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Why Abortion is Immoral
Abortion involves the loss of fetus and consequently loss of a future human being. It can only be justified in circumstances where the life of the mother is in danger and the consequences of failing to abort are great (Marquis 194).
Marquis identifies two accounts that make killing wrong. The first account is the discontinuation account whereby killing automatically terminates life and discontinues the experience of living to the victim. The second account is the desire account, whereby killing interferes with the fulfillment of strong fundamental desire necessary for any other desire to be fulfilled (195). This is compounded by the fact that it is morally wrong to kill people who have little or no desire to live. It is equally wrong to kill the unconscious, the sleeping, those who are tired of living and even those who are suicidal. A fetus lacks desire to live and this makes abortion to be wrong (Marquis 195). People desire to live because they value what life has to offer. Furthermore the goodness of life is not secondary to people's desire for it because if it were so; the pain of premature death would be easily replaced with appropriate desire (Marquis 196). Despite the fact that fetuses are not in a position to value their future and their future may not be valuable to them, it is important to note that the future of a fetus is valuable to other people (Marquis 198).
Support of abortion on the basis that an entity cannot possess the right to life unless it has the desire for its continued existence can easily be disapproved by the fact that failure of an individual to have interest in something does not mean that the individual does not have a right to it (Marquis199). Similarly, Bansen's argument that a fetus lacks sentience, it cannot be wronged and cannot be a victim even if aborted is equally disapproved by the fact that fetuses have prospects and can be victims when aborted because they are deprived of their future and their prospects (Marquis 200).
In view of issues discussed in this essay, the author insists that abortion is not different from killing, a practice that deprives the victim of a future-like ours. Fetuses possess a future and property that makes killing of adult human beings wrong, it follows without saying that abortion is ethically wrong (Marquis 201). Use of contraceptives cannot be equated to abortion because they only prevent fertilization and conception from taking place but this does not result to any form of killing (Marquis 201).
Why Most Abortions Are Not Wrong
Some people feel that decision to procure an abortion lies squarely on the pregnant woman because she is the one bearing the burden of unwanted pregnancy, while other people prefer keeping abortion safe and legal because of dangers associated with illegal abortion and inequalities associated with the poor and the minority women who are unable to control their fertility (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 471).
Steinbock, Arras and Alex argue that abortion is not wrong because of the moral status of the embryo and the burdens resulting from pregnancy and childbirth on women (471). It is okay to kill a non- conscious fetus if a woman does not want to keep the pregnancy because killing a fetus does not deprive it of a future like ours. This is based on the simple scientific fact that a fetus is non- conscious and consentient hence it does not have a future like ours (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 472).
A fetus cannot be equated to a new born baby because even though the fetus is alive and human, it is practically not aware of anything and it is not any different from a sperm and ovum which are also alive and human. Furthermore, a fetus cannot think, feel or even perceive anything as opposed to a new born baby. This makes Killing of fetuses to be morally different from killing babies because they do not have the ability to experience pain and pleasure. They are consentient; just like trees and they lack interest of their own hence it is impossible to consider their interests (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 472).
Steinbock, Arras and Alex highlight that nonscentient beings cannot experience pain and suffering because it does not matter to them what they experience or what is done to them. Since fetuses are nonscentient, it follows that they do not have the ability to experience pain and pleasure. This is simply because their nervous system has not yet developed to transmit pain messages to the brain hence fetuses do not undergo through any form of pain during abortion (473).
Although fetuses are living, they do not have a life because they are nonsentient, they are equivalent to living cells in human beings which die or are simply killed. Such cells are not said to lose their live or to be deprived of their lives. Killing a fetus before it becomes conscious and aware does not deprive it of anything (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 473).
The fact that fetuses are potential human beings does not qualify them to be treated as actual human beings. In any case living human beings are potentially dead but there is no reason to treat them like corpses (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 474). If fetuses; the potential human beings should be treated like real human beings, then the potential personhood attached to fertilized ova should also be attached to unfertilized eggs and sperms as potential human beings. Furthermore every player is also a potential winner and as such unfertilized eggs and sperms are also potential human beings and their potential should not be negated (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 474).
Bearing in mind that neither the sperm nor the egg has a future of its own before fertilization, it follows that even the embryo does not have a future without the uterus and cannot develop all by itself without the uterus and adequate nutrients from the pregnant woman (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 477). A pregnant mother serves as a life support system to sustain the life of a fetus; hence the morality of abortion not only depends on the fetus but also on woman's moral obligation to sustain the life of the fetus without terminating pregnancy (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 478).
Pregnancies are associated with various burdens including labor, delivery and sometimes death. Outside the abortion context, there is no situation in which someone should undergo risks and burdens to preserve another person's life. Clearly, restrictive laws of abortion impose burdens on pregnant mothers that are not imposed on other people in comparable situations thus violating the principle of equal protection. (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 478).
A woman should not be forced to undertake significant risks and burdens of keeping the fetus alive. After all, it is the woman will have to carry a bigger burden of raising a child against her wishes or even giving it up for adoption (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 479). It is morally right to terminate pregnancy for sex selection or for fetal reductions, especially where a woman has 3 or more fetuses because chances of them surviving are minimal if some are not killed. It is also risky to mother's health (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 481).
Women have a moral right to decide either to carry the burdens of pregnancy and childbirth or to abort. It would be much fair to put women to task on justifying their decision to have children instead of justifying their decision to procure abortion (Steinbock, Arras and Alex 482).
The two articles strongly disapprove each other on the morality of abortion. In his opinion, Marquis strongly condemns abortion viewing it as an immoral practice that terminates the life of the unborn child, depriving it of a future like ours. On the other hand, Steinbock, Arras and Alex disapprove Marquis belief that a fetus has a future like ours. They argue that a fetus cannot be equated to a human being or a baby because it cannot think or perceive anything. It is both non- conscious and nonscentient, hence killing it does not deprive it of anything. While Marquis might have a point on termination of life of the unborn baby, he does not seem to give a convincing proof of a fetus being a baby, a human being and having a life like ours hence making his argument to be questionable.
Marquis two accounts that make killing wrong seem to lose focus on how killing a fetus is wrong. The discontinuation account only talks of terminating life and discontinuing the experience of living to the victim. Marquis does not tell us what makes a fetus to be a living being similar to human beings who have experiences and well developed nervous systems to experience pain and pleasure. This gives more power to Steinbock, Arras and Alex, who precisely explain why a fetus is not a human being, they clearly point out that a fetus does not have any experiences or a life to be discontinued and it is not in any way different from sperms and ovaries because it cannot think or feel anything. They categorically point out that killing of a fetus is different from killing of babies because the nervous system of a fetus has not developed to transmit pain to the brain and as such, a fetus does not feel any pain when aborted as opposed to babies when killed. This sounds more convincing, given the facts that have been raised in support of the argument as opposed to Marquis argument that lacks support.
Similarly, Marquis second account that makes killing wrong is the desire to live. Again, Marquis does not give any convincing evidence on how a fetus has a desire to live or what gives the fetus that desire. This gives an opportunity to Steinbock, Arras and Alex to convince us that fetuses do not have any desire to live because they do not have a life in the first place. They are nonsentient. Convincingly, Steinbock, Arras and Alex point out that fetuses are potential human beings and have no right to be treated like real human beings; just like human beings are potentially dead but cannot be treated as corpses. This gives more strength to their point of view that fetuses have no desire to live and cannot be treated as if they have it, they cannot be treated like human beings. Marquis contradicts himself when he equates a fetus to a human being who is unconscious, sleeping or tired of living arguing that it is morally wrong to kill someone who has no desire to live, hence abortion is wrong. Clearly, the account of killing being wrong because of desire to live negates the killing of a fetus because it has no desire.
In conclusion, Marques opposes abortion putting emphasis on the life and the rights of the fetus, while saying nothing about the life and the moral rights of the pregnant mother. Steinbock, Arras and Alex strongly support abortion on the account of a fetus having no life and no feelings because its nervous system is not well developed. They also support abortion on account of unwanted pregnancies and the burdens resulting from childbirth as well as sex selection and fatal reductions.
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