Chapter  8:    Abortion

Section 3. Presentation of Issues.

A very complicated issue for which much rational inquiry and discourse and reflection is needed before decision making.

There are different types of issues involved: Factual, Conceptual, Ethical

Factual: such issues include "viability" for those who use Natural Law Theory and the measurement of acceptability or approval by society for those that use the Utilitarian Theory

Conceptual: issues such as what is a "person" and what is "abortion"

Ethical: Main issues include should abortion be permitted? Required? Forbidden?

Abortion: What is it? There are several possible meanings:

The termination of a pregnancy

The accidental termination of a pregnancy: miscarriage

The natural termination of a pregnancy prematurely: spontaneous abortion or miscarriage

The deliberate termination of a pregnancy

The deliberate termination of a pregnancy for the purpose of saving a life: therapeutic abortion

The deliberate termination of a pregnancy for the purpose of terminating fetal development

CASES:

A. Parents' rights vis a vis their pregnant daughter(12 years old) threat to life of daughter, refusal on religious grounds COURT rules for daughter

B. RU-486 PILL: the "morning after pill"

C. Thalidomide: abnormal fetus

Pregnancy Tests: 7 to 10 days after fertilization

Status of the Fetus:

  • person
  • non-person
  • potential person

Arguments in support of the fetus as person

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/SFL/ethics.htm

Rights of Women

Therapeutic abortion

Ethical Traditions:

A. IF a fetus is a non-person

Utilitarian: persons are rational and autonomous and have a right to control their bodies

Kant: persons are rational and autonomous and have a right to control their bodies

Ross: persons are rational and autonomous and have a right to control their bodies

Rawls: persons are rational and autonomous and have a right to control their bodies

Natural law- No deliberate termination of a pregnancy for the purpose of termination of a viable healthy life (person) is permissible.

B. IF a fetus is a person

Utilitarian: persons are rational and autonomous and have a right to control their bodies and an abortion is morally acceptable if it produces more utility than not doing so

Kant: permits therapeutic abortions and termination of abnormal fetuses

Ross: permits therapeutic abortions and termination of abnormal fetuses

Rawls: permits therapeutic abortions and termination of abnormal fetuses

Natural law- No deliberate termination of a pregnancy for the purpose of termination of a viable healthy life (person) is permissible.

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Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2002. All Rights reserved.

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