Abortion: Ms. Warren and Mr. Marquis

Essay by agakutyna March 2005

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The authors differ in that Ms. Warren presented a legal argument and Mr. Marquis

presented a moral argument. This is not to say that Ms. Warren didn't probe the moral

implications of the subject but only as to clarify for whom our morals serve.

Ms. Warren argued that an important step in finding a solution to the moral debate of

abortion would be to define what we consider a "human person". She believes that "the

term human has two distinct...senses" a moral sense and a genetic sense. (Rachels RTD

98-99). With a clear definition in place we can then argue whether a fetus is a human

person. Until that happens an argument such as the one Mr. Marquis uses is an example

of a fallacious argument because he makes the assumption that a fetus is a human


Mr. Marquis argued that killing takes away the future value from a human being and

therefore is morally wrong.

Since abortion takes the future value of a potential life

away, and since we collectively agree that the worst thing that can happen to someone is

to have their life taken away (the value of potential life being the same for adults and

children and therefore a fetus), then abortion is morally wrong (Rachels RTD 110-113).

The problem I have with this is that I didn't read anything about how he came to prove

that a fetus should be given the status of being alive or having life. I agree with his main

premise but I can't jump to his next premise or agree with his conclusion - how the fetus

has the same status as someone who is living and cognizant. He skipped over what

seems to be the main argument of when life is defined and as Ms. Warren believes

creates a fallacious argument against abortion.

Both writers addressed the issue of potential life. I think Mr. Marquis used this to get

around the definition of when life begins. If a fetus isn't a human person yet, it definitely

is a potential person and taking away the potential value of a potential life is wrong. Will

a fetus know what value is lost since it isn't cognizant or conscious of what could be lost?

Who decides what the value lost is for the fetus? Is it presumed? Ms. Warren uses the

need to define what a human person is before deciding whether a potential person has

the same rights that an actual person does. According to Ms. Warren one can conclude

that the actual person should have the protection and the right to make the decision of

whether or not to have an abortion and that these rights supersede the rights of the

potential person.

I am a proponent of choice but I did approach Mr. Marquis' essay with an open mind. I

see that I am more critical of his argument but I think it is because I think he avoids, by

the use of "potential" life, the main argument of when life is begins; at conception or at

birth. Because of this I am not swayed by his emotional argument. I agree much more

in the concept Ms. Warren argues that defining the differences between the actual person

and the potential person is necessary to accurately argue either position.