Abortion for the Most Robust Philosophical Debate, Essay

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For the most robust philosophical debate, the morality of abortion should be argued based on both duty-based and rights-based ethical principles. Abortion does in fact point to both duty and rights-based ethics. The duty to care is one example of a moral duty relevant to the abortion debate. Abortion also raises the question of rights. In the case of abortion, the rights belong to several stakeholders but none more salient than the embryo/fetus/potential human being. Because it is scientifically as well as philosophically impossible to delineate any other moment in which a fetus becomes a person, it is logical to presume that the beginning of personhood is conception and not some random or arbitrary point in the gestation period. The rights of the pregnant female are less central to the abortion debate from a philosophical standpoint, because it is the fetus/embryo who stands the chance of being killed. In other words, the fetus is the primary subject and object of the abortion debate. How the female go pregnant means nothing to the morality of abortion. Abortion is immoral for three fundamental reasons: the fetus/embryo is a person; the fetus/embryo therefore has rights; and no matter what, it is wrong to kill human life.

One of the fundamental tenets of the abortion debate is whether the fetus/embryo can be considered a person, because the morality of abortion hinges on this issue. Those who believe abortion is immoral understand that "biological development from the fetus to a human being is an incremental process which leaves no room for a morally significant break," (Gordon 1). It is illogical, and thus philosophically untenable, to claim that personhood starts at some later point in the development of the fetus. There is no scientific means by which to proclaim the beginning of life other than at the point of conception. The existence of a unicellular zygote proves that life exists, and that life is quintessentially human. That unicellular zygote might not yet be able to see or feel, let alone speak, but it is the unique unicellular zygote of a human being. As such, it is a person.

Persons have rights, which is why fetuses have rights. Not all societies presume the rights of people; in fact, many societies have been based on a lack of fundamental human rights. Assuming the philosophical discussion takes place in a society with democratic political principles and a belief in human rights, the abortion debate is a simple one. If all people in a society have rights, and a fetus is a person, then of course, a fetus has rights. Among the fundamental rights in a society includes the right to life. A person who is deaf cannot hear, but that person has the right to live. A person who is mentally disabled cannot function in society, but that person has the right to live as well. A person who is dependent on its mother for survival, as is the fetus, might not be able to talk or walk, but it also has the…

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Works Cited

"Abortion." Philosophy Talk. Retrieved online: http://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/abortion

Bouchier-Hayes, Frank. "Philosophers on Abortion and Infanticide." Retrieved online: http://www.minerva.mic.ul.ie//vol2/bh.html

Gordon, John-Stewart. "Abortion." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved online: http://www.iep.utm.edu/abortion/#SH3b

Thomson, Judith Jarvis. "A Defense of Abortion." Philosophy & Public Affairs. Vol 1, No. 1, Fall 1971. Retrieved online: http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm

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