PHL 130: Moral Philosophy

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2021/10/15
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Abortion

Given the circumstances between Dante and Beatrice, I do believe it would be morally legitimate for Beatrice to get an abortion because they both practiced safe sex in an attempt to avoid getting pregnant. Although, in my opinion, I believe that it would be morally legitimate in any circumstance for a woman to have an abortion because a woman has complete autonomy over her body, just as any person would and should.

I hold this position because I believe no matter what, nobody should dictate how a person lives and what they do to their bodies. Having a child is a drastic change to not only your mind and body but your life and future, it is an important decision that requires thought and planning. Nobody should be forced to be put through that change, no matter the circumstances. A woman should always have complete control on whether or not she wants to undergo those changes just as people get to decide whether or not they want to be organ donors.

Pertaining to the argument at hand, it reminds me of Thomson’s analogy of the person plant – if people seeds drift in the air like pollen and you fix up your windows with mesh screens to the best of your ability, yet somehow, one of the screens is defective and a seed drifts in and takes root despite your efforts in avoiding it, it should not have a right to use your house and you should be able to make the decision to either allow it or terminate it (Thomson 59). Given this logic, it would be morally legitimate for Beatrice to get an abortion, considering all the steps were taken to prevent it but some would still argue that it is not morally legitimate because of various reasons.

One possible objection against abortion is, especially in regard to Beatrice and Dante is that if a woman is willing to have sex, she is knowingly taking the risk of getting pregnant and should be responsible for her actions (1). Not to mention, a fetus is a human being that has the right to life and this right to life (2), outweighs the right to terminate the pregnancy (excluding extreme cases). Given the first part of this argument, I’d argue that it holds no basis in this conversation because the other side is simply asserting their opinion.

They believe the most responsible thing to do when a woman gets pregnant is to have the baby, but I’d suggest that the most responsible thing for a woman to do if she gets pregnant is to terminate it, knowing that she cannot provide for it or if it is unwanted which will prevent undue suffering for both parties. I would also argue that having sex is not consenting to having a child and it isn’t a responsibility that should be attached to having sex – especially if you did everything in your power to prevent it (in Dante and Beatrice’s case).

Although to have a baby (traditional sense), you must have sex, it is not the only reason to have sex and to those that argue “if you don’t want to have a child, then don’t have sex” – which is what you are implying for the first part of the argument – is just unreasonable. For example, let’s compare it to a car. If you are driving a car, getting into an accident is a possibility and just because you are driving, does not mean you invite that possibility. It is simply a negative aspect to driving (like all things have) but you can’t expect people to not drive because of it.

If we explored this analogy more, consider after you get into the accident, you have two options: buy a new car or spend money to get the same one fixed. People could have their opinions on what you should do but at the end of the day, it is your car and your money, so the decision is ultimately up to you on whether or not you want to buy a new car or keep the same one and get it fixed. Same applies to pregnancy, it is up to the woman to decide what the most responsible thing for her to do in those circumstances.

Furthermore, if you’re implying that it is a woman’s responsibility to have a child if she chooses to have sex, it’s more of an argument towards, telling what a woman’s role and purpose is and less of an argument about the life of the child. Not to mention, the unbalanced reasoning, arguments and affects in the event of the pregnancy with woman and men. For instance, the disadvantages in employment, responsibility, finances, and even social standing.

Moving on to the second part of the argument – which has always been a tricky matter – on whether or not, a fetus is a person. This has always been in question and this is because that is the premise in which most “pro-life” arguments are based on; therefore, it will always be a topic that must be considered and brought up when debating abortion especially when the number one objection is that “abortion is murder”.

To begin this comprehension, we must determine when personhood begins within a fetus. Personhood begins after a fetus is able to survive outside the womb or after birth, not at conception. To further this point, consider how a person’s age is calculated in the U.S. Census – where fetuses (the unborn) are not counted. Not to mention, the biological development that needs to take place (29th-30th week, which is well over the amount of time to be able to permit an abortion), in order for a fetus to be considered or in the condition of what an individual person is and the genetic/ biological makeup of it i.e., the experience of any feelings like pain.

This alone, takes away from the “a fetus is a human being that has the right to life” argument but let’s consider if this was not true and a fetus was considered a person with a right to life. The next viable discourse would be, if the right to life outweighs the mother’s right to have an abortion (excluding extreme cases). This is similar to Marquis’ article and the objections against his views – like, the “right to life” does not imply a right to use somebody else’s body just as the people have the right to refuse to donate their organs, even if doing so would save somebody else’s life.

And even if the fetus is a person and has a right to life, abortion is morally legitimate and permissible because a woman has a right to control her own body and its life support functions. Let’s dig deeper into this proposition, the “wrongness” of abortion is the act of “killing” an innocent being and in Marquis’ terms, depriving someone of all experiences, activities, projects and enjoyments of one’s future (Marquis 194), yet this same argument should apply to the woman.

If a woman wants an abortion, having that child would rob her of those same things and the future she wants. Some might rebuttal with, “well at least, she has a future whereas the child wouldn’t have one”. Yet, that is simply an unreasonable and inequitable response because it is her life and her body that would be forced to change because of something that presumably has more rights to her will and future than she does. That breaks the foundation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which can be the greatest misfortune to happen to someone.

This point can also be illuminated through Warren’s article, in the example of the space explorer being captured – that no matter how it happened (or how the space explorer got captured), a person is not morally obligated to remain in “captivity” for the sake of allowing a potential person to come into existence because it is their body and they have complete control and rights to it. “…a woman’s right to protect her health, happiness, freedom, and even her life, by terminating an unwanted pregnancy, will always override whatever right to life it may be appropriate to ascribe to a fetus, even a fully developed one” (Warren 60).

To follow up with the previous objection, a common argument is that abortion is morally permissible and legitimate only in extreme cases, like rape. This brings fault to the “pro-life” stance because it raises the question, why in only those cases? If you are truly fighting for the lives of the children, it shouldn’t matter how that life was conceived. In some sense, you are implying that the lives of children who were conceived under those circumstances are worth less than the alternative.

If the life of the child takes primacy over the desires and wants of the woman (what is being entailed, if you are “pro-life”), then it should not matter how that life was conceived, only the livelihood of the fetus. Considering, you accept this reasoning and believe that fetus takes primacy over the woman in any circumstances, even rape, it brings fault to the argument in another way – the protection and livelihood of the mother, who’s rights are, if not more but just as important as the child.

A last objection against abortion, would be an alternative choice which applies to Dante and Beatrice’s situation. Some argue that adoption is another viable option instead of terminating the pregnancy. Saying that a woman can give the child up for adoption instead of having an abortion brings two schools of thought. The first, is that it refuses to acknowledge the other factors that come into play with actually going through with the pregnancy.

First and foremost, you are carrying another being inside of you to full term which causes the woman to take off from work, it puts her body through drastic changes that is not only painful but can cause physical and mental illness that sometimes even lead to death and so on. And especially in Beatrice’s case, being shunned and shamed by her peers and having to take months out of her life, especially in college, to go through these changes instead of simply aborting it, is farce. Adoption doesn’t address these factors and it is unreasonable to expect anyone to do that, considering the cost and benefit.

In fact, women who receive abortions are less likely to suffer mental health problems than woman denied abortions (Pro-Con 1). The second school of thought is where these kids would go if they were put into the system. Only a small percentage of children actually get adopted, the rest are left in the foster care system and with money as an incentive, the reason most kids get placed in homes are so the caretakers can get a check. Children in the system rarely find safe, accepting, and loving homes. As this point can be proven with research and studies, the first school of thought is enough reason to dismiss the adoption argument and an alternative for Beatrice.

In conclusion, given the arguments for abortion and the circumstances that Dante and Beatrice find themselves in, I do believe that it would be morally legitimate for her to get an abortion. Because as iterated above, expecting people to not have sex at all is unreasonable and considering they have done everything in their power to prevent a pregnancy, she should not be expected to go through with it, if she does not want to. Additionally, it is her body and Beatrice has a fundamental right of complete autonomy over her body and its life-support functions and no argument or opinion can be more significant than that.

Bibliography:

  1. “Abortion Pro-Con.” ProCon, 11 Mar. 2019, 11:30:07 AM PST, abortion.procon.org/.
  2. Marquis, Don. “Why Abortion Is Immoral.” The Journal of Philosophy, pp. 183–202. Course Pack for PHL 130: Moral Philosophy Washington and Jefferson College Spring 2019.
  3. Thomson, Judith Jarvis. “A Defense of Abortion.” Wiley-Blackwell, vol. 1, pp. 47–66. Philosophy and Public Affairs, Blackwell Publishing, www.jstor.org/stable/2265091.
  4. Warren, Mary Anne. “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion.” Oxford University Press Journals, pp. 52–61. Course Pack for PHL 130: Moral Philosophy Washington and Jefferson College Spring 2019.

Citations:

  1. “Abortion Pro-Con.” ProCon, 11 Mar. 2019, 11:30:07 AM PST, abortion.procon.org/.
  2. Marquis, Don. “Why Abortion Is Immoral.” The Journal of Philosophy, pp. 183–202. Course Pack for PHL 130: Moral Philosophy Washington and Jefferson College Spring 2019.
  3. Thomson, Judith Jarvis. “A Defense of Abortion.” Wiley-Blackwell, vol. 1, pp. 47–66. Philosophy and Public Affairs, Blackwell Publishing, www.jstor.org/stable/2265091.
  4. Warren, Mary Anne. “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion.” Oxford University Press Journals, pp. 52–61. Course Pack for PHL 130: Moral Philosophy Washington and Jefferson College Spring 2019.”
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PHL 130: Moral Philosophy. (2021, Oct 15). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/phl-130-moral-philosophy/

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