Ethics Paper #2

Ethics Paper #2 November 17, 2011

Leticia Adams


Professor Watkins


I would love to agree with Marquis. I think that abortion is immoral. But I do not agree with his argument. His argument is that abortion is immoral because of the value of the fetus’s future. One of his reasons for this is because he says that those opposed to abortion can’t prove personhood. I strongly disagree.  His argument leaves open the door to the “good” future argument that I hear so often. If the fetus is pre-disposed to have a future of suffering and poverty then it is merciful to end the life of that fetus. In fact that is the current argument among pro-choicers.  “It is better for the woman to abort her child than for that child to grow up in poverty and suffer.” Or “It is the “responsible” thing to do to have an abortion rather than bring a child she can’t take care of into the world.” Marquis’ argument does nothing to help with these statements.

On page 91 Marquis says “Since we do believe that it is wrong to kill defenseless little babies, it is important that a theory of the wrongness of killing easily account for this.” I agree with this statement.  It is always morally wrong to deliberately, that is knowingly and willingly, kill an innocent person.  The argument of whether or not a fetus is a person is pretty simple. What is a person? Well as Peter Kreeft lays out in his “Pro-life Philosophy” audio lecture, these are the three options: 1.) all humans are persons and all persons are humans. There aren’t any non-human persons, and there aren’t any impersonal humans.   2.) A second option is that there are human persons and there are also non-human persons. Martians, ET, elves, fairies, Greek gods etc. You can at least imagine non-human persons so it is a meaningful concept whether or not you believe they exist.  3.) A third option is that the term person is not larger than the term human, but smaller. Some of us members of the human race, some human beings, are persons and some aren’t. The Nazis believed that Jews were not persons. The communist’s believed that Capitalists were not persons. The Supreme Court, according to the Dred Scott decision, believed that black slaves were three-fifths persons, not full persons.

The 3rd option is exactly what pro-choicers today are doing when they say that a human being in the womb is not a person. They are rationalizing abortion by saying that human beings in the womb are sub-human.  History has shown us time and time again that this argument that there are human beings who are not persons is a very dangerous argument and is responsible for the death of many innocent lives.

Pro-choice argument is that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is not a person. So when does one become a person? All of these are stages in the development of a human being. The same as infant, toddler, and teenager, adult, senior, etc. are all stages of human development? A zygote may not have all the systems  developed but does that mean it doesn’t have a right to life? Well a 5 year old isn’t fully developed so does a 5 year old have a right to life? At what stage in development do we have a right to live and a right to not be killed?

Or is it that personhood happens suddenly? And if so, at what point does it happen? The pro-choice argument is mostly that a fetus becomes a baby when they are born or viable. So for pro-choicers, personhood depends on passing through the vaginal canal, or a C-section and taking a first breath. That is not what Science says. In my Human Growth and Development class we learn that the process of growth and development starts at conception, not birth, regardless of what anyone’s opinion is.

If the case is that there is no right to life until after birth then why do we have laws that prosecute people who kill a woman AND her child if she is pregnant? What pro-choicers  are actually basing personhood on is the choice of the mother. If she Chooses to give birth the human being developing in her womb then it is a person and has a right to life. If she chooses not to give birth then it isn’t a person and has no rights. That is the only way someone who is pro-choice could give condolences to a friend who miscarries her “wanted” child or congratulate a family member or friend who is pregnant with a “wanted” child. Because if they truly believed that the developing human being in the womb is not a person until birth, then they would do neither. They would wait until the fetus takes his or her first breath and then congratulate the mother. And in the case of miscarriages, they would simply not see it as a loss. But that is not the case, because they are wrong. Nobody can choose when life begins. It isn’t an opinion or choice, it is scientific fact.

Is abortion the killing of that human person in the womb? Well first we have to ask what is an abortion? There are a few definitions out there.  Here are some 1.) The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy (It’s interesting to note that we don’t hear this definition much anymore) 2.) Ending a pregnancy, and 3.) As the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo before it is viable. The common word in all three definitions is pregnancy, and we are talking about humans so it’s clear to assume that we mean human pregnancies. A human is pregnant with a human fetus. Not a cat fetus or a bird fetus or any other kind of fetus. In fact the definition of the word fetus is:  An unborn offspring of a mammal, in particular an unborn human baby more than eight weeks after conception. Before that it is an embryo and before that it is a zygote. A woman is pregnant with a human person and an abortion stops that person from continuing with development. It is a deliberate and willful act that ends the life of an innocent human person. (FYI abortion up to 40 weeks is legal in the USA. Even viable fetuses are aborted. In fact the Planned Parenthood in Austin will abort up to 24 weeks. The youngest known pre-mature baby to live was born at 22 weeks. Her name is Amillia and was born at Miami hospital in 2007.)

A human being developing in the womb is a human person in various states of development, and has done nothing to warrant death. Therefore, he or she is an innocent human person with the right to live and we have an ethical obligation to protect that right. Because, if killing defenseless and innocent human beings is not wrong then what is?

In conclusion, if it is always wrong to deliberately kill an innocent human being (which our laws currently state) and if abortion deliberately kills an innocent person, then abortion is always morally wrong. Always; just as rape is always morally wrong.


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