Abortion 2


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Abortion 2

  1. 1. Abortion Part II A Massively Controversial Issue With Philosophical, Theological, Ethical, and Legal aspects to it. Please note this is not all my own work - other sources have been used in compiling this work.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  2. 2. Arguments for a Pro-Choice Position Pro-life advocates have only one point - the unborn is still a child, a human life and should be treated as such. Pro-life advocates would say that what follows in this section, the pro-choice arguments for abortion, does not answer the question of the personhood of the unborn in the mothers womb. [Rae calls this “begging the question” or assuming the conclusion one wishes to reach without offering any evidence for its validity.]Wednesday 31 August 2011
  3. 3. 1. A woman has the right to do with her own body whatever she chooses The fundamental pro-choice position and frequently stated. It is a position held by many who might not have an abortion themselves. Rae says this is in fact not an absolute: In the USA in many states prostitution is illegal, illegal drugs are not allowed to be freely used. Is the fetus part of the womans body? It does have its own DNA and early on in development its own heart and respiratory system and usually a distinct gender from conception.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  4. 4. So the fetus is attached to the mother - but is it part of her body? i.e. Living inside her does not mean it is part of her. Historically in Western civilisations the right to life is held to take precedence over all others. Only if a fetus is not a living human being can a choice be made which would result in its death. For both sides the argument focusses clearly upon the state of the fetus - whilst in the womb is it a child or not?Wednesday 31 August 2011
  5. 5. 2. If abortion becomes illegal women have to look for illegal (dangerous “back street”) options Before legal abortion options were provided women had to face looking for illegal options to deal with unwanted pregnancies which often endangered their lives. This safety issue once again addresses the issue of whether the fetus is a person with a right to life - if yes, then you are legalising the right to kill someone. Is abortion simply another type of surgery which removes parts of the body?Wednesday 31 August 2011
  6. 6. Rae also questions the number of illegal abortions suggesting only 42 happened in 1972, the year before Roe v.Wade He also says most abortions prior to 1973 were conducted by licensed doctors. Additionally such a law would be hard to enforce - invasion of privacy and of doctor-patient confidentiality would be involved. Rae says that before 1973 enforceable abortion laws were in operation and only 100,000 abortions took place per year - now the figure is 1,500,000Wednesday 31 August 2011
  7. 7. 3. Forcing women, especially poor ones, to continue their pregnancy will result in overwhelming financial hardship If abortion is not an option then women cannot control the size of their families - poverty and financial difficulties would follow all through the life of the child and mother. You have to assume unborn are not persons or else you could apply this to all financially burdensome on society. In society being financially burdensome does not mean you have no right to life. Is the solution to unwanted pregnancies to eliminate the problem - or should we look for a solution like adoption - is hardship a good reason for killing?Wednesday 31 August 2011
  8. 8. 4. Society should not force women to bring unwanted children into the world Added to section 3 there are various reasons a pregnancy might not be wanted - prochoice advocates suggest this stops unwanted children being born and therefore stops abuse etc. Prolife advocates say being unwanted is not a comment on the child but on the parents - and it still does not address the issue of the life of the unborn. Rae says that since 1973 child abuse has risen significantly in spite of abortion being available.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  9. 9. 5. Society should not force women to bring handicapped children into the world Some handicaps can be detected through amniocentesis whilst the fetus is in the womb. It is cruel and unwarranted to make a woman carry a pregnancy which will result in a deformed child. These are a very small % of all abortions. One might argue for abortion in some of these special cases - but it is not a case for abortion on demand.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  10. 10. The question is posed: if we assume the fetus is a person (again the key issue here), would it then be ok to kill all handicapped people? Is a handicapped life not worth living? Are handicapped people unhappy (evidence suggests not)Wednesday 31 August 2011
  11. 11. Downs syndrome - caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. Kids with Down syndrome tend to share certain facial and physical features such as a flat facial profile, an upward slant to the eyes, small ears, and a large or protruding tongue. At birth, infants with Down syndrome often appear “floppy” due to a condition called hypotonia (low muscle tone) - grow at a slower rate and remain smaller than other children their age. For infants, low muscle tone may contribute to feeding problems and motor delays. Toddlers and older kids may have delays in speech and in learning skills such as feeding, dressing, and toilet training.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  12. 12. All have some degree of mental retardation - learn more slowly and have difficulties with complex reasoning and judgment, but they do have the capacity to learn - are often delayed in their developmental milestones such as walking or talking. While they tend to walk and talk later than other children, children with Down syndrome will learn to walk and talk. It is important to remember that it is impossible to predict the degree of mental retardation in an infant with Down syndrome at birth (just as it is impossible to predict the IQ of any infant at birth).Wednesday 31 August 2011
  13. 13. 6. Society should not force women who are pregnant through incest or rape to continue their pregnancies A woman has been forced to have sex against her will - surely she should not be made to suffer again in having a baby as a result of that act, surely she should be allowed to end the pregnancy? This is 1 in 100,000 cases of pregnancy. Again pro-life advocates argue against on the grounds of the personhood of the fetus.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  14. 14. 7. Restrictive abortion laws discriminate against poor women Before 1973 rich women could afford to travel to other countries to have an abortion if they wanted - poor women could not. Hence poor women were discriminated against. Rae argues it is only discrimination if you are denying them some moral good - which he says is the point in fact that is being argued against.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  15. 15. Peter Singer says about Down syndrome babies: We may not want a child to start on lifes uncertain voyage if the prospects arc clouded.When this can be known at a very early stage in the voyage, we may still have a chance to make a fresh start.This means detaching ourselves from the infant who has been born, cutting ourselves free before the ties that have already begun to bind us to our child have become irresistible. Instead of going forward and putting all our effort into making the best of the situation, we can still say no, and start again from the beginning.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  16. 16. Peter Singer says about Down syndrome babies: We may not want a child to start on lifes uncertain voyage if the prospects arc clouded.When this can be known at a very early stage in the voyage, we may still have a chance to make a fresh start.This means detaching ourselves from the infant who has been born, cutting ourselves free before the ties that have already begun to bind us to our child have become irresistible. Instead of going forward and putting all our effort into making the best of the situation, we can still say no, and start again from the beginning.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  17. 17. Singer came under international condemnation when he announced he favors killing disabled babies via infanticide. Though he was blasted from both sides of the political spectrum, the so-called ethicist still holds to the position.  . . . Singer said he would definitely kill a disabled newborn baby. He indicated he would do so “if that was in the best interests of the baby and of the family as a whole.” Singer said he found it surprising that abortion advocates would disagree with his views. “Many people find this shocking, yet they support a woman’s right to have an abortion.”Wednesday 31 August 2011
  18. 18. “The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval.” “the traditional view of the sanctity of human life will collapse under pressure from scientific, technological and demographic developments.” “[The introduction includes a quote from Alice Walker that says animals] were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites. ... can only be compared with that which resulted from the centuries of tyranny by white humans over black humans.”Wednesday 31 August 2011
  19. 19. Rae is keen to ensure we understand that the issue at stake here is the personhood of the fetus - all the other issues beg the question. If the fetus is not a person at the point of conception then the arguments raised by pro-choice advocates need to be considered valid.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  20. 20. The personhood of the fetus Possible positions: The fetus is a person at conception. The fetus is a person at some time in gestation - if so, when, what is the decisive moment when it becomes a person? The newborn child is not yet a person -rare. Some suggest there is a difference between a fetus being a human being and a person - one might ask when the essential nature of the fetus changes?Wednesday 31 August 2011
  21. 21. Some say this cannot be known scientifically (it is philosophical and religious) and so the choice is that of the individual. Some say the prochoice view allows for abortion throughout the 9 months of pregnancy - as personhood cannot begin until birth. Rae suggest if you are not sure about the personhood of the fetus you should be cautious not go ahead with abortion.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  22. 22. 1. The US supreme court has used the idea of viability - when the fetus can survive on its own outside the womb - as suggesting a decisive moment. This is 24-26 weeks - the fetus might still need some medical technology but not the environment of the uterus. Viability varies and cannot be precisely measured - and medical science keeps pushing back viability to earlier stages of pregnancy. It also depends upon where you are - e.g. rural India compared with New York. All this adds up to viability being unreliable or at least hard to define and regulate.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  23. 23. 2. Brain development is also suggested as a decisive moment (at about 45 days) - as death is decided by a cessation of brain function this seems reasonable. But in a dead person the brain cannot be made to function again - in a fetus the brain is only temporarily nonfunctional - and from conception it has the potential to develop full brain activity.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  24. 24. 3. Sentience (ability to feel or perceive things) is also suggested as a decisive moment - this is especially though of in terms of when the fetus can feel pain. Hence abortion before this time is ok as the fetus cannot feel any pain in it. Q: should we allow harm to the fetus simply because it cannot feel pain? If I lose sensation in my legs should they be amputated - or would I still be harmed? And, what do we do with people who temporarily lose feeling - those in a vegetative state or who are in a coma - or even who are sleeping?Wednesday 31 August 2011
  25. 25. If you argue the loss of sentience is only temporary you have to agree that something apart from sentience determines personhood. (This argument is then also used against arguing for abortion on the basis of being self-conscious, aware of your environment etc.)Wednesday 31 August 2011
  26. 26. 4. Quickening - when a mother fist feels the baby move inside her womb - is also suggested as as decisive moment. Q: Does the fetus become alive simply by someone else being aware of it? In this same argument is the idea of appearance of humanness - the fetus resembles a baby and so it is emotionally harder to abort. But does appearance reflect the essence of the fetus - which has the capacity to grow to look like a human from conception.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  27. 27. 5. Some suggest birth is the decisive moment in a fetus acquiring personhood. But only location has changed from the day before and the day after birth.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  28. 28. 6. Implantation a. The embryo signals its presence in the womb causing hormonal changes or signals - again this depends on someone else recognising the personhood. b. 20-50% of all embryos spontaneously miscarry - so this is critical for the essence of the fetus - the essential nature of the embryo does not depend on the number of embryos which survive to determine its essence.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  29. 29. In the light of all these arguments Rae suggests personhood starts at conception on this basis: 1. An adult human being is the result of continuous growth from conception. 2. From conception to adulthood development has no break which is relevant to the essential nature of the fetus. (Rae says this is the debatable part - but his counter arguments to the 6 arguments above show any break has no relevance to the nature of the fetus) 3. Therefore following on from 1 and 2 one is a human person from conception onwards.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  30. 30. From conception the fetus has its own genetic identity needing only food and shelter as it develops into a full formed baby and then an adult. Thus the fetus is a full human person in the process of developing into an adult.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  31. 31. Judith Jarvis Thomson a pro-abortion advocate argues that even though the fetus is a person the mother still has the right to abort. Using an analogy of a person taken captive to give blood to a violinist who would otherwise die, Thomson argues that the kidnapped person has no moral obligation to keep the violinist alive. Her argument is that the mother has been kidnapped by the fetus and has no obligation to maintain the fetus’s life.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  32. 32. Whilst this might be ok for pregnancies through non- consensual sex, is this a fair comment on normal pregnancies? If the fetus is a person then one might argue that the fetus does have a claim on the mothers body - just like a one year old does, and if not catered for the mother could be accused of neglect or even child abuse.Wednesday 31 August 2011
  33. 33. Stem Cell Research See separate presentationWednesday 31 August 2011