Is Abortion Morally Permissible or Not? Essay

Is Abortion Morally Permissible or Not? Essay

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The following essay will examine the morality of abortion with specific reference to the writings of Don Marquis, Judith Jarvis Thompson, Peter Singer and Mary Anne Warren. I will begin by assessing the strength of the argument provided by Marquis which claims that abortion is impermissible because it deprives a being of a potential “future like ours,” and then go on to consider the writings of Singer, Thomson and Warren to both refute Marquis claims and support my assertion that abortion is morally permissible primarily because of the threat to the freedom and bodily autonomy of women extending the right to life to a foetus in utero would pose.
To fully understand the argument we should first define the parameters of the debate and the key ideas held by each side. Throughout this essay I will be using the terms conservative and liberal as defined by Singer (p. 125) to refer to either side of the debate. The argument usually centers on whether or not a foetus qualifies as a person-- a complex, self-aware being with future-orientated preferences (Study Guide, p. 20)-- those on the conservative side usually argue that a foetus is a person, or at least potential person, and as a result liken abortion to murder, while those on the liberal side tend to refute the proposed personhood of a foetus. Both Singer and Warren agree that human development is a gradual process and it is impossible to pin point an exact stage where personhood is attained (Singer, p. 129, Study Guide, p.187), however it is clear, at least, that this happens somewhere in early childhood, and that while in utero the foetus only qualifies as a merely conscious being (Singer, p. 136). While I personally agree that a foetus is by no means a person and possesses none o...


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...nhood and potential is too flimsy a concept to be relevant and so in this essay, however to prevent repeating the same argument, i decided to examine another aspect of the issue by taking the focus from the foetus and placing it upon the woman, whose personhood and right to life and bodily autonomy are not at all questionable or worthy of debate. In doing so it becomes clear that granting legal personhood to a foetus cannot be done without greatly infringing upon the rights of women, and so abortion is morally permissible and should be readily available for those women who do not seek to assume the responsibility of a pregnancy or fulfill the role the role of mother, because a woman’s right to her own body outweighs that of another being, and it would be immoral to disallow it because of the consequences that would emerge from treating a foetus as an equal person.



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