A Case Against Warren and Abortion

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“I intend to judge things for myself; to judge wrongly, I think, is more honorable than not to judge at all.” What author Henry James meant by this was that it is better to make up one’s mind and have an opinion than to remain complacent, such as the case of Mary Anne Warren. Warren’s arguments for abortion’s possible permissibility are lacking in substance. The aim of my paper is to discuss Warren’s insufficient criteria for personhood and address the problem with her concept of potential personhood.
“I argue that it is personhood, and not genetic humanity, which is the fundamental basis for membership in the moral community” (Warren 166). Warren’s primary argument for abortion’s permissibility is structured around her stance that fetuses are not persons. This argument relies heavily upon her six criteria for personhood: A being’s sentience, emotionality, reason, capacity for communication, self-awareness, and having moral agencies (Warren 171-172). While this list seems sound in considering an average, healthy adult’s personhood, it neither accounts for nor addresses the personhood of infants, mentally ill individuals, or the developmentally challenged. Sentience is one’s ability to consciously feel and perceive things around them. While it is true that all animals and humans born can feel and perceive things within their environment, consider a coma patient, an individual suspended in unconsciousness and unable to move their own body for indeterminate amounts of time. While controversial, this person, whom could be in the middle of an average life, does not suddenly become less of a person
Consider the second criteria of emotionality. Emotionality is one’s ability to feel and be affected by emotion. While all average individua...

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...l cannot account for that. So being that the hypothetical space explorer experiment and fails to address accidental pregnancy through consensual sex, only accounts for lethal pregnancies, and makes Warren’s argument fails.
To speak plainly, the issue of abortion is a slippery slope of morality. While siding with the Pro-Choice side myself, it felt necessary to examine Warren’s opinion so as to give constructive criticism and potentially help strengthen her argument for the future. Through Warren’s lack of sound consideration for what constitutes a personhood and numerous issues regarding potential personhood, it is clear that the conversation still has a long way to go.

Works Cited

Warren, Mary Anne. "On Moral and Legal Status of Abortion." Trans. Array Exploring Ethics:
An Introductory Anthology. . 2nd. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 164-181.

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