>.
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