Abortion - no theories.

HideShow resource information
View mindmap
  • ABORTION
    • CONTEXT
      • Expulsion of the embryo or feotus from the womb before it is able to survive independently. This can occur naturally through miscarraige.
      • 1967 - legalised in England for up to 28 weeks. This was reduced to 24 weeks in 1991 = abortion on demand [two doctors.]
        • Some want this reduced to 22 weeks as due to medical advancements it is possible for a feotus to be born at 23 weeks and survive.
      • 200 000 in England yearly.
    • 1. STATUS OF THE EMBRYO
      • Is defined as biologically human, but is debated whether it is a human being in miniature!
        • Tooley and Singer argue the idea of human potentiality - not human YET but can become one: therefore permitting abortion.
          • Miscarraiges reflect this gap between potential and realisation - this is just how life is. Many have the potential to become olympic athletes but few do.
          • Some reject this: potential - realization is a conscious choice but the foetus does not have this choice.
          • The potentiality argument is highly regarded by many scholars / Supreme Court in America.
    • 2. PERSON-HOOD
      • What is a person? Pro abortion scholars argue that the embryo / feotus is a non person.
        • Personhood = ability to make decisions and be in some way both independent and a social being.
        • John Locke claimed human beings are sentient, have free will and a social nature,
          • Also have the principle of reciprocity: to be human you must be able to give and take in a relationship. A feotus does not hold any of these qualities.
            • CRITIQUE: OF PERSON-HOOD
              • What is the status of those with severe disability? Helen Keller: most famous handicapped person in the world but by John Locke's definition = a non person!
                • Locke: severely disabled still have sentience (unless in a coma.)
                • Singer and Tooley developed Locke's criteria of a person. A feotus has conciousness e.g. pain but cannot understand it. To be a person, you must have self conciousness - an understanding of pain / logical deductions based on experience.
                  • Tooley: the principle of equivalence. If we find it morally justifiable to kill another sentient being (animal) for food / cosmetic testing, why is is not ok to have an abortion?
    • 3. THE STATUS OF THE HUMAN BODY
      • To whom does your body belong? Yourself?
        • So surely the woman can choose whether to have an abortion?
          • Locke agreed: Propert rights - what you own is yours. This includes your body.
          • Christian's disagree: "The Lord gave and only the Lord can take away." - Job. It is not our decision.
        • God?
          • Christian's disagree: "The Lord gave and only the Lord can take away." - Job. It is not our decision.
    • 4. ABORTION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
      • Feminism and the 1948 declaration of human rights [e.g. Greer] were crucial to the legalisation of abortion in many places.
        • Women should have the right to control their own body.
          • Jarvis Thompson used the analogy of the famous violinist. Are we morally obliged to allow our bodies to be used to give another person life?
            • But does the feotus have a right to life?
            • A right might not always be a moral good: we should use abortion sparingly.
    • 5. QUALITY OF LIFE THEORY
      • Most widely used in medical ethics today [terminally ill, disabled, elderly.]
        • Kuhse: also relevant to abortion. Follows the idea of personhood; there are certain qualities that humans must have in order to live meaningful lives. Most important = sentience and self awareness.
          • Abortion is a moral necessity if the foetus does not have the potential for this quality of life. E.g. severe abnormalities.
            • CRITIQUE:
              • No clear definition of quality of life - subjective, no reference point. An able bodied, active, 20 year old perhaps?
              • Paternalistic: assessed by medical professionals not the moral agent.
              • Whose quality of life do we examine? Mother, foetus, family? The definition will differ with each.
    • 6. SANCTITY OF LIFE - Christianity.
      • GENESIS: "God created mankind in his image." and "God saw everything that he had made and it was good." and "The Lord God formed man from the dust in the ground and breathed into him the breath of life."
        • God made humanity special and unique. Sacred. It would therefore be wrong to take life without just cause.
          • However sometimes it is the best of a collection of imperfect moral alternatives.
          • "Before i formed you, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you."
            • CRITIQUE:
              • Singer: the sanctity given to human life is a distorted morality. People find it easier to kill healthy animals for food / test on for cosmetics but won't terminated a severely disabled foetus.
              • Surely the mothers life is more sacred? She has actuality whilst the foetus has only potentiality.
          • 4 key points: God is the creator of life, We are made in the image of God, Taking life is intrinsically evil, Unborn life is to be protected.
    • 7. ENSOUL-MENT
      • This is when the soul enters the foetus and it becomes a human being. When does this occur?
        • Aquinas = 40 days. This is how long Jesus was in the wilderness. No biological evidence.
        • Augustine = 80 days.
        • Pope Innocent III - 13th week, [Lukes gospel, when Elizabeth feels her baby "leap inside her womb" for the first time.]
          • Catholics today = moment of conception. Therefore they are anti abortion.
        • CRITIQUE
          • Many fertilised eggs are conceived but later naturally aborted in miscarraige - what does this say about an omnibenevolent God if each one is already ensouled?
          • No definite time or biological / psychological basis. Would the creation of the nervous system be a better / more obvious stage? From this we could know when sentience occurs.

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Religious Studies resources:

See all Religious Studies resources »See all Ethics resources »