Abortion is not just a moral or legal issue it is worldwide a religious and social issue. It has been discussed for years and yet we can not say whether it should be done or not. Many great philosophers had previously tried to put forth his views on this but still it is controversial issue. What is the question about? Should abortion be legalised? Do fetuses have right to live? Are pregnant women deprived from her right to freedom or privacy? Who has right to decide whether abortion should be done or not? We cannot generalise the way to decide abortion should be done or not because it depends on an individual or the situation. The debate revolves around two positions Pro-life and Pro-choice. Pro-life talks about woman have the right to decide on herself whether she should continue with the pregnancy or terminate it.
On the other side Pro-choice thinks about the right of the foetus to live and born. If we say that abortion is a right thing to do it does not mean it is right in every case it does not apply for a couple who wants to abort because they want a baby boy and they are having a baby girl in her womb same way saying abortion is morally incorrect does not apply for the cases where it is the only possible and necessary thing to do. Who is the victim of this debate the mother or the foetus? People who believes in pro-life considers women as victim and defends her which some of pro-choice people talks about foetus as victim and tries to save their life. Now let us move toward what some ethical theory or some principals have to say about abortion. Now let us see this topic with Utilitarian view. Utilitarian principle states that “Something is moral or good if it produces greatest happiness of finest quality for huge amount of people “. Rights and wrongs of any situation should be decided on the amount of pain and pleasure received by the process. It is more dependent on the results of particular action and not on the intention.
First position can be utilitarian who says abortion is unethical, they believe that baby will give them happiness once it is born. Other states that if mother does not want baby and if family forces her to have child it will lead to pain or sorrow of the mother and it will definitely affect the child as it is unwanted, so if mother does not wish to have a baby she should be given choice to follow what she wants. Basically, utilitarian people will support abortion if its for everyone’s good. Let us see some cases where abortion can be done. Firstly, if woman is working women and she conceives accidentally and she do not want to continue her pregnancy as she wants to pursue her job and take it to high levels and she feels that if she will have a child it would be barrier to her. Here utilitarian will support because family also wants her daughter to be successful and want her to be happy over the happiness of one who is yet unborn. So overall happiness is in aborting the baby so it is ethical. Next is let us think of a case where a girl is raped and she gets pregnant. Now if court does not allow her to abort. She will be trapped with the baby which is unwanted and the result of the incident which was so painful. So, every day she will realize that she was raped and when the baby will grow up, he/she will ask about his/her father. And also, the society will never leave chance to talk ill about it and giving up the baby for adoption once it is born is also very hard to accept as she had been connected to the baby emotionally for months. So, in this case also thinking of abortion is what utilitarian will support for the happiness of girl and her family. There is a newlywed couple who wants to settle in his life and then wants to think about having a baby but woman gets accidently pregnant then they should be given choice whether to continue or withdraw because they were not prepared for child either mentally emotionally or financially. Bringing baby to the world in these circumstances might lead to discomfort and it is possible that they will not be capable of providing needs of the baby. If a model or a sports woman gets pregnant, what to do? she is in dilemma whether to continue or not. Should she think about her baby or her future? If she wants to abort she should be given choice as her main earning is through her body and once a woman delivers a baby her body is changed. She gets scars she get fat stored all over her body. Here if she chooses to abort it is what utilitarian will support as it is for her happiness. Mill believes in individual rights and will support abortion in all cases. It will disapprove it in some exceptional or few cases only where it is really wrong to do so. Now let us see some of the Peter Singer’s view on abortion. He explains by taking the example when the technique of IVF was researched many attempts were failed and for that artificial embryo many human embryos were killed for the experiment purpose.
So was it wrong to kill human embryos. No because now this technique is giving life to so many new embryos and many couples are getting their desired happiness. In the formation of one embryo many embryos are formed, then they are stored and frozen. Which later can be given to couples having serious fertilization issue or can be used for research purpose. His central argument contained following premises: It is wrong to kill innocent human being. Fetus is a human being. Therefore, it is wrong killing fetus. Peter argues against second premise that fetus is a human being. How can an unborn have fundamental rights. Fetus is not rational being as until some stage of pregnancy he/she cannot feel anything. So, pain is not familiar to him. So, it ethical to kill the embryo. It means that we cannot give any fundamental right to embryo depriving the fundamental right of the mother. He says killing of embryo is permissible but killing of born child is not as once it is born it will have set of rights and he will also feel pain so we cannot kill born child. If woman has serious set of problems continuing the pregnancy after stage of permissible abortion, she can abort as her life might be at stake if child is born. As Peter states that if a woman is pregnant in some developed city with all high medical services then she should not abort baby due to any medical reason as it can be avoided but if she travels to another remote city and then if this type of situation arises then decision can be taken thinking about new situations.
So, decision can vary on the situations. He also says that if an infant is born it is totally dependent on her mother for everything. Do this dependency gives her the right to kill the baby? If not then it is very hard to say what justifies this. There is law for prohibition of abortion which means act of doing abortion is illegal. But do this really stop the practice of abortion. No, instead it is performed in a manner that no one gets to know about it. So, Peter says that it is not the right way against abortion. Instead women would go to a clinic which performs it illegally and will put her life in danger and also this law will bring difficulties for her life. This argument can be proved wrong as awareness should be spread for the women who gets pregnant unintentionally, so rate of abortion decreases. Due to this, first argument failed and did not did well. Peter’s second argument supports Mill’s thinking of liberty. Mill also had restricted the law of liberty to the condition that is should not harm others. Last argument was feminist one. Instead of thinking about the right of embryo to live, right of women to choose what should be done with her body is more prominent as it is going to affect her body. Famous example is stated by Judith Jarvis of a sickly violinist which says that one day you wake up and found out that you are in hospital with some stranger who is famous violinist and doctor informs you that he has some kidney ailment to cure and for its cure they need one person of same blood group to operate on her kidney for some months and only you are the ideal match. Now will you allow another person to operate on your heart? If you will withdraw he will certainly die. Same can be compared with pregnant woman and baby. By saving one’s life we are harming other. He says that abortion is allowed if pregnancy happened due to contraceptive failure as they intended to avoid it. Bentham was a philosopher from Britain, he is also known as father of modern utilitarianism. Bentham too had supported Mill saying that women had a right to abort at any time. It is right as it will be in benefit of women, mother and child too. If woman do not wish to have a baby and we force her to have a baby, then when baby will be born she will not take care of baby as it is unwanted or undesired. So, in such cases where women don’t wish to get pregnant should be allowed to abort as if not allowed it will give pain to baby as love and care he needs will not be provided. But do Bentham support abortion of baby merely due to its gender? No, it’s not ethical to kill a baby due to its gender. Consider a case where women have twin babies in her womb and doctor asks her to give up on one baby as if she demanded to bring both, life of both will be at stake. So, she had to kill one in order to save one, here also it is ethical to kill one baby before it is born. Also, in some cases it happens that baby in womb might have some health-related issues or some mental incapability or physical defect, doctor informs mother as soon as they found this type of problem. Here mother need to take this difficult decision, abortion is good thing to thought of because baby will suffer his whole life and also mother has to look for the baby for long and dependence of baby in such cases is more than normal ones. If a prostitute gets to know that she is carrying a baby, then she will definitely not continue and seek for abortion as she does not want to obstruct her earning and also, she would not like to nurture baby in such conditions. Some women seek for abortion because they feel that her family is not capable to treat child well and give him/her good virtues and she do not want her child to be like her in-laws. In some cases, she is under pressure of the family as they might not want the baby too early as in some family younger brother cannot think of having a baby if elder brother is not yet in their parenthood. Many women need to abort forcefully as in-laws illegally had performed sex determination test and it was baby-girl. Women might need to abort because she had been facing difficulties in their marriage life and she had decided to first resolve that issues and then do family planning. And what about the young couples who are even too young to get married and falls into such situation, they need to abort it as if they do not perform so they might get into big trouble. Pregnancy also includes serious physical pain like backbone, headache, in some cases of surgery she might have some permanent issues. It also leads to varying mood swings and it also affects her marriage life in greater or small aspect. Also delivering baby is not an easy task it includes pain to great extend then mother has to breast feed the baby for a year. Consider a case where mother is suffering from serious contagious disease or disease which can be inherited like AIDS, then if she wishes she could be allowed to abort her baby because if baby is born there are high chances that he/she could also suffer from this disease. Kant was also one of the philosophers who has a say on this topic.
Actually, he has not given specific criteria to decide whether abortion is permissible or not. Every other philosopher had tried to derive his views in this context. His classical theory says that we all were fetus at some point of time if we were asked whether we would like to like then we would obviously say yes, then how can we deny the fact that fetus also has a potential life and wants to like. By doing so we are contradicting our statement. So, his main argument was first if you support abortion it means you support it in all means. Secondly you do give consent if the fetus were you so you do not support this means we are not consistent about our argument on abortion. Other philosopher who tries to explain Kant’s theory says that life starts from the very start when sperm fertilizes ovum. It has potential life from that very beginning so we have no right to stop him/her from enjoying his/her right to live. Some may argue that we have right to live but it doesn’t give us right to kill someone else even to enjoy our right to live so it indirectly states that during pregnancy even if mother’s life is in danger she should give birth to the child. It might be possible that if a couple is having some issues and not paying attention to each other then birth of a new baby may resolve their issue and may bring them closer. Also, if she is not receiving love from her in-laws because they had love marriage against their will or any other reason, then it is possible that baby helps her to get close to them and in-laws shower her some love. In many cases it happens that couple is not mature enough, here if baby is born it might bring stability in their life. Almost all the religions oppose the permissibility of abortion because the believe that the right to birth or death is only in the hands of god, we are no one to decide this.
So, we should not kill innocent babies in the womb. While some religions believe that heart of the baby is formed after 20 weeks, so we cannot say that the fetus has life and allows us to abort in early stage of pregnancy. After discussing all this, still we cannot conclude that abortion is permissible in every case. Because it depends on the individual case. Do we really have the right to decide about someone else’s life? Do women have the right to kill someone because it is in her womb? Is right to life prior than right to privacy? It is difficult for anyone to answer all this question as no one can decide it in just or moral way.
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