Saturday, 21 October 2017

A Question of Sentientence – Abortions Are Morally Acceptable

The purpose of this article is to show that Bonnie Steinbock is correct that abortions are morally acceptable. In her essay, “The Question of Abortion: Morally Acceptable,” she argues that abortions are morally acceptable because fetuses are not sentient and therefore lack interests and moral status. She also takes to task Don Marquis’ argument on abortion. Marquis argued that most abortions are immoral because they deprive the fetus of a future. The future of the fetus has value; therefore, to deny such a future is wrong. Steinbock feels that his premise is incorrect because a fetus is pre-human, only potential, not actual life. As such, it cannot possess any rights.

I agree with her argument and will give one example of my own to support it. Abortion is a private matter between the mother and her conscious. She is the one who has to make the decision to take her pregnancy to term or not. It is her personal affair and she is the one who has to deal with long term effects of her decision to abort, not society. Although it might be morally wrong to take a life, it is also morally wrong to bring a child into the world where he or she is not wanted.

Steinbock’s argument begins with the premise that abortion is not wrong because of the moral status of the fetus and the woman’s right to choice as to whether she wants to be pregnant. She believes that a fetus is not morally equivalent to a newborn baby because a newborn can feel pain, cries for attention or hunger and can be soothed, whereas a first-trimester fetus cannot think or feel and is more like a gamete, alive but basically a cell and cells do not have a moral status. She uses an interesting moral theory to further her argument, the “interest view.” According to the interest view, in order to be morally relevant, one must have interests. She contends that the possession of interests is required, focusing on what is important to the being itself rather than on the secondary value of the being to others. To have interests, a being must have conscious awareness, or sentience; it must matter to a being what happens to it, giving it moral status. According to science, fetuses cannot have interests because sentience for fetuses begins sometime between the late second trimester and the mid-third trimester. Therefore, according to this viewpoint, abortion is not morally wrong because fetuses are non-sentient beings and do not suffer any pain or are aware of what is going on. If a being has never experienced life, it cannot regret losing it.

She goes on to make objections to Marquis’ potentiality argument that killing a fetus is wrong, not because of its effects on the mother or abortionist, but because of its effects on the fetus: the loss of all potential for value in his or her future. From this viewpoint, contraception is wrong because it robs eggs and sperm from potentially fertilizing into a zygote, which a potential life source. She felt that he did not explain as to why fetuses have valuable life potential and gametes do not and therefore, the interest view theory is better than the potentiality theory.

The abortion debate is controversial. There are some who feel that there is no justification for the taking of an innocent life. But instead of looking at abortion as a method of murder, one should look at abortion as an issue of reproductive freedom for women. Women in society have come a long way and have attained educational and economic opportunities and should not have their reproductive rights taken away from them because of society’s personal morals.

In the later part of the 20th century, women were finally able to control their own reproduction, thus giving them more advantages in an inherently sexist society. If the right to choice is taken away on the basis of morals, women will resort to drastic measures as they did in the past. No one should bring a child into the world where he or she is not wanted. The child will feel the animosity from the moment he or she is born and will probably grow up to be a menace.

A man can withdraw from a relationship as soon as he finds out about a pregnancy. There is no question of his involvement after that; he has made his choice. He might be legally obligated to pay child support but he is not legally obligated to bond with the child. It is only fair to that women should be given the same choice. If a woman does not want the responsibility of a child, then she should be able to have the choice of abortion as one of her options. She has to deal with the ramifications of her choice. As stated earlier, although it might be morally wrong to take a life, it is also morally wrong to bring a child into the world where is not wanted. It might be cruel, but in light of some of the horrific child abuse that goes on, it probably would have been better for those children if their mothers had aborted them.


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