In this paper, I will argue that abortion is morally permissible and the argument on the immorality of abortion is essentially untenable. The essay will utilize the views of several authors who have contributed to the topic in the recent past. Most of these views are published in books and in academic journals. Of note are the views of Marquis, who has argued that abortion is immoral for various reasons (51). The supporting views are mainly from Ginsburg who takes time to demerit the premise that human life starts at conception (48). The argumentative essay will lay out both supporting and opposing arguments in a bid to formulate a wholesome argument.
The research question, in this case, is if abortion is an immoral practice as portrayed by its opponents. The resulting thesis is that the legality of abortion can be supported from a morality point of view. The paper will concentrate on the common inconsistencies in the arguments against abortion. Most of the opposition towards the pro-choice stance is based on the premise that a fetus is a human life that has the same rights as living beings. The essay will take a considerable amount of time to expound on this premise and its shortcomings. Other common arguments include the fact that a mother’s right to life trounces all other assumptions. Consequently, mothers should be allowed to make informed choices without being intimidated on moral grounds.
Abortion is a controversial topic in the United States and the rest of the world in general. There are various subtopics in the argument surrounding abortion including birth control, the legality of the practice, religion, human rights, and the sanctity of life among others. In recent times, the debate on abortion has also taken a divisive stance whereby some advocacy groups and political outfits have vehemently defended their positions. In popular media, the debate is often crafted in line with morality and an individuals’ ability to make a choice; pro-life versus pro-choice. Both proponents and opponents of abortion reckon that morality is a key issue in this debate. Opponents of this practice oppose it on the premise that a fetus has the same stature as that of a living human being. On the other hand, proponents point out that the premise that a fetus is a human life is flawed. In this paper, the argument will be in support of the morality of abortion. Consequently, the paper will support the legality of abortion from a moral standpoint.
The people who oppose abortion mainly do it using the argument that abortion is a crime. This argument is supported by the premise that a fetus has the same right to life just as fully formed human beings do. According to this school of thought, life starts at conception. Nevertheless, this argument is self-contradicting in its bid to paint abortion as immoral. For example, it would be tricky to identify the exact moment when a fetus becomes a human being. It is important to note that some birth-control mechanisms such as emergency contraceptives inhibit the reproduction of fertilized eggs. Concentrating the abortion debate on the premise that a fetus is also a human being raises several complications. For instance, basing the whole abortion debate on whether a fetus is a human being is unsatisfactory and subject to technical errors. The proponents of abortion can easily dispute this argument by claiming that a fetus only becomes a human being after it has been born. Consequently, it is not enough to argue the immorality of abortion using a disputable notion.
A central premise in the abortion debate is the mother’s right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy full-term or terminate it before it is due (Jelen 223). On the other hand, even if the argument about the fetus’ right to life is valid, it interferes with the mother’s rights. Opponents of abortion argue that when a mother interferes with the progress of a fetus, she is infringing on the rights of another human being. The main issue with this line of thinking is that it would be improbable for a fetus to exist without its mother. However, the opposing argument is true because a mother continues to thrive without the fetus. One proponent of the morality of abortion equates the mother’s lack of choice to a scenario where a musician’s life is taken over by an audience member (Boonin 92). Just because a musician and an audience member have a connection and their lives are symbiotic, it is not moral to overrule the rights of the singer. The symbiosis of the relationship between a mother and a fetus favors the former in an outright manner. It would be immoral would be to override the rights of someone in favor of a life that is not fully formed (Boonin 109). It would also be difficult for opponents of abortion to forward the argument of unborn babies being wholesome if their survival is dependent on that of a parallel entity.
As Marquis points out, the premise of a fetus’ right to life is quickly done away with in the event that pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life (51). The immorality of abortion is often supported by the fact that both a child and its mother have an equal right to life. However, it appears that the fetus’ right to life is partial because it can be sacrificed to save the mother’s life. This peculiar conundrum raises the question of whether some lives are more equal than others. Morality is the key issue in this abortion argument. Consequently, it would be hard to sustain this morality argument when some human lives are being prioritized over others. The immorality of abortion can only be arguable in instances where the lives of both the mother and child are considered to be equal. For instance, emergency termination of pregnancies when a mother’s life is in danger would also be immoral.
Most anti-abortion campaigners like to use the phrase ‘right to life’ in their arguments and agitations (Jecker 19). Nevertheless, the right to life as outlined by opponents of abortion tends to contradict other natural rights. People have the right to use their bodies in any way they deem necessary. It would be prudent to question why this human right does not extend to people’s choice to carry a pregnancy full term. Although opponents of abortion would argue that all rights come with responsibilities, they also claim that the matter of choice does not apply to this issue. According to this school of thought, abortion only means that a person is irresponsible and/or immoral. This generalized argument interferes with a myriad of other human rights including denying people the chance to change their minds. Eventually, the premise of theright to life’ is used to interfere with the rights of others.
The element of ‘killing’ is continuously brought up in the argument against abortion (Ginsburg 33). This argument goes further to state that an aborted child is denied future opportunities. Therefore, the argument is that abortion is immoral because it denies organisms future prospects as both social beings and biological entities. This argument might sound convincing but it is largely a one-sided argument. For instance, this line of thought is undermined by the fact that the prospects of any fetus only become independent from that of the mother at birth and not at conception. Up until the time of birth, the prospects of any organism are intertwined with those of the mother. For example, if the mother starves or lacks oxygen, the baby suffers the same fate. In some conservative societies, it is an offense to have a child out of wedlock. The fate of the mother could be altered by having a child. The argument that abortion can change the future prospects of a child appears to ignore those of the mother. A mother’s chance of having a good life can be significantly diminished if she is denied the right to procure an abortion. The moral approach is to ensure people are given maximum chances to better their lives instead of dictating their choices.
This essay lays out arguments that prove that abortion is moral. All these arguments indicate that those who argue against the morality of abortion do so under flimsy prepositions. The argument that life starts at conception is self-defeating in the end. Furthermore, the right to life appears to assign different values to the mother and the baby. Eventually, the prospects of a mother and a child only become separate when the child is born and not when the baby is in the womb.
Boonin, David. A Defense of Abortion. Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Ginsburg, Faye. Contested Lives: The Abortion Debate in an American Community. University of California Press, 2008.
Jecker, Nancy. Bioethics: An Introduction to the History, Methods, and Practice. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2007.
Jelen, Ted. “Respect for Life, Sexual Morality, and Opposition to Abortion.” Review of Religious Research, vol. 2, no. 1, 2004, pp. 220-231.
Marquis, Don. “Why Abortion is Immoral.” Bioethics: An Anthology, vol. 2, no. 1, 2006, pp. 51-52.