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Abortion is a very controversial topic. This paper will discuss the opposing sides of the issue as well as my own personal opinion. The basic question is when a developing person actually becomes a person or alive. The following articles: A Defense of Abortion, by Judith Jarvis Thomson and Opposition to Abortion: A Human Rights Approach, by Baruch Brody discuss the opposing sides of the abortion issue. I will be using and summarizing those articles in my evaluation of the topic abortion. In Judith Jarvis Thomson’s article, A Defense of Abortion, she argues that a mother has the rights to “unplug” herself from a fetus even if we assume it is a person. She also believes this to be permissible in cases other than rape.
The extreme anti-abortion view that Thomson discusses is the view that abortion is impermissible even in certain cases pertaining to saving the mothers life. The argument present in this case is that performing the abortion is directly killing the child, whereas not doing anything at all is just the same as letting the mother die. The question is which one is right. How can abortion be though of as murder if the mother is doing it to save her own life? How can she just sit there passively and wait for her own death. A woman has the right to defend her life against any threats posed by an unborn child, even if it involves the child’s death. Thomson talks about what the phrase “right to life” actually means. Some believe that it means having the right to the bare minimum one needs to continue life. Some people are stricter in their views of “right to life”. In that particular case, it does not include the right to be given anything, but only the right not to be killed by anybody. Then Thomson goes on about the right to use the mother’s body. In cases of rape, the woman gets pregnant she has not given the unborn person the right to use her body for food and shelter.
Another way for a person to be “uninvited” into someone’s body, is if a woman is voluntarily engaging in intercourse, and due to her bad actions she gets pregnant. Eventhough, she did invite this person the fetus to live inside her, but by knowing the consequences of her actions, the fetus does hold some rights to her body. By having an abortion, it would be depriving the fetus of its right to use its mother’s body. The succeeding argument it the indecency and injustice argument. Thomson says there are cases in which it is morally indecent to separate a person from your body at the cost of its life. An example of that is what if pregnancy lasted only for one hour, but the pregnancy is the result of a rape. Even thought it is only lasting one hour it would be indecent of the mother to abort the child.
Nevertheless, if a woman is pregnant due to a raping, then she does have to opportunity to not allow the unborn to use her body for the time it needs. It may be indecent but it is not unjust. Baruch Brody criticizes the opposition to Thomson’s article. His stance on the issue is that if we think that the fetus is a person, then abortion is wrong unless both the mother and the baby will die anyway. Many opponents of abortion argue that at conception there is a human life that is created and has its own genetic makeup and if left alone it will develop to the point of birth. He begins his argument by stating that the carrier of the fetus has it within her power to choose whether or not to abort the fetus. However, this does not mean that whatever choice she makes is the right moral choice and no one else has the right to evaluate the decision that she makes. Brody says that people do not have the right to do anything possible to keep control over the uses of their bodies. Thomson argues that the mother has the right to abort the fetus, even if her life is not threatened. She defends this by saying that the only ones involved are the one whose life is threatened and the one who threatens it. No one else has the right to intervene with the two people involved. The next case Brody addresses is abortion to save the mother. The case is as following, the mothers life is threatened by the fetus so she has the right to abort the fetus even if it is a human being with the right to life. If the fetus does pose a threat to the mother’s life, it is not considered guilty of attempting to take the life of its mother. So the mother can not justify destroying the fetus on the ground that it would be a permissible act of killing the pursuer.
Certain cases of abortion are cases of rape and in the case where having the child may cause a problem for the rest of the family. In the case of rape, the mother has two “considerations” that would support her taking the life of the fetus. If she suffers great physical and psychological affects after the rape, even if the fetus is a human being she has the right to abort the unwanted pregnancy. The second one is that the fetus has no right to be inside the woman. It was put there as the result of an act of aggression so she has the right to resist the aggression by aborting the fetus. The criticism of the argument above is that however bad the circumstances turn out, the taking of an innocent life is not justified. In the case where the fetus causes problems for the rest of the family, the mother would not be able to function as a wife or as a mother to the rest of her children, as a result of the pregnancy. Brody concludes that these special circumstances do not justify having the abortion. The last case that Brody discusses is about fetal humanity and brain function. We need to think of all the properties associated with being considered human. The brain-death theory says that as long as there has not been any damage to brain functions, the person will continue to exist. For example, if the baby could not move but still had some sort of brain functions does not make it any less human. The next question was when did the fetus become a human. Brody argues that the fetus becomes a human being with the right to life between the second and twelfth week after conception. They have also concluded that abortions are immorally impermissible after that point except in certain circumstances.
My conclusion is that I am against abortion in cases which it is used as a means of birth control. However, my opinions differ in the cases where the life of the mother is at risk. The article mentioned how the rights of the fetus outweigh the rights of the mother but I disagree with that. The mother has the overpowering right to decide what she prefers to do to her body. Especially in cases of rape, I support the woman’s right to choose if she prefers to have an abortion. I do not agree with how the article makes one feel guilty for thinking rape is a valid reason to abort a fetus. It goes about saying that the fetus is just an innocent result, I disagree. I feel that it will haunt and remind the mother everyday she looks at that baby of what happened to her. The issue of abortion is a very heated topic. No one can say which side is better and there are no right or wrong beliefs. Abortion is a very personal opinion. I feel that your position in the abortion issue is based on your morals and philosophy of life. Personally, I do not think I have bad or wrong morals because I agree with abortion in certain areas and disagree with it in others.
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