The ethics of abortion

Essay by shesaclicheCollege, UndergraduateA, June 2006

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The moral permissibility of abortion is an issue of utmost controversy and debate in both the philosophical community and in the general public. There are people that believe that abortion is never permissible in any circumstance. Others believe that abortion is always and only permissible if the mother chooses to abort. And there are those who stand in the middle with beliefs that abortions can be ethically sound in certain situations. I will first examine Don Marquis's article entitled "Why Abortion is Immoral." Then I will counter Marquis's arguments with feminist arguments in Suzan Sherwin's article, "Abortion Through a Feminist Lens." It is my thesis that abortions are morally acceptable if and only if the decision to abort is the autonomous choice of the mother.

Don Marquis argument is based on the assumption that "whether or not abortion is morally permissible stands or falls on whether or not a fetus is the sort of being whose life is seriously wrong to end."

(Readings in Health Care Ethics, 241) This assumption allows Marquis to set up his thesis which states "that abortion is, except possibly in rare cases, seriously immoral, that it is in the same moral category as killing innocent adult human beings." (ibid)

Marquis's arguments are set up in a dialectical essay format. He first argues from his anti-abortion perspective, then he will contradict his own argument with a pro-choice argument creating a standstill. Marquis begins where many who write on this topic begin, with the question of whether or not a fetus is a person. He first argues that "life is present from the moment of conception" (ibid) since the fetus posses a genetic code and other human characteristics. Marquis then argues from the pro-choice side stating that fetuses are not persons because they are...