Is Abortion Ethical?

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There are many arguments both in favour and against abortion in ethics. The main argument from those who are against abortion is that it is the killing of an innocent human being. They believe that a fetus has a right to life, and thus abortion is murder. The main argument from those who are in favour of abortion is that the woman should have the right to choose what she does with her body. They argue that the fetus is not a person until it is born, and therefore abortion is not murder.

We talked here previously about the abortion debate, but in this article, we want to go a bit deeper and look at the arguments for and against abortion itself. Since this topic (like most topics nowadays) is often discussed on the basis of beliefs, emotions and outrage rather than actual thought, let us today have a look at the classic arguments in the abortion debate.

Arguments for abortion

The woman should have the right to choose what she does with her body

Those who are pro-choice believe that a woman should have the right to choose what she does with her body. They argue that the fetus is, at least in the beginning of pregnancy, nothing more than another organ of the mother. Therefore, they believe that it should be up to the woman to decide whether or not to abort the pregnancy.

On the other hand, if we believe that that human life begins at conception, then abortion might be seen as an unlawful killing of a human being. Opponents of abortion argue that the fetus is a human being with a right to life.

Those who are pro-choice believe that a woman should have the right to choose what she does with her body. 

We will discuss the problem of when exactly the fetus becomes a human being below; but even if we assume that the fetus is human, we still have to weigh the interests of two humans (the mother and the fetus) against each other.

We also have to consider that the mother has her own life and perhaps the welfare of other, earlier-born children to consider. An unwanted pregnancy can cause the mother to be unable to finish her studies, for example, or to get a job, potentially pushing a whole family into poverty.

It is also the case that, while legal abortions are very safe, illegal abortions are not, and represent a significant health risk for the mother. According to the BBC (with 2019 data from the CDC):

Almost 60% of persons seeking an abortion were in their 20s;
60% had at least one child;
Almost half had the abortion in the first six weeks of pregnancy; and
For 60% it was the first abortion.

So it is not true that abortions will primarily benefit irresponsible teenagers who don’t know how to prevent a pregnancy. Teenagers only account for 9% of all abortions in the US and the majority of clients seeking an abortion already have at least one child.

Judith Jarvis-Thomson’s famous “Unconscious Violinist”

Judith Jarvis Thomson’s famous “Unconscious Violinist” argument is often invoked in debates over abortion. The …

Originally appeared on Daily Philosophy Read More

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