No matter where you stand on the issue, abortion is a highly debated topic in today’s society. In this essay I will examine both sides of the abortion issue. I will begin with a brief overview of the abortion debate, to include the morality of the situation. Next I will discuss the Pro-Life argument. Lastly I will look at the Pro-Choice view. In the final analysis I will show how utilitarianism, altruism, and situational ethical views apply to abortion. Having in mind the extreme controversy surrounding this issue, I will examine the history of abortion and why it is so highly debated today.
The moral problem with abortion is when, if ever, is abortion morally justifiable? The answer to this question lies somewhere within one of three points of view. First, the conservative view is that abortion as never justifiable. Next, the liberals would say abortion is always justifiable. Finally, the moderate view holds the belief that some reasons, but not all, give adequate justification. Abortion is defined as the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus (Merriam-Webster Online dictionary, 2010).
In order to argue either side of this argument one must decide the ontological status of a fetus. When does the fetus become a biological human being? There are a number of positions that define the being or exultance of a fetus. The conservative would argue it is at the moment of conception, in contrast to the liberal who would say a fetus never reaches this status with the moderate somewhere in between. The next issue we must consider is the moral status of a fetus; does this fetus have any rights, and if so, what are they? If a fetus has no rights, abortion would be a non-issue. Each moral view outlined earlier determines a person’s view of the fetus’ moral status. The conservative view claims full moral status at conception; the liberal view denies any moral status; and moderate views are probably somewhere near the point of first brain activity. This determination shows exactly when a fetus becomes human.
Once the status of a fetus is determined the arguments split into two camps: Pro-Life Advocates who are against abortion, and Pro-Choice Advocates who are for abortion. Pro-Life Advocates believe abortion is murder because they classify a fetus as an un-born human being, and killing a human being is murder.
The anti-abortionist will claim that her position is supported by such generally
accepted moral principles as "It is always prima facie seriously wrong to take a
human life" or "It is always prima facie seriously wrong to end the life of a baby.
" Since these are generally accepted moral principles, her position is certainly not obviously wrong. (Marquis, 1989, p. 184)
The next pro-Life contention is that abortion can set a dangerous precedent. Anything that can lead to such disrespect toward human life is morally wrong. If we decide that certain human lives...