Legal Status of the Fetus Essay

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There is a lot of discussion on the moral standing of fetuses at an early stage and the issues that revolve around the choice of whether to abort or not. There has been one strong position that has been ignored in the whole debate. Consequently, liberalism has taken center stage. According to Harman (1999), the Actual Future Principle, the actual future of a fetus determines whether or not a pregnancy should be aborted. The principle points to two kinds of early fetuses. In the postulation, early fetuses that die early go through their entire existence without properties that confer moral status on them. However, an early fetus that is bound to grow into a person is different. Such a fetus will in time have the complete moral status of a human being. That is a good reason to think that even now, it has moral status to some extent (Harman, 1999).

AFP says that early fetuses have their moral statuses in contingent form. Thus, in the evaluation of events on moral grounds, it is prudent to assess actual events with respect to moral counterfactual status of the fetuses in point. The first claim of the objector analyses an actual event in which the actual moral status of early fetuses that would be absent in the counterfactual event. This is the point where the objector loses the point (Harman, 1999).

Women have been found to regret the abortion act but not the choice to do so. This is thought to be incompatible with the full liberal view of abortion. Women are upset by abortion. This something is not about uncertainties that surround the procedure. These experiences can only be explained by the possibility that the women recognize that they have engaged in a morally significant event and have found truth that they have failed the moral test. The liberal view ignores these facts (Harman, 1999).

How important is biological development and is there a non-arbitrary way of defining person-hood?

The central concepts that form the foundation of our understanding of the world around us are devoid of definitions. Concepts such as time space and life may carry clear meanings so as to make them helpful in daily circumstances. Efforts to outline their definitive meanings rigorously have brought their seeming simplicity to the fore (Farah & Heberlein, 2007).

The same can be said of our concept of a person. We do not usually think about what to consider as a person. It is a general point that all humans qualify to be persons while other things don't. The idea of defining a person has been a hot topic among philosophers for many centuries. The first clear definition of a person was provided by Boethius; a philosopher who defined a person in terms of an individual substance that is rational in nature (Singer 1994). Indeed, cognitive properties such as being rational have formed a significant part of the subsequent attempts of defining personhood. The two most influential and known accounts, i.e. the ones by John Locke Emanuel Kant, also incorporate aspects of rationality in the definition. There were three critical characteristics of personhood, according to Locke. Self-awareness and how it is linked by one's memory across space and time. He defines a person as an intelligent being that has reflection and reason and such considers itself the same thinking patterns across time and space (Locke, 1997). Kant includes intelligence in his definition but it's restricted to its role in helping a person to act morally. For Kant, being able to distinguish between things and persons and treat each of these accordingly, is fundamental. Persons, according to Kant, have an intrinsic value. In contrast, things may only matter because of their utility value or desirability. People have dignity, according to Kant (Kant 1948).

It is easier and understandable to focus our efforts on more empirical definitions of personhood. There may be a natural kind that denotes persons. Thus, if we succeed in collecting the right data, we may be able to discover its salient properties. Such an approach calls for a clear scientific criteria that aligns well with the intuitions of most people relating to personhood. Such intuitions could take the place of intuition in cases where intuitions do not agree. Neuroscience is the precise science area from which to seek answers. The brain of a human being is responsible for the abilities that are essential for personhood as identified by Locke and his successors. These properties include self-awareness, rationality, self-awareness, intelligence cognition on the future, mental states, linguistic communication, mental states about others' mental states and consciousness across the board (Farah &

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Farah, M., & Heberlein, A. (2007). Personhood and Neuroscience: Naturalizing or Nihilating? The American Journal of Bioethics, 37 -- 48.

Harman, E. (1999). Creation Ethics: The moral status of early fetuses and the ethics of abortion. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 310-324.

Kant, I. 1948. Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals. In The moral law: Kant's groundwork of the metaphysics of morals, ed. H. J. Paton, X -- XX. London, UK: Hutchinson.

Locke, J. 1997. An essay concerning human understanding. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books

Marquis, D. (1989). Why abortion is immoral. The Journal of Philosophy, 183-202.

Sexinfo. (2014). Arguments For and Against Abortion. Retrieved from

Thomson, J. J. (1971). A Defense of Abortion. Philosophy & Public Affairs.

Singer, P. 1994. Rethinking life and death: The collapse of our traditional ethics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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