Abortion Final Paper

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Abortion Final Paper


Abortion presents a major dilemma in the world today in that the application of different ethical perspectives concludes differently when it comes to abortion. The debates rotate around two major groups including the pro-life and pro-choice. The pro-life group argue that abortion is a murder since life begins at conception thus making abortion morally wrong. On the other hand, the pro-choice group argues that life begins at birth and thus women should have a right to choose what happens to their bodies. Scientifically, there is no procedure to prove when life starts (Marquis, 2007). While abortion is a murder, a woman will have to face the consequences of giving birth which gives her a right to make a choice. However, leaving morality at the hands of individuals can be disastrous but so is forcing women to keep unwanted pregnancies.

Key points

Supporters of abortion argue that a woman has a right to make her own decision concerning abortion based on individual preferences on morality and live with the repercussions and no one and certainly not the government should make a choice for her (Jali, 2001). Without the choice to abort, women are denied the ability to participate in social, economic and political wellbeing. Johnson (2008) argues that the ethics of abortion are about family relationships and right attitudes making abortion justifiable on the grounds of decency, stewardship and responsible creation. The moderate perceptive argues that abortion is justifiable during rape or when the pregnancy threatens the life of the woman (Lopez, 2012). Marguis (2007) argues that while women have a right to their body, a fetus also has rights and the right to life held by fetuses overrides the right of women to control their bodies.

 Key terms

Abortion is the expulsion of a fetus from the uterus. It can either be spontaneous or induced. While spontaneous is not intentional, induced abortion which is the concern of this paper is as a result of deliberate interference to terminate a pregnancy (Jali, 2001). The fetus in the case of this paper is an unborn baby. Equality means the equal participation in economic, social and political wellbeing of a country. Without the right of choice in reproductive life, women are denied equality. Autonomy is the ability to make own decisions and live with the consequences of the decision. A woman deciding whether to abort or not is autonomous. Bodily integrity is the fact that the human body is inviolable. Terming abortion as illegal is an intrusion of a woman bodily integrity. Value of life is the economic and social value that quantifies the benefit of avoiding a fatality. Abortion denies the society the value that the unborn baby would have brought. Self-determination is the process of controlling owns life. Women should be allowed to have control over their life. Decency are the things a child require to lead a standard life. A woman has a responsibility to ensure children live a decent life. Stewardship is the act of taking care of a child which is bestowed on women. Responsible creation the act of being responsible in the bearing of children.

Controversies involved in the dilemma.

The prolonged disagreement in this dilemma is between when life begins. The ethical disagreement is between the rights of an unborn baby and the rights of the women or the value of life versus self-determination. The pro-choice camp has maintained that life begins at birth and thus, the fetus is not a living human being which eradicates the argument of the fetus having rights. A non-living organism has no rights. At such, a woman has a right to dispose of the fetus as a non-living thing. Self-determination requires that each human being is in control of their own life. Based on this principle, it is argued that having a child interferes with the life of a woman and thus she has the right to be in control of what happens and live with the consequences. Denying women self-determination undermines their equality, autonomy and bodily integrity (Borgmann & Weiss, 2003). Furthermore, in the ethical argument against abortion, people fail to consider the decency, stewardship and responsible creation as justifications for abortion. If a woman lacks the ability to offer the unborn child a decent life, is not capable of taking care of the child or wants to be responsible in bearing children, then it is enough justification for abortion.

The pro-life camp on their part argues that life begins at conception and thus a fetus is a human being with full rights. At such, abortion thus denies the unborn baby the opportunity to fulfil their potential through value of life. Again, if life begins at birth, a fetus has life and thus has a right to enjoy that life which makes abortion a murder. This camp agrees that a woman has autonomy and control over her body but denying the unborn baby their value of life is not a justification for one’s control of own body. The right to life supersedes all other rights and murder is considered the worst crime. So, why should a woman commit the worst crime just to have control over own body? Furthermore, if the women had control over her body, then she should not have conceived in the first place.  While women have the ability to control their body and avoid conceiving, the fetus has not control over their fate. Thus, the right of the fetus supersedes the right of the woman in this case.

In the argument about when life starts, Jali (2001), argues that while the genetic basis of a fetus is determined during conception, some development has to occur for the conceptus to be termed as human. Life thus begins after conception but before birth. This argument, however, would agree with the pro-life view in that all, abortions are done way after conception which means development has occurred forming a potential human and this presents a clear-cut reason for not destroying it. The pro-choice camp argues that the pro-life camp is trying to undermine the equality, autonomy and bodily integrity of the woman. The pro-life camp on the other that argues given a woman has autonomy and bodily integrity, science has provided ways to avoid pregnancy, and the failure of women to respect their autonomy in preventing conception is not a justification for abortion.

Original point of view

Life begins after conception but before birth which makes abortion a murder. It is agreeable that women have equality, autonomy, bodily integrity and should ensure children have a decent life, stewardship and practice responsible creation. The fact that these women have all these rights is an indication that they should avoid pregnancy. If a woman does not intend to conceive, then she should respect her bodily integrity and be self-determined. However, realizing one has all these rights only after an unwanted pregnancy cannot be used as a justification for abortion. A woman has the ability to avoid conceiving, but the fetuses have no ability to control or protect their rights. Women cannot then continue hiding behind the same rights they disregard when conceiving to justify abortion.

Kant’s Categorical Imperative

Kant argued that moral judgements are not an expression of feeling rather imperatives and can thus be dealt with using reasoning. Things that are considered good according to Kant are only good if they are followed by the goodwill of the person doing them. This is based on the idea that it is goodwill that direct people to do what they should do rather than what will benefit them. The basis of moral action is duty and acting for duty gives an action moral value. There is thus a categorical imperative that binds all people in that it is acknowledged by reason and every rational human being accept the obligation to follow reason. Kant in his theory developed two principles.

The first principle was that “Act as if the maxim of your action were to become by your will a universal Law of Nature (to be obeyed by everyone)” (Ruggiero, 2012, p. 150). This indicates that we should only act in a way that we will others to act always. Thus, if we can’t wish that other people act in a similar way we act every time, we should not act in this way. He second principle was that “Always treat every human being, including yourself, as an end in himself and never merely as a means to an end” (Ruggiero, 2012, p. 150). Thus, we have a moral duty not to use the humanity of other people or our humanity as a means to an end. Thus, the right of another person cannot be supposed to treat that person as a means to an end.

For abortion, the use of the first principle would mean that if abortion was to be allowed, then it should be willed that abortion will be done every time a woman becomes pregnant as a universal law of nature. If disallowed, then never should abortion occur. Kant does not accept the idea of an action being right and at the same time, not right in some circumstances. In this sense, if abortion is considered a right, then it should remain a right as a natural law. However, if it is considered not a right as a universal law of nature, then under no circumstances should this universalism be broken. This would mean that abortion is either right or wrong and no circumstance can change this.

The second principle, however, asserts that humanity cannot be used as means to an end. Research has shown that people commit abortion because they do not want to keep the child for specific reasons. Taking the example of one willing to abort because she is not financially ready to take care of the child, abortion is used as a means to avoid taking care of the child. All abortions are thus used as a means to achieve a specific objective based on the reasons for abortion. As argued by Kant, under no circumstances can abortion be used as a means to end which boils down to abortion is wrong since it is always used to achieve specific objectives?

Ethics of consequences (Teleology)

Ethics of consequences is yet another method that can be applied in solving a dilemma and was developed by Mills. His Utilitarianism essay focused on ethics and argued that happiness or pleasure is the standard of moral judgment. While Mills admitted that some pleasures have a high degree that others, he argued that a judge who has experienced all pleasures would ultimately prefer the higher degree pleasure than the lower degree pleasure. Thus, the decision whether an act is right or wrong is based on the consequences of the act and people should choose the act that maxims the good consequence (Ruggiero, 2012). However, in the case of hedonism, happiness should be maximized. Thus, the act that maximize inner happiness based on individual judgement is the right act.

In the case of abortion, it is arguable that abortion has different consequences on different people. For people who want to abort but are denied the chance, they can fall into depression or other psychological problems. On the other hand, if abortion is legal, there are some women who would be forced to abort for different reasons against their will. For such women, their inner happiness can be affected. A good example is that in the developing country where access to information is limited, husbands can easily force their wives to abort based on their need to evade the responsibility to take care of the child. If abortion was legal, it would be easy to force the wife but the wife may not be happy. Thus, whether abortion is right or wrong will be based on the inner feelings of the person committing the act (Ruggiero, 2012).

Preferred method

I prefer Kant’s Categorical Imperative in that it provides a categorical way of resolving the dilemma. The ethics of consequences does not offer a direct way to determine whether abortion is right or wrong rather leaves the decision to individual people. However, if morals are left to individual preferences, then there can be standard ways of determining what is moral or immoral. Kant, however, provides a comparative method that requires actions to either be moral or immoral and not both. Morally, actions are either classified as immoral or moral, and the society is keen not to infer other conclusions based on circumstances.  Thus, while Kant’s idea does not fully address the abortion dilemma based on the happenings of the modern world, it does concur with how society operated historically.


The abortion debate rages on in different corners of the world. While different countries and states have different laws and policies guiding abortion, the different arguments presented by different camps present a dilemma on the moral judgment of abortion. Both ends of the argument have consequences, and the decision on which argument is right or wrong is based on how one approaches the problem. However, my personal opinion is that abortion denies the unborn child their right and the right of a woman to control their body is superseded by the right of the fetus which makes abortion a murder. There are different ways for women to exert their right to control their body, such as avoiding conceiving, but there is no other way for the fetus to exert its right.



Borgmann, C., & Weiss, C. (2003). Beyond apocalypse and apology: A moral defence of abortion. Perspectives on sexual and reproductive health35(1), 40-43.

Jali, M. N. (2001). Abortion-a philosophical perspective. Curationis24(4), 25-31.

Johnstone, M. J. (2008). Abortion and the politicisation of conscience. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal16(6), 21.

Lopez, R. (2012). Perspectives on Abortion: Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, and What Lies in between. European Journal of Social Sciences27(4), 511-517.

Marquis, D. (2007). An argument that abortion is wrong. Ethical theory: An anthology, 439-450.

Ruggiero, V. R. (2012). Thinking critically about ethical issues (8th ed.). New York, NY: Mc-Graw Hill.