Abortion and Ethics Term Paper

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Abortion is an important topic in society because it deals with the matter of life and death. It also deals with the matter of personal rights. Does a woman have the right to terminate a pregnancy? Or does abortion contradict ethics and moral standards that govern society and human beings? The conflict at the heart of the abortion argument is one of rights vs. ethics. On the one hand, those who support for abortion rights say that a woman has the right to choose. On the other hand, those who do not support abortion rights, say that the woman has a duty to carry the child to term because of an ethical and moral obligation. This paper will show how according to ethical and moral perspectives, life should be supported—which means that a woman should not choose to have an abortion because this violates moral law.

What is abortion? Abortion is the deliberate termination of life in the womb. Life begins at conception, with the fertilization of the egg. Cells begin dividing and growing rapidly: a new human life is developing. Women’s rights advocates attempt to get around the fact that a new human life is developing by referring to the child at his stage as a fetus and compartmentalizing its development into stages: in the early stages, it is just a fetus and not yet a child, and therefore terminating the pregnancy in the early stages is acceptable from a moral point of view because of is not terminating a human life but rather a process of development that, if left uninterrupted, will arrive at human life—but if terminated beforehand it should not be called human life but rather a fetus. A fetus is not a human being: this is the rationale that the women’s rights advocates will use to justify termination of the pregnancy.

It is a disingenuous argument because it uses semantics to side-step the real issue, which is that the woman is carrying a developing child. What that child represents—the sacrifice, the responsibility, the care, the time, the effort, the energy, the duty (all of which will be incumbent on the care taker of the child) is what is being terminated via abortion. Abortion stops the woman from having to deal with any of that. By blocking it out, however—by glossing over what is being done and simply asserting that one is not stopping a human life but rather ending a pregnancy is an effort in mental and moral gymnastics. When one makes this argument, one is not being logical.

A logical argument regarding abortion is this: abortion ends the development of a human life. Regardless of what stage in the development the life is in, abortion stops it and prevents it from naturally progressing.
It is denying that child the natural progression of life presented it in the act of conception. By saying that the baby is not a human until it reaches a certain stage of development in the womb is like saying the woman has a grace period in determining whether or not she wants to carry the child to term: so long as she makes up her mind before the child hits a specific stage of development, then she is free to either terminate the pregnancy or, of course, continue it.

In reality, the grace period has passed: the act of procreation is the moment at which the acceptance of the possibility of new life has been made. To go back after the fact and decide that new life is not what one wants is to attempt to go against nature. It is no different from one dumping toxic chemicals into a stream with the specific purpose of destroying the life therein. It is no different from wrecking an oil tanker in the sea just to kill off the life in the ocean. Abortion stops the life that is developing in the womb. This is not an action that can be said to be moral, since it is against nature.

Morality is conformity with rational nature, as Aristotle argues in the Nicomachean Ethics. Rational nature rests on principles that have been defined by philosophers such as Aristotle for many centuries. As Donald Regan notes, “self-subsistent principles about what are good states of affairs, or activities” must serve as the basis of rational nature. Rational nature has no meaning or value if it does not rest upon an objective good that is discernible by way of the human senses. A thing is determined to be good if it acts in accordance with its nature. For example, an apple tree is supposed to grow and produce apples. If it does, then it is judged a good tree. If it does not, it is judged to be a bad tree. An apple tree that produces plums would be against nature and therefore an abomination. Likewise a woman’s body is designed to conceive, bear, and carry a child to full term and give birth to it into the world. This is the natural progression of events following procreation in which conception takes place. To go against the rational nature is to….....

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Works Cited

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics, transl. Robert C. Bartlett & Susan D. Collins. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2011.

Regan, Donald. “The Value of Rational Nature.” Ethics: An International Journal of Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy, 112, 2, 2002, 267-292.

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