Slides in this set
What is Abortion?
It is the deliberate termination of pregnancy
One of the most controversial issue: "When does the
transition from fertilized egg to human occur?"
Some believe it occurs at birth, when it can survive
on its own (viability), when they have the capacity to
feel pleasure/pain and when mother can feel the
foetus move (quickening).
Objections are that the ability for foetus to survive
relies on medical technology, even premature babies
can survive in incubators for example.…read more
Human Being vs Person
Its difficult to draw the line between the definition of person and
Human being- species but a person is different
Philosophers like Singer believe that the definition of a person is
"autonomous, self conscious, rational."
It can be argued therefore that embryo does not have these
characteristics so killing an embryo is not the same as killing a
Moreover Singer argues that due to these premises, the embryo has
no interest. So there is nothing to be weighed against the mothers
In Puzzle of Ethics, John Gallagher argues that "if the embryo is part X
and part James, there is a time when it is partly X and James"
At what point the embryo gains full human status is yet unclear…read more
Life of mother vs child
Mother faces physiological and emotional changes and it puts her under enormous
stress with health risks
Mothers with serious problems will face difficult decisions especially when taking
medicines as it could also harm the child. This is the unpalatable reality; what's good for
the mother could harm a baby so interests conflict
The interests of the mother and child must be considered. In the example of ectopic
pregnancy both the mother and child will die if child is left to develop
If foetus threatens mother by increasing risk, abortion becomes a defensive measure
against these dangers. For example if the mother has severe hearth condition, her
condition will worsen if the pregnancy continues...
But doesn't the baby has a right for self defence against the mother...who decides
which life should be preserved?
Double Effect is a way of justifying abortion- a medical procedure to protect the
mothers life also indirectly lead to the termination of the pregnancy. In this case death
of an innocent is an unfortunate side effect…read more
Utilitarianism can be applied to abortion- whatever
produces the most happiness for the greatest
number is the right action.
Singer argues that foetuses are incapable of feeling
pleasure/pain so only the mother is emotionally
affected. Therefore it is not morally wrong to abort.
Many philosophers argue that it is a `cold theory';
does not take in profound nature of raising a child
This theory can justify aborting a foetus in 8 months
of pregnancy…read more
Special cases: Rape
Thomson suggested that in these cases, abortion can
Analogy- plugged into violinist and you must remain
there for 9 months otherwise he will die
You didn't want this to happen and wasn't your fault
so you could terminate foetus' life
However it can be argued that the foetus has a right
to live and this wasn't his fault either.…read more