Abortion (OCR exam board)


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Abortion (OCR exam board)

  1. 1. Abortion Overview
  2. 2. Personhood: When is a foetus a person? Rights of the Foetus depend upon when life begins: 1.Foetus not considered a life until actually born 2.Life begins at point of conception 3.Life begins when foetus achieves viability – point of survival on own.
  3. 3. Law • 1991 abortion limit law changed to 24 weeks • Because babies born at 24 weeks are viable and can survive • Therefore foetus should be given legal protection if it possible to survive outside womb • Medical science has moved on since then so pressure to lower to 20weeks
  4. 4. When does life begin? At conception: • Catholic Church • attractive view as it is clear cut and marks a definite moment when foetus deserves same rights as a human person After conception: • Law says 24 weeks • Some make a distinction between potential life and actual life • Heart begins to beat • Signs of brain activity At Birth: • Anything after birth is murder
  5. 5. Argument around ‘Ensoulment’ Ensoulment: moment human gains a soul. Views are: •happens at the moment of conception •Heart beat •at the formation of the nervous system and brain; •at the first brain activity; •or when the foetus is able to survive independently of the uterus (viability) •first breath after being born;
  6. 6. Sanctity of life/Personhood • Christianity holds that all life is sacred. • Implies reverence and respect • Not all living cells are human e.g. cancer cells • Question is: what is needed to make a person if not growing cells: brain, feelings, looks human?
  7. 7. Pro Choice: - supporters • Campaigns for legalised abortion usually characterises itself as pro choice. • Foetus is part of woman’s body • Until 24 weeks foetus is unviable (cannot survive without mother) • Not considered an independent life • It is a potential life
  8. 8. Mary Anne Warren “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion”, 1973 Abortion morally permissible at any stage of the pregnancy and under any circumstances. Against: •1) It is wrong to kill innocent human beings. •2) Foetuses are innocent human beings. •3) Therefore, it is wrong to kill foetuses. She argues: what makes a human being? Is it: •genetic sense •moral sense/ part of moral community. •Certain characteristics
  9. 9. Mary Anne Warren Continued “the rights of any actual person invariably outweigh those of any potential person” 1. Consciousness + capacity to feel pain; 2. Reasoning 3. Self-motivated activity 4. The capacity to communicate. 5.Self-awareness. Warren claims that: • any being who does not possess most of 1-5 is not a human being. • the more like a person a being is = stronger right to life • no stage of foetal development at which a foetus resembles a person enough to have a significant right to life. • a foetus’s potential for being a person not significant to have a right to life.
  10. 10. Judith Jarvis Thompson • Suppose you wake up one morning and you find that your circulatory system is attached to the circulatory system of a famous violinist who's kidneys are failing. You didn't give your approval for this but now if you detach yourself from this violinist, his kidneys will surely fail and he will die immediately. Furthermore, you must remain attached to this violinist for nine months. Once nine months is up, the violinist will be viable to live alone again. Are you acting immoral by detaching yourself from this violinist? Or are you acting charitable by keeping him attached?
  11. 11. Sanctity of life: Pro - Life • We are created in image of God – imago dei – so humans are set apart from animals and have a ‘spark’ of divinity within them • Church of England: express overriding compassion for the needs of the mother, especially if there is a threat to her mental or physical health. Values all human life equally Clearly states that all killing is wrong (inline with 10 commandments)
  12. 12. Against Charles Darwin challenged ‘imago dei’ with natural selection Kant saw no reason to link vital signs (heart beat, brain waves) to valuing life. Peter Singer to treat human life over animal life is ‘speciesism’ – ought to value all life not just human Sanctity of life: which life is more sacred –mother or foetus? Life gift from God To abort due to disability = denies value of lives of countless disabled people. Who is to decide whether a foetus will enjoy a good quality of life?
  13. 13. Right to a child Ethical issues surrounding IVF 1. Do we all have a right to a child through IVF? 2. Is a child a gift from God and not a right? • UK Human Rights Act: Article 8 Right to a private and family life. • IVF: In vitro fertilisation • Taking eggs and sperm into a laboratory dish to help fertilisation – test tube babies
  14. 14. Ethical views on IVF • AIH – artificial insemination by husband • AID – donor • IVF – test tube • Spare embryos used for experimentation (up to 14 days after) • Screening for imperfect embryos = imperfections weeded out – will this lead to choosing desirable traits • IVF exploited for designer babies? • older woman past child bearing age using IVF • IVF not very successful
  15. 15. Natural Law • Many problems with IVF • Masturbation in order to receive the sperm used – not following natural function. • IVF results in destruction of embryos – First primary precept (protect innocent life) • Reproduction is a natural process and should not be tampered with.
  16. 16. Utilitarianism • IVF has a low success rate which would affect the happiness of the couple • Would the money that the health service use be better spent saving lives – would this maximise happiness? • Is it ethical to spend money on assisting IVF with growing population problems and poverty – happiness of one couple over the pain of many?
  17. 17. Kant • Is the destruction of so many embryos in order to create one life justified? • Using an embryo to cure another sibling: is this using that embryo as a means to an end? • Can we universalise the use of IVF for infertile couples?
  18. 18. Religious Ethics • Catholic Church: technology and doctors dominate in creating new life. • Does not disapprove of experimentation that may help overcome embryos disease (Embryo research) • Protestant Church: Paul Ramsay opposes AID as reproduction should remain within marriage • Joseph Fletcher – Situation Ethics – person centred, love/ agape – love for a new child/ family, help infertile couples. • Surrogacy seen as against Sanctity of Life – child is a gift not a right • But: Liberal Christians= surrogacy act of agape • Strong SOL – against IVF – destruction of embryos.
  19. 19. Biblical Links • “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 • “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
  20. 20. HTTPS://ITHINKTHEREFOREI TEACH.WORDPRESS.COM/ If you would like further information please follow the link below to my blog: