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Philosophical defense of abortion

The abortion debate has remained a highly sensitive issue that has resulted to the liberals and the conservatives locking horns. It has continued to spark a moral and ethical row with some maintaining that it is morally and ethically wrong and hence should be criminalized. On the other hand, there are those that advocate for it to be a matter of individual choice. This is a debate that has dominated the public limelight for the better half of the 20th century. The decision that was reached in the hallmark Roe v Wade ruling, which legalized abortion continues to be dissected, more than thirty years after it was made.

An in-depth look at the existing philosophical debate, arguments and counterarguments, reveals that the arguments that abortion indeed is morally or ethically wrong do not stand; it should be an exercise of a woman’s individual rights. Indeed, the ruling in Roe v Wade confirmed to the Americans the central core of the feminists’ argument in regard to abortion being a preserve of women; a fact that can be evidenced by the increased number of abortions after this landmark court case (Kenneth, 1995).

A woman should have a right to determine the destiny of her pregnancy; she should be able to make this choice without coercion by the state. The decision to terminate a pregnancy through abortion is not tantamount to killing as has been widely claimed by the pro-life activists; it is simply a cessation of the responsibility to sustain the fetus. A critical look at the full process of pregnancy to birth indicates that it is usually a trying and tedious duty. A woman hence should have a prerogative of choosing what to do with it.

The mere fact that it is her body that is used as an avenue for procreation gives her ample rights to abort should she see it fit. This is a basic right that emanates from traditions. Another way of viewing this right can be through donation of organs. It is apparent that to donate or not to donate is an individual choice and no law can compel one to donate an organ against his or her will no matter how worthy the cause. To illegalize abortion merely on perceived moral grounds is tantamount to a forcing a woman to have a compulsory pregnancy.

As Alan (178) concedes, “if she does not choose to be physically involved in the demands of a pregnancy and birth, she should not be compelled to be so against her will. ” A fetus relies and saps the energy of a woman during the pregnancy and way after the birth, this hence means that a woman is subjected to emotional and physical risks and is expected to play an active role in the rearing of such a child. If indeed all this is expected from women, they should be granted the choice to decide the fate of their bodies and their pregnancies.

Abortion gives a woman the independence in choosing personal responsibility. Making sound judgments based on integrity is seen as a preserve of all adults. Women too should be able to choose and execute their plans the way they deem fit, they should be able to make responsible choices in regard to their pregnancies based on the prevailing conditions and in tandem with her future commitments. Having a right to control her reproductive system gives her moral autonomy to make sound plans and commitments. The option of contraceptives, which also priory used to be a controversial issue, is part of this autonomy.

Its failure however does not warrant the subjection of a woman to involuntary pregnancy. Indeed, as a number of scholars have maintained, “the value of fetal life is contingent upon the woman’s free consent and subjective acceptance. ” (David & Peter 265). A woman’s right to terminate or not to terminate a pregnancy is further strengthened by the fact that motherhood should be as a result of individual own will and not mandated by the state. The fetus has a human value as long as the woman regards it as though, it is the woman who determines its life and value.

This hence means that a fetus life and well being are predicated on the woman’s wishes, “Thus fetal interests or fetal rights can never outweigh the woman’s prior interests and rights. ” (David & Peter 265). As prior observed, a pregnancy is a tiresome and a tedious biological and physiological process that requires both immense physical and emotional investment. This hence requires a matching proportion of commitment and this should be subject to free will and will go a long way in imbuing a sense of life and value in the fetus.

If the woman is not in a position to give value to a pregnancy, then it is only prudent that such pregnancy be terminated. (Alan 239) From the utilitarian perspective, abortion should be allowed. The utilitarian principle owes its foundation on the works of early philosophers such as Joseph Stuart Mill. To the utilitarians, for a certain issue to be considered acceptable, its maximization of social or economic utility vis-a-vis the perceived costs must be ascertained. It should only be allowed if it is established that it stands for the greater good.

(Harry, Earl & James, 2004) The benefits of abortion to the society have been widely evaluated. Prior to the legalization, the existing statistics reveal that there were a high number of deaths as a result of illegal abortions conducted in the back street clinics. Nancy (67), brings out this by noting on how the deaths were skewed to the minority women in America, she observes “in 1965, in New York, for example, although there were 4 abortion deaths for every 100,000 live births for white women; for non-white women there were 56 abortion deaths per 100, 000,” This number decreased by over 70% after the legalization of abortion (Rayna 142).

This is however not the only benefit noted. There is also the psychological factor where women were more relieved from the burden of unwanted pregnancies and reduced number of abandoned children reducing societal and government pressure. Indeed abortion legalization stands for the greater good of the society and in line with utilitarianism, it should be allowed. There are various arguments that have been forwarded especially focusing on the morality of abortion and also the right to life of the fetus as well as the mother’s responsibility.

Indeed this raises a pertinent debate on the principle of individual rights. Abortion disregards the right of the fetus to life. It is an unjust practice that is tantamount to killing for violates the fetus moral right of existence. Personhood begins at conception. This argument further observes that a woman has a moral duty and responsibility to safe guard the welfare of the fetus. She is the avenue through which the fetus is to be nurtured into existence and hence should take all precaution to ensure this.

Abortion is a termination of life and should be avoided. This is a stand that has been presented by conservatives and is indeed supported by the various conservative religious organizations the Catholic Church being at the forefront. They claim that although a woman has a moral right to control her body this is not sufficient ground for abortion. Abortion merely because women have this right is equating the fetus to a parasite that plagues and feasts on the mothers energies or a cancerous growth that should be removed at will.

Indeed abortion raises moral and ethical issues. Termination of a pregnancy at will is something that impedes on practices that are embedded on our culture and those that oppose it have raised valid points. It is not yet ascertained at which stage life begins, whether at conception or at birth to an extent that abortion at an advanced stage might be referred to as a form of murder. Indeed a woman has some degree of responsibility towards the fetus and should take dutiful care to bring it into existence.

However, this does not mean that the right to take this decision in consideration of the prevailing economic, environment al and social conditions should be taken away. Abortion is a moral right of every woman and criminalizing it impedes on their enjoyment of this right. The deontological argument on dutiful responsibility cannot hence be used to deny women this important right to make their autonomous and responsible decision. References Alan S. (1997) Sex, love, and friendship: studies of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love, 1977-1992. Published by Rodopi.

David O. A. , Peter R. G. (2005) Doing right and being good: Catholic and Protestant readings in Christian ethics. Liturgical Press. Harry J. G. , Earl W. S. , James S. (2004) Ethics: contemporary readings. Routledge. Kenneth L. K (1995). Law’s Promise, Law’s Expression: Visions of Power in the Politics of Race, Gender, and Religion. Yale University Press. Nancy E. (2008) The Reproductive Rights Reader: Law, Medicine, and the Construction of Motherhood. NYU Press. Rayna R. (1999) Testing women, testing the fetus: the social impact of amniocentesis in America. Routledge.

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