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Why abortion is morally wrong

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No matter how you slice it, abortion is morally wrong. Although that should not be misinterpreted for a pro-life stance on abortion because there are numerous circumstances that must be considered in each situation. Just because abortion is morally impermissible, it does not mean that society will deem you a bad person for getting an abortion under extreme circumstances. For that reason, abortion is a specifically tricky topic to discuss. There is no clear-cut answer as to whether or not abortion should be allowed and because of that the government should not downright illegalize abortion. Following Don Marquis’ ideology, I agree that abortion is morally wrong because it deprives a being of a valuable future. In order to create a strong argument I will also be addressing the views of philosopher Judith Thomson. In Don Marquis’ article Why Abortion is Immoral, he makes the argument that abortion is on the same plane of immorality as killing an adult human. Marquis reasons this by explaining what is wrong with killing is that you are depriving someone of a future. He goes on to explain that you deprive them of a future of experiences, achievements, relationships, etc. Importantly, he notes that this does not only apply to humans but rather to all species, or anything with a future of value for that matter.

Furthermore, Marquis says that having a valuable future is not a necessary condition for killing to be immoral, but it is a sufficient reason, and that having a valuable future is not the only reason that killing a being could be wrong. Essentially, Marquis offers one explanation as to why killing could be immoral while clarifying that it could be one of many reasons for killing to be immoral. Marquis then connects this idea with abortion by saying that aborting a fetus is depriving a being of a valuable future. Regardless of what pro-choice or pro-life views somebody might have, the bottom line is that the fetus has the potential for a valuable future and by ending that life, you deprive the being of it’s valuable future. Some would claim that the fetus is either unaware of it’s valuable future and/or may not desire such a future. Marquis addresses these claims simply stating that just because the being may unaware, it does not mean that future of value is not there. Not allowing a being the potential for a future like ours (i.e. abortion) is immoral. Judith Thomson presents a very intriguing case in her article A Defense of Abortion.

While majority of Thomson’s argument explains why abortion should be morally permissible, she also present’s this violinist case: “But now let me ask you to imagine this. You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, “Look, we’re sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you-we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist now is plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it’s only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.” (Thomson, 49) This clearly alludes to an example of a case in which a woman was raped and impregnated. Thomson’s example allows me to address the majority of instances of rape cases, which also ties in with my position that decision making does not always have to follow what is or is not morally permissible.

Thomson presents a clear but unfortunate reality that society deals with much to often. At first thought, many people would deem the situation unfair and immediately request an abortion. In fact, if I were put into such a situation, I too would request to be unplugged from the violinist because I was unwillingly taken advantage of and do no want to have to deal with the issue. However, it does not change the fact that you are denying a being of a valuable future and for that reason I would say it is morally impermissible. I think it is undisputable that the situation is quite unfortunate and something that nobody deserves. With that established the question remains, is it moral to be unplugged (or get an abortion)? The answer is no, it is morally impermissible. I strongly agree with Marquis ideology that depriving a being of a future like ours is morally wrong. Regardless of the conditions, two wrongs will never make a right. In order for anyone to prevent a strong case for any argument, it is very important to address potential counterarguments. Let’s also consider that the focus of this paper is not to discuss pro-life vs. pro-choice but rather, the morality of abortion. I think that the most compelling counterargument is there simply cannot be one correct answer when it comes to abortion because there are so many variables that create unique circumstances.

Unfortunately, this is true and for that reason it is impossible to address each and every possible scenario. Instead, I can pose my theory for the morality of abortion in general. If I present the argument that abortion is morally wrong because it denies the potential future of a being, then it would be fair to say that not allowing an abortion denies the autonomy of a being to pursue the future they desire. It is indisputable that pregnancy and giving birth would have a great impact on the mother (and in majority of cases the father). So if abortion is immoral because it denies the future of a being, isn’t it essentially the same as forcing the mother and father’s life to change? You are speaking on the very same grounds as to the reasons for explain why abortion is immoral. At the end of the day, you denied a person the ability to pursue the future they desire. This counterargument poses a very realistic concern but it is one I believe to be dismissible. As I said, it is impossible to consider all scenarios and therefore we must establish general guidelines rather than an answer for every possible outcome.

The counterargument mentioned represents a misunderstanding in my thesis. I would like to acknowledge the fact that you are changing the potential future of the mother and father but that does not make it okay to get an abortion. In my eyes, there is a great difference between denying the future of a fetus and forcing the mother and father’s life to change. What I am saying is that although the mother and father’s life will be forever changed, you must consider that they are the only two people responsible for putting themselves in such a situation. By no means do I believe that not allowing an abortion is a good form of “punishment” for their mistake, but inevitably the future of one of the three parties involved is going to be altered. The most morally correct thing to do would be to avoid an abortion. It is not only immoral, but also unfair, to deny a being of a future in an attempt to correct a challenge to your own. In conclusion, abortion is morally impermissible in almost all cases but that does not necessarily mean that abortion is frowned upon in all cases. As I discussed, in an example of a rape case abortion is still immoral because you are depriving a being of a future like ours, yet society will not necessarily scold you for it. Otherwise, abortion is immoral because you and I have the same valuable future that a fetus has the potential for.


Marquis, Don. “Why Abortion Is Immoral.” N.p., 1989. Web. 08 May 2014. <https://myelms.umd.edu/courses/1056989/files/32707184?module_item_id=7195906>. Warren, Mary Anne. “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion.” N.p., 1973. Web. 08 May 2014. <https://myelms.umd.edu/courses/1056989/files/31386874?module_item_id=7083927>.

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