Abortion- status of embryo & personhood
Philosophers Peter S and Michael Tooley say the embryo is not a human yet, it has potentiality but without that expectation it will become human you can abort it
- Some may it is wrong to make a comparison between failure to realise potential and the prevention of potentiality
- Rejecting the potentiality for the embryo is not personal judgement
Personhood- ability to make decisions and be a social being
- Locke claimed we are sentient which gives us the ability to make choices and have a social nature
- Principle of reciprocity- giving and taking from a relationship (SENTIENT BEINGS HAVE THIS)
- Locke says foetus' dont have this. They are not rational and lack conscience
- Weakness- Disabled people are like this, are they not sentient?
- Strength- Even those with severe disability have an awareness of the situation.
Bentham- even animals are sentient
Singer & Tooley- personhoold scale is on consciousness. The foetus may experience pain but not understand it.
- Principle of moral equvilance- if a human finds it morally okay to kill a sentient being with the same characteristics- it is okay
Theories on abortion
Status of human body
- Locke says the concept of body ownership comes from personhood
- Without the right to owning your body, personhood would not happen
- Body is there for self improvement because of REASON. Woman had the right to have a child.
Quality of life theory
- Helga Khuse says certain qualities like sentience and awareness make meaningful lives
- Disputes on what defines QofL
- QofL can be asessed by proffesionals, but is this right?
- Arguements on whose QofL is being assesed. The wider population or the individual?
Sancity of Life theory
- Humans made in the image of God
- Very special 'breathed into his nostrils the breath of life'. Human life is sacred
- Some Christians see personhood when the foetus is physically independant.
- Anti abortion christians see all abortion as a sin. 'Formed you...'
- Criticsm- all life, even animal life is sacred. The mothers life is sacred.
Ensolument & Liberal Christians
Ensolument- When foetus takes on human characteristics
- Some say 40 days (Jesus' 40 d/n time)
- Quickening- when num feels foetus
- RC say ensolument happens at conception
Criticsms- only dependant on ensolument concept.
- Some reject ensolument
- Many fertilised eggs concieved and then aborted naturally- does this show God's omni benevolence?
- How can we know the precise moment of ensolument?
Abortion in Liberal Christian thought
- Joseph Fletcher said abortion can be the neccesary evil as it depends on the situation and the application of love
- Dependant on the amount of agape
- Criticsm- how can quality/quantity of agape be measured? It is subjective. The love criteria is too simplistic. What about the later consequences?
Nature is organic and made up on inter related organs working towards eudomonia
- Procreation has function, purpose and end
- The end is creation but also universal eudomonia as mother feels satisfied, society also benifits.
- Nature creates foetus and when personhood is realised the foetus fulfils its telos.
- To break it is wrong
Abortion is wrong because it breaks 2 of the primary precepts
- Preservation of life
- Is there a teleological framework to life? We should be concerned with now and not the illusionary future.
- Does the womans right to her body outweigh the foetus' right to life?
- Do not treat anyone as a means to an ends
- Principle of universalisability- act in accordance with maxims of a universally legaslative member of a merely possible kingdom of ends
- Consider duty ,reject happiness and love for moral decision making.
- Place importance of the individual and immortality of the soul
Preserve life- it is a moral duty to preserve life.
- This should be carried out unless the mothers life is in danger
Principle of Extreme duty- brining up a child in hard circumstances is against instinct.
- Happiness plays no part. The woman has a duty to her husband and family
- No love or sympathy, even in **** you should do your duty
- Critics say life is not an endurance test.
Universalisability- Abortion fails to test universalisability
Means to an ends- do not treat foetus as a means to an ends regardless of situation
- Utilitarians are divided on what they say
- They all agree the consequences of an act are vital yet there is no absolute value on human life and if abortion benifits the maximum people
Preference utilitarians- What is in the best interest of those involved
Rule -Want a rule of thumb
- Takes into account the number of consequences from abortion
- Must consider the physical/pyschological effects, long term effects if abortion were/were not applied
- Must take doctors/nurses accounts to maximise benifits
- Must also considere the population and the welfare of the population
Criticsm- It is impossible to get a rule of thumb on abortion
Act - Prefer to judge each case on merit (criticsm- can't asess long term benifits & rejects HC which is about the happiness for a max of people)
- Peter Singer- Preference said unwanted pregnancies would give theory of replacibility where general happiness would advance. Strenghts- general good, status of foetus as not yet a person
- Weakness- not possible to define personhood, foetus has right to happiness as well. Large rates of abortion send out signals every year that human life is not valuable