An Argument That Abortion Is Wrong
Don Marquis is Professor of Philosophy at the University of
The purpose of this essay is to set out an argument the claim that abortion, except perhaps in instances, is seriously wrong. One reason for these exceptions is to eliminate from consideration cases whose ethical analysis should be controversial detailed for clear-headed opponents of abortion. Such cases include abortion after rape and abortion during the first fourteen days after conception when there is an argument that the fetus is not definitely an individual. Another reason for making these exceptions allow for those cases in which the permissibility of abortion is compatible with the argument of this essay. Such cases include abortion when continuation of a pregnancy endangers a woman's life and when the fetus is anencephalic. When I wrongness of abortion in this essay, a reader she presume the above qualifications. I mean by an abortion an action intended to bring about the death of a fetus for the sake of the woman who carries it. (Thus, as is standard on the literature on this subject, I eliminanate spontaneous abortions from consideration.) I mean by a fetus a developing human being from
time of conception to the time of birth. (Thus, as is standard, I call embryos and zygotes, fetuses.)
The argument of this essay will establish that abortion is wrong for the same reason as killing a reader of this essay is wrong. I shall just assume, rather than establish, that killing you is seriously wrong. I shall make no attempt to offer a complete ethics of killing. Finally, I shall make no attempt to resolve some very fundamental and difficult general philosophical issues into which this analysis of the ethics of abortion might lead.
WHY THE DEBATE OVER ABORTION SEEMS INTRACTABLE
Symmetries that emerge from the analysis of the major arguments on either side of the abortion debate may explain why the abortion debate seems intractable. Consider the following standard anti-abortion argument: Fetuses are both human and alive. Humans have the right to life. Therefore, fetuses have the right to life. Of course, women have the right to control their own bodies, but the right to life overrides the right of a woman to control her own body. Therefore, abortion is wrong.
Judith Thomson (1971) has argued that even if one grants (for the sake of argument only) that fetuses have the right to life, this argument fails. Thomson invites you to imagine that you have been connected while sleeping, bloodstream to bloodstream, to a famous violinist. The violinist, who suffers from a rare blood disease, will die if disconnected. Thomson argues that you surely have the right to disconnect yourself. She appeals to our intuition that having to lie in bed with a violinist for an indefinite period is too much for morality to demand. She supports this claim by noting that the body being used is your body, not the violinist's body. She distinguishes the right to life, which the violinist clearly has, from the right to use someone else's body when necessary to preserve one's life, which it is not at all obvious the violinist has. Because the case of pregnancy is like the case of the violinist, one is no more morally obligated to remain attached to a fetus than to remain attached to the violinist.
It is widely conceded that one can generate from Thomson's vivid case the conclusion that abortion is morally permissible when a pregnancy is due to rape (Warren, 1973, p. 49; and Steinbock, 1992, p. 79). But this is hardly a general right to abortion. Do Thomson's more general theses generate a more general right to an abortion? Thomson draws our attention to the fact that in a pregnancy, although a fetus uses a woman's body as a life-support system, a pregnant woman does not use a fetus's body as a life-support system. However, an opponent of abortion might draw our attention to the fact that in an abortion the life that is lost is the fetus's, not the woman's. This symmetry seems to leave us with a stand-off.
Thomson points out that a fetus's right to life does not entail its right to use someone else's body to preserve its life. However, an opponent of abortion might point out that a woman's right to use her own body does not entail her right to end someone else's life in order to do what she wants with her body. In reply, one might argue that a pregnant woman's right to control her own body doesn't come to much if it is wrong for her to take any action that ends the life of the fetus within her. However, an opponent of abortion can argue that the fetus's right to life doesn't come to much if a pregnant woman can end it when she chooses. The consequence of all of these symmetries seems to be a stand-off. But if we have the stand-off, then one might argue that we are left with a conflict of rights: a fetal right to life versus the right of a woman to control her own body. One might then argue that the right to life seems to be a stronger right than the right to control one's own body in the case of abortion because the loss of one's life is a greater loss than the loss of the right to control one's own body in one respect for nine months. Therefore, the right to life overrides the right to control one's own body and abortion is wrong. Considerations like these have suggested to both opponents of abortion and supporters of choice that a Thomsonian strategy for de-
fending a general right to abortion will not succeed (Tooley, 1972; Warren, 1973; and Steinbock, 1992). In fairness, one must note that Thomson did not intend her strategy to generate a general moral permissibility of abortion.
Do Fetuses Have the Right to Life?
The above considerations suggest that whether abortion is morally permissible boils down to the question of whether fetuses have the right to life. An argument that fetuses either have or lack the right to life must be based upon some general criterion for having or lacking the right to life. Opponents of abortion, on the one hand, look around for the broadest possible plausible criterion, so that fetuses will fall under it. This explains why classic arguments against abortion appeal to the criterion of being human (Noonan, 1970; Beckwith, 1993). This criterion appears plausible: The claim that all humans, whatever their race, gender, religion or age, have the right to life seems evident enough. In addition, because the fetuses we are concerned with do not, after all, belong to another species, they are clearly human. Thus, the syllogism that generates the conclusion that fetuses have the right to life is apparently sound.
On the other hand, those who believe abortion is morally permissible wish to find a narrow, but plausible, criterion for possession of the right to life so that fetuses will fall outside of it. This explains, in part, why the standard pro-choice arguments in the philosophical literature appeal to the criterion of being a person (Feinberg, 1986; Tooley, 1972; Warren, 1973; Benn, 1973; Engelhardt, 1986). This criterion appears plausible: The claim that only persons have the right to life seems evident enough. Furthermore, because fetuses neither are rational nor possess the capacity to communicate in complex ways nor,possess a concept of self that continues through time, no fetus is a person. Thus, the syllogism needed to generate the conclusion that no fetus possesses the right to life is apparently sound. Given that no fetus possesses the right to life, a woman's right to control her own body easily generates the general right to abortion. The existence of two apparently defensible syllogisms which support contrary conclusions helps to explain why partisans on both sides of the abortion dispute often regard their opponents as either morally depraved or mentally deficient.
Which syllogism should we reject? The anti-abortion syllogism is usually attacked by attacking its major premise: the claim that whatever is biologically human has the right to life. This premise is subject to scope problems because the class of the biologically human includes too much: human cancer-cell cultures are biologically human, but they do not have the right to life. Moreover, this premise also is subject to moral-relevance problems: the connection between the biological and the moral is merely assumed. It is hard to think of a good argument for such a connection. If one wishes to consider the category of "human" a moral category, as some people find it plausible to do in other contexts, then one is left with no way of showing that the fetus is fully human without begging the question. Thus, the classic anti-abortion argument appears subject to fatal difficulties.
These difficulties with the classic anti-abortion argument are well known and thought by many to be conclusive. The symmetrical difficulties with the classic pro-choice syllogism are not as well recognized. The pro-choice syllogism can be attacked by attacking its major premise: Only persons have the right to life. This premise is subject to scope problems because the class of persons includes too little: infants, the severely retarded, and some of the mentally ill seem to fall outside the class of persons as the supporter of choice understands the concept. The premise is also subject to moral-relevance problems:
Being a person is understood by the pro-choicer as having certain psychological attributes. If the prochoicer questions the connection between the biological and the moral, the opponent of abortion can question the connection between the psychological and the moral. If one wishes to consider "person" a moral category, as is often done, then one is left with no way of showing that the fetus is not a person without begging the question.
Pro-choicers appear to have resources for dealing with their difficulties that opponents of abortion lack. Consider their moral-relevance problem. A pro-
choicer might argue that morality rests on contractual foundations and that only those who have the psychological attributes of persons are capable of entering into the moral contract and, as a consequence, being a member of the moral community. (This is essentially Engelhardt's  view.) The great advantage of this contractarian approach to morality is that it seems far more plausible than any approach the anti-abortionist can provide. The great disadvantage of this contractarian approach to morality is that it adds to our earlier scope problems by leaving it unclear how we can have the duty not to inflict pain and suffering on animals.
Contractarians have tried to deal with their scope problems by arguing that duties to some individuals who are not persons can be justified even though those individuals are not contracting members of the moral community. For example, Kant argued that, although we do not have direct duties to animals, we "must practice kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men" (Kant, 1963, p. 240). Feinberg argues that infanticide is wrong, not because infants have the right to life, but because our society's protection of infants has social utility. If we do not treat infants with tenderness and consideration, then when they are persons they will be worse off and we will be worse off also (Feinberg, 1986, p. 271).
These moves only stave off the difficulties with the pro-choice view; they do not resolve them. Consider Kant's account of our obligations to animals. Kantians certainly know the difference between persons and animals. Therefore, no true Kantian would treat persons as she would treat animals. Thus, Kant's defense of our duties to animals fails to show that Kantians have a duty not to be cruel to animals. Consider Feinberg's attempt to show that infanticide is wrong even though no infant is a person. All Feinerg really shows is that it is a good idea to treat with care and consideration the infants we intend to keep. That is quite compatible with killing the infants we intend to discard. This point can be supported by an analogy with which any pro-choicer will agree. There are plainly good reasons to treat with care and consideration the fetuses we intend to keep. This is quite compatible with aborting those fetuses we intend to discard. Thus, Feinberg's account of the wrongness of infanticide is inadequate.
Accordingly, we can see that a contractarian defense of the pro-choice personhood syllogism fails. The problem arises because the contractarian cannot account for our duties to individuals who are not persons, whether these individuals are animals or infants. Because the pro-choicer wishes to adopt a narrow criterion for the right to life so that fetuses will not be included, the scope of her major premise is too narrow. Her problem is the opposite of the problem the classic opponent of abortion faces.
The argument of this section has attempted to establish, albeit briefly, that the classic anti-abortion argument and the pro-choice argument favored by most philosophers both face problems that are mirror images of one another. A stand-off results. The abortion debate requires a different strategy.
THE "FUTURE LIKE OURS" ACCOUNT OF THE WRONGNESS OF KILLING
Why do the standard arguments in the abortion debate fail to resolve the issue? The general principles to which partisans in the debate appeal are either truisms most persons would affirm in the absence of much reflection, or very general moral theories. All are subject to major problems. A different approach is needed.
Opponents of abortion claim that abortion is wrong because abortion involves killing someone like us, a human being who just happens to be very young. Supporters of choice claim that ending the life of a fetus is not in the same moral category as ending the life of an adult human being. Surely this controversy cannot be resolved in the absence of an account of what it is about killing us that makes killing us wrong. On the one hand, if we know what property we possess that makes killing us wrong, then we can ask whether fetuses have the same property. On the other hand, suppose that we do not know what it is about us that makes killing us wrong. If this
is so, we do not understand even easy cases in which killing is wrong. Surely, we will not understand the ethics of killing fetuses, for if we do not understand easy cases, then we will not understand hard cases. Both pro-choicer and anti-abortionist agree that it is obvious that it is wrong to kill us. Thus, a discussion of what it is about us that makes killing us not only wrong, but seriously wrong, seems to be the right place to begin a discussion of the abortion issue.
Who is primarily wronged by a killing? The wrong of killing is not primarily explained in terms of the loss to the family and friends of the victim. Perhaps the victim is a hermit. Perhaps one's friends find it easy to make new friends. The wrong of killing is not primarily explained in terms of the brutalization of the killer. The great wrong to the victim explains the brutalization, not the other way around. The wrongness of killing us is understood in terms of what killing does to us. Killing us imposes on us the misfortune of premature death. That misfortune underlies the wrongness.
Premature death is a misfortune because when one is dead, one has been deprived of life. This misfortune can be more precisely specified. Premature death cannot deprive me of my past life. That part of my life is already gone. If I die tomorrow or if I live thirty more years my past life will be no different. It has occurred on either alternative. Rather than my past, my death deprives me of my future, of the life that I would have lived if I had lived out my natural life span.
The loss of a future biological life does not explain the misfortune of death. Compare two scenarios: In the former I now fall into a coma from which I do not recover until my death in thirty years. In the latter I die now. The latter scenario does not seem to describe a greater misfortune than the former.
The loss of our future conscious life is what underlies the misfortune of premature death. Not any future conscious life qualifies, however. Suppose that I am terminally ill with cancer. Suppose also that pain and suffering would dominate my future conscious life. If so, then death would not be a misortune for me.
Thus, the misfortune of premature death consists of the loss to us of the future goods of consciousness.
What are these goods? Much can be said about this issue, but a simple answer will do for the purposes of this essay. The goods of life are whatever we get out of life. The goods of life are those items toward which we take a "pro" attitude. They are completed projects of which we are proud, the pursuit of our goals, aesthetic enjoyments, friendships, intellectual pursuits, and physical pleasures of various sorts. The goods of life are what makes life worth living. In general, what makes life worth living for one person will not be the same as what makes life worth living for another. Nevertheless, the list of goods in each of our lives will overlap. The lists are usually different in different stages of our lives.
What makes the goods of my future good for me? One possible, but wrong, answer is my desire for those goods now. This answer does not account for those aspects of my future life that I now believe I will later value, but about which I am wrong. Neither does it account for those aspects of my future that I will come to value, but which I don't value now. What is valuable to the young may not be valuable to the middle-aged. What is valuable to the middle-aged may not be valuable to the old. Some of life's values for the elderly are best appreciated by the elderly. Thus it is wrong to say that the value of my future to me is just what I value now. What makes my future valuable to me are those aspects of my future that I will (or would) value when I will (or would) experience them, whether I value them now or not.
It follows that a person can believe that she will have a valuable future and be wrong. Furthermore, a person can believe that he will not have a valuable future and also be wrong. This is confirmed by our attitude toward many of the suicidal. We attempt to save the lives of the suicidal and to convince them that they have made an error in judgment. This does not mean that the future of an individual obtains value from the value that others confer on it. It means that, in some cases, others can make a clearer judgment of the value of a person's future to that person than the person herself. This often happens when one's judgment concerning the value of one's own future is clouded by personal tragedy. (Compare the views of McInerney, 1990, and Shirley, 1995.)
Thus, what is sufficient to make killing us wrong,
in general, is that it causes premature death. Premature death is a misfortune. Premature death is a misfortune, in general, because it deprives an individual of a future of value. An individual's future will be valuable to that individual if that individual will come, or would come, to value it. We know that killing us is wrong. What makes killing us wrong, in general, is that it deprives us of a future of value. Thus, killing someone is wrong, in general, when it deprives her of a future like ours. I shall call this "an FLO."
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF THE FLO THEORY
At least four arguments support this FLO account of the wrongness of killing.
The Considered Judgment Argument
The FLO account of the wrongness of killing is correct because it fits with our considered judgment concerning the nature of the misfortune of death. The analysis of the previous section is an exposition of the nature of this considered judgment. This judgment can be confirmed. If one were to ask individuals with AIDS or with incurable cancer about the nature of their misfortune, I believe that they would say or imply that their impending loss of an FLO makes their premature death a misfortune. If they would not, then the FLO account would plainly be wrong.
The Worst of Crimes Argument
The FLO account of the wrongness of killing is correct because it explains why we believe that killing is one of the worst of crimes. My being killed deprives me of more than does my being robbed or beaten or harmed in some other way because my being killed deprives me of all of the value of my future, not merely part of it. This explains why we make the penalty for murder greater than the penalty for other crimes.
As a corollary the FLO account of the wrongness of killing also explains why killing an adult human being is justified only in the most extreme circumstances, only in circumstances in which the loss of life to an individual is outweighed by a worse outcome if that life is not taken. Thus, we are willing to justify killing in self-defense, killing in order to save one's own life, because one's loss if one does not kill in that situation is so very great. We justify killing in a just war for similar reasons. We believe that capital punishment would be justified if, by having such an institution, fewer premature deaths would occur. The FLO account of the wrongness of killing does not entail that killing is always wrong. Nevertheless, the FLO account explains both why killing is one of the worst of crimes and, as a corollary, why the exceptions to the wrongness of killing are so very rare. A correct theory of the wrongness of killing should have these features.
The Appeal to Cases Argument
The FLO account of the wrongness of killing is correct because it yields the correct answers in many life-any-death cases that arise in medicine and have interested philosophers.
Consider medicine first. Most people believe that it is not wrong deliberately to end the life of a person who is permanently unconscious. Thus we believe that it is not wrong to remove a feeding tube or a ventilator from a permanently comatose patient, knowing that such a removal will cause death. The FLO account of the wrongness of killing explains why this is so. A patient who is permanently unconscious cannot have a future that she would come to value, whatever her values. Therefore, according to the FLO theory of the wrongness of killing, death could not, ceteris paribus, be a misfortune to her. Therefore, removing the feeding tube or ventilator does not wrong her.
By contrast, almost all people believe that it is wrong, ceteris paribus, to withdraw medical treatment from patients who are temporarily unconscious. The FLO account of the wrongness of killing also explains why this is so. Furthermore, these two unconsciousness cases explain why the FLO account of the wrongness of killing does not include present consciousness as a necessary condition for the wrongness of killing.
Consider now the issue of the morality of legalizing active euthanasia. Proponents of active euthanasia argue that if a patient faces a future of intractable pain and wants to die, then, ceteris paribus, it would not be wrong for a physician to give him medicine that she knows would result in his death. This view is so universally accepted that even the strongest opponents of active euthanasia hold it. The official Vatican view (Sacred Congregation, 1980) is that it is permissible for a physician to administer to a patient morphine sufficient (although no more than sufficient) to control his pain even if she foresees that the morphine will result in his death. Notice how nicely the FLO account of the wrongness of killing explains this unanimity of opinion. A patient known to be in severe intractable pain is presumed to have a future without positive value. Accordingly, death would not be a misfortune for him and an action that would (foreseeably) end his life would not be wrong.
Contrast this with the standard emergency medical treatment of the suicidal. Even though the suicidal have indicated that they want to die, medical personneI will act to save their lives. This supports the view that it is not the mere desire to enjoy an FLO which is crucial to our understanding of the wrongness of killing. Having an FLO is what is crucial to the account, although one would, of course, want to make an exception in the case of fully autonomous people who refuse life-saving medical treatment. Opponents of abortion can, of course, be willing to make an exception for fully autonomous fetuses who refuse life support.
The FLO theory of the wrongness of killing also deals correctly with issues that have concerned philosophers. It implies that it would be wrong to kill (peaceful) persons from outer space who come to visit our planet even though they are biologically utterly unlike us. Presumably, if they are persons, then they will have futures that are sufficiently like ours so that it would be wrong to kill them. The FLO account of the wrongness of killing shares this feature with the personhood views of the supporters of choice. Classical opponents of abortion who locate the wrongness of abortion somehow in the biological humanity of a fetus cannot explain this.
A major respect in which the FLO account is superior to accounts that appeal to the concept of person is the explanation the FLO account provides of the wrongness of killing infants. There was a class of infants who had futures that included a class of events that were identical to the futures of the readers of this essay. Thus, reader, the FLO account explains why it was as wrong to kill you when you were an infant as it is to kill you now. This account can be generalized to almost all infants. Notice that the wrongness of killing infants can be explained in the absence of an account of what makes the future of an individual sufficiently valuable so that it is wrong to kill that individual. The absence of such an account explains why the FLO account is indeterminate with respect to the wrongness of killing nonhuman animals.
If the FLO account is the correct theory of the wrongness of killing, then because abortion involves killing fetuses and fetuses have FLOs for exactly the same reasons that infants have FLOs, abortion is presumptively seriously immoral. This inference lays the necessary groundwork for a fourth argument
in favor of the FLO account that shows that abortion IS wrong.
The Analogy with Animals Argument
Why do we believe it is wrong to cause animals suffering? We believe that, in our own case and in the case of other adults and children, suffering is a misfortune. It would be as morally arbitrary to refuse to acknowledge that animal suffering is wrong as it would be to refuse to acknowledge that the suffering of persons of another race is wrong. It is, on reflection, suffering that is a misfortune, not the suffering of white males or the suffering of humans. Therefore, infliction of suffering is presumptively wrong no matter on whom it is inflicted and whether it is inflicted on persons or nonpersons. Arbitrary restrictions on the wrongness of suffering count as racism or speciesism. Not only is this argument convincing on its own, but it is the only way of justifying the wrongness of animal cruelty. Cruelty toward animals is clearly wrong. (This famous argument is due to Singer, 1979.)
The FLO account of the wrongness of abortion is analogous. We believe that, in our own case and the cases of other adults and children, the loss of a future of value is a misfortune. It would be as morally arbitrary to refuse to acknowledge that the loss of a future of value to a fetus is wrong as to refuse to acknowledge that the loss of a future of value to Jews (to take a relevant twentieth-century example) is wrong. It is, on reflection, the loss of a future of value that is a misfortune; not the loss of a future of value to adults or Joss of a future of value to nonJews. To deprive someone of a future of value is wrong no matter on whom the deprivation is inflicted and no matter whether the deprivation is inflicted on persons or nonpersons. Arbitrary restrictions on the wrongness of this deprivation count as racism, genocide or ageism. Therefore, abortion is wrong. This argument that abortion is wrong should be convincing because it has the same form as the argument for the claim that causing pain and suffering to non-human animals is wrong. Since the latter argument is convincing, the former argument should be also. Thus, an analogy with animals supports the thesis that abortion is wrong.
REPLIES TO OBJECTIONS
The four arguments in the previous section establish that abortion is, except in rare cases, seriously immoral. Not surprisingly, there are objections to this view. There are replies to the four most important objections to the FLO argument for the immorality of abortion.
The Potentiality Objection
The FLO account of the wrongness of abortion is a potentiality argument. To claim that a fetus has an FLO is to claim that a fetus now has the potential to be in a state of a certain kind in the future. It is not to claim that all ordinary fetuses will have FLOs. Fetuses who are aborted, of course, will not. To say that a standard fetus has an FLO is to say that a standard fetus either will have or would have a life it will or would value. To say that a standard fetus would have a life it would value is to say that it will have a life it will value if it does not die prematurely. The truth of this conditional is based upon the nature of fetuses (including the fact that they naturally age) and this nature concerns their potential.
Some appeals to potentiality in the abortion debate rest on unsound inferences. For example, one may try to generate an argument against abortion by arguing that because persons have the right to life, potential persons also have the right to life. Such an argument is plainly invalid as it stands. The premise one needs to add to make it valid would have to be something like: "If Xs have the right to Y, then potential Xs have the right to Y." This premise is plainly false. Potential presidents don't have the rights of the presidency; potential voters don't have the right to vote.
In the FLO argument potentiality is not used in order to bridge the gap between adults and fetuses as is done in the argument in the above paragraph. The FLO theory of the wrongness of killing adults is
based upon the adult's potentiality to have a future of value. Potentiality is in the argument from the very beginning. Thus, the plainly false premise is not required. Accordingly, the use of potentiality in the FLO theory is not a sign of an illegitimate inference.
The Argument from Interests
A second objection to the FLO account of the immorality of abortion involves arguing that even though fetuses have FLOs, non sentient fetuses do not meet the minimum conditions for having any moral standing at all because they lack interests. Steinbock (1992, p. 5) has presented this argument clearly:
Beings that have moral status must be capable of caring about what is done to them. They must be capable of being made, if only in a rudimentary sense, happy or miserable, comfortable or distressed. Whatever reasons we may have for preserving or protecting non sentient beings, these reasons do not refer to their own interests. For without conscious awareness, beings cannot have interests. Without interests, they cannot have a welfare of their own. Without a welfare of their own, nothing can be done for their sake. Hence, they lack moral standing or status.
Medical researchers have argued that fetuses do not become sentient until after 22 weeks of gestation (Steinbock, 1992, p. 50). If they are correct, and if Steinbock's argument is sound, then we have both an objection to the FLO account of the wrongness of abortion and a basis for a view on abortion minimally acceptable to most supporters of choice.
Steinbock's conclusion conflicts with our settled moral beliefs. Temporarily unconscious human beings are nonsentient, yet no one believes that they lack either interests or moral standing. Accordingly, neither conscious awareness nor the capacity for conscious awareness is a necessary condition for having interests.
The counter-example of the temporarily unconscious human being shows that there is something internally wrong with Steinbock's argument. The difficulty stems from an ambiguity. One cannot take an interest in something without being capable of caring about what is done to it. However, something can be in someone's interest without that individual being capable of caring about it, or about anything. Thus, life support can be in the interests of a temporarily unconscious patient even though the temporarily unconscious patient is incapable of taking an interest in that life support. If this can be so for the temporarily unconscious patient, then it is hard to see why it cannot be so for the temporarily unconscious (that is, non sentient) fetus who requires placental life support. Thus the objection based on interests fails.
The Problem of Equality
The FLO account of the wrongness of killing seems to imply that the degree of wrongness associated with each killing varies inversely with the victim's age. Thus, the FLO account of the wrongness of killing seems to suggest that it is far worse to kill a five-yearold than an 89-year-old because the former is deprived of far more than the latter. However, we believe that all persons have an equal right to life. Thus, it appears that the FLO account of the wrongness of killing entails an obviously false view (Paske, 1994).
However, the FLO account of the wrongness of killing does not, strictly speaking, imply that it is worse to kill younger people than older people. The FLO account provides an explanation of the wrongness of killing that is sufficient to account for the serious presumptive wrongness of killing. It does not follow that killings cannot be wrong in other ways. For example, one might hold, as does Feldman (1992, p. 184), that in addition to the wrongness of killing that has its basis in the future life of which the victim is deprived, killing an individual is also made wrong by the admirability of an individual's past behavior. Now the amount of admirability will presumably vary directly with age, whereas the amount of deprivation will vary inversely with age. This tends to equalize the wrongness of murder.
However, even if, ceteris paribus, it is worse to kill younger persons than older persons, there are
good reasons for adopting a doctrine of the equality of murder. Suppose that we tried to estimate the seriousness of a crime of murder by appraising the value of the FLO of which the victim had been deprived. How would one go about doing this? In they first place, one would be confronted by the old problem of interpersonal comparisons of utility. Second place, estimation of the value of a would involve putting oneself, not into the shoes of the victim at the time she was killed, but rather into the shoes the victim would have worn had the victim survived, and then estimating from that perspective the worth of that person's future. This task difficult, if not impossible. Accordingly, there are reasons to adopt a convention that murders equally wrong.
Furthermore, the FLO theory, in a way, explains why we do adopt the doctrine of the legal equity of murder. The FLO theory explains why we murder as one of the worst of crimes, since depriving someone of a future like ours deprives more than depriving her of anything else. This gives us a reason for making the punishment for younger victims very harsh, as harsh as is compatible with civiliazed society. One should not make the punishment younger victims harsher than that. Thus, the doctrine of the equal legal right to life does not seem incompatible with the FLO theory.
The Contraception Objection
The strongest objection to the FLO argument immorality of abortion is based on the claim that, because contraception results in one less FLO, the FLO argument entails that contraception, indeed, abstention from sex when conception is possible, is immoral. Because neither contraception nor abstention from sex when conception is possible is immoral, the FLO account is flawed.
There is a cogent reply to this objection. If argument of the early part of this essay is correct, then the central issue concerning the morality of abortion is the problem of whether fetuses are individuals who are members of the class of individuals whom it is seriously presumptively wrong to kill. The properties of being human and alive, of being a person, and of having an FLO are criteria that participants in the abortion debate have offered to mark off the relevant class of individuals. The central claim of this essay is that having an FLO marks off the relevant class of individuals. A defender of the FLO view could, therefore, reply that since, at the time of contraception, there is no individual to have an FLO, the FLO account does not entail that contraception is wrong. The wrong of killing is primarily a wrong to the individual who is killed; at the time of contraception there is no individual to be wronged.
However, someone who presses the contraception objection might have an answer to this reply. She might say that the sperm and egg are the individuals deprived of an FLO at the time of contraception. Thus, there are individuals whom contraception deprives of an FLO and if depriving an individual of an FLO is what makes killing wrong, then the FLO theory entails that contraception is wrong.
There is also a reply to this move. In the case of abortion, an objectively determinate individual is the subject of harm caused by the loss of an FLO. This individual is a fetus. In the case of contraception, there are far more candidates (see Norcross, 1990). Let us consider some possible candidates in order of the increasing number of individuals harmed: (1) The single harmed individual might be the combination of the particular sperm and the particular egg that would have united to form a zygote if contraception had not been used. (2) The two harmed individuals might be the particular sperm itself, and, in addition, the ovum itself that would have physically combined to form the zygote. (This is modeled on the double homicide of two persons who would otherwise in a short time fuse. (1) is modeled on harm to a single entity some of whose parts are not physically contiguous, such as a university. (3) The many harmed individuals might be the millions of combinations of sperm and the released ovum whose (small) chances of having an FLO were reduced by the successful contraception. (4) The even larger class of harmed individuals (larger by one) might be the class consisting of all of the individual sperm in an ejaculate and, in addition, the individual ovum released at the time of the successful contraception. (1) through (4) are all candidates for being the subject(s) of harm in the case of successful contraception or abstinence from sex. Which should be chosen? Should we hold a lottery? There seems to be no non-arbitrarily determinate subject of harm in the case of successful contraception. But if there is no such subject of harm, then no determinate thing was harmed. If no determinate thing was harmed, then (in the case of contraception) no wrong has been done. Thus, the FLO account of the wrongness of abortion does not entail that contraception is wrong.
This essay contains an argument for the view that, except in unusual circumstances, abortion is seriously wrong. Deprivation of an FLO explains why killing adults and children is wrong. Abortion deprives fetuses of FLOs. Therefore, abortion is wrong. This argument is based on an account of the wrongness of killing that is a result of our considered judgment of the nature of the misfortune of premature death. It accounts for why we regard killing as one of the worst of crimes. It is superior to alternative accounts of the wrongness of killing that are intended to provide insight into the ethics of abortion. This account of the wrongness of killing is supported by the way it handles cases in which our moral judgments are settled. This account has an analogue in the most plausible account of the wrongness of causing animals to suffer. This account makes no appeal to religion. Therefore, the FLO account shows that abortion, except in rare instances, is seriously wrong.
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Marquis, D. B., "A Future like Ours and the Concept of Person: a Reply to Mcinerney and Paske," The Abortion Controversy: A Reader, ed. L. P. Pojman and F. J. Beckwith (Boston: Jones and Bartlett, 1994), pp. 354-68.
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Paske, G., "Abortion and the Neo-natal Right to Life: a Critique of Marquis's Futurist Argument," The Abortion Controversy: A Reader, ed. L. P. Pojman and F. J. Beckwith (Boston: Jones and Bartlett, 1994), pp. 343-53.
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Tooley, M., "Abortion and Infanticide," Philosophy and Public Affairs 2 (1972): 37-65.
Warren, M. A., "On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion," Monist 57 (1973): 43-61.
The abortion debate is the ongoing controversy surrounding the moral, legal, and religious status of induced abortion. The sides involved in the debate are the self-described "pro-choice" movement and the "pro-life" movement. "Pro-choice" emphasizes the right of women to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy. "Pro-life" movement emphasizes the right of the embryo or fetus to gestate to term and be born. Both terms are considered loaded in mainstream media, where terms such as "abortion rights" or "anti-abortion" are generally preferred. Each movement has, with varying results, sought to influence public opinion and to attain legal support for its position, with small numbers of anti-abortion advocates sometimes using violence.
For many people, abortion is essentially a moral issue, concerning the commencement of human personhood, the rights of the fetus, and a woman's rights over her own body. The debate has become a political and legal issue in some countries with anti-abortion campaigners seeking to enact, maintain and expand anti-abortion laws, while abortion rights campaigners seeking the repeal or easing of such laws while expanding access to abortion. Abortion laws vary considerably between jurisdictions, ranging from outright prohibition of the procedure to public funding of abortion. Availability of safe abortion also varies across the world.
In ancient times, abortion, along with infanticide, was considered in the context of family planning, gender selection, population control, and the property rights of the patriarch. Rarely were the rights of the prospective mother, much less the prospective child, taken into consideration. Although generally legal, the morality of abortion, birth control and child abandonment (as a form of infanticide) was sometimes discussed. Then, as now, these discussions often concerned the nature of man, the existence of a soul, when life begins, and the beginning of human personhood.
While the practice of infanticide (as a form of family planning) has largely been eradicated in developed countries, birth control and abortion are still practiced; and their morality and legality continues to be debated. While modern debates about abortion retain some of the language of these older debates, the terminology has often acquired new meanings.
Discussion of the putative personhood of the fetus may be complicated by the current legal status of children. Like children or minors in the U.S., and unlike corporations, a fetus or an embryo is not legally a "person", not having reached the age of majority and not deemed able to enter into contracts and sue or be sued. Since the 1860s, they have been treated as persons for the limited purposes of Offence against the person law in the UK including N. Ireland, although this treatment was amended by the Abortion Act of 1967 in England, Scotland and Wales. Furthermore, there are logistic difficulties in treating a fetus as "the object of direct action." As one New Jersey Superior Court judge noted,
If a fetus is a person, it is a person in very special circumstances – it exists entirely within the body of another much larger person and usually cannot be the object of direct action by another person.
Proposals in the current debate range from complete prohibition, even if done to save the woman's life, to complete legalization with public funding, as in Canada.
Many of the terms used in the debate are seen as political framing: terms used to validate one's own stance while invalidating the opposition's. For example, the labels "pro-choice" and "pro-life" imply endorsement of widely held values such as liberty or the right to life, while suggesting that the opposition must be "anti-choice" or "anti-life" (alternatively "pro-coercion" or "pro-death"). Terms used by some in the debate to describe their opponents include "pro-abortion" or "pro-abort". However, these terms do not always reflect a political view or fall along a binary; in one Public Religion Research Institute poll, seven in ten Americans described themselves as "pro-choice" while almost two-thirds described themselves as "pro-life". Another identifier in the debate is "abolitionist", which harks back to the 19th-century struggle against human slavery.
Appeals are often made in the abortion debate to the rights of the fetus, pregnant woman, or other parties. Such appeals can generate confusion if the type of rights is not specified (whether civil, natural, or otherwise) or if it is simply assumed that the right appealed to takes precedence over all other competing rights (an example of begging the question).
The appropriate terms with which to designate the human organism prior to birth are also debated. The medical terms "embryo" and "fetus" are seen by some pro-life advocates as dehumanizing, while everyday terms such as "baby" are viewed as sentimental by some pro-choice advocates.
Politics refers to the processes, defined and limited through legal documents, by which decisions (laws) are made in governments. In politics, rights are the protections and privileges legally granted to citizens by the government. In a democracy, certain rights are considered to be inalienable, and thus not subject to grant or withdrawal by government. Regarding abortion law, the political debate usually surrounds a right to privacy, and when or how a government may regulate abortion. There is abundant debate regarding the extent of abortion regulation. Some pro-choice advocates argue that it should be illegal for governments to regulate abortion any more than other medical practices. On both sides of the debate, some argue[who?] that governments should be permitted to prohibit elective abortions after the 20th week,viability, or the second trimester. Some want to prohibit all abortions, starting from conception.
Even though the right to privacy is not explicitly stated in many constitutions of sovereign nations, many people see it as foundational to a functioning democracy. In general the right to privacy can be found to rest on the provisions of habeas corpus, which first found official expression under Henry II in 11th century England, but has precedent in Anglo-Saxon law. This provision guarantees the right to freedom from arbitrary government interference, as well as due process of law. This conception of the right to privacy is operant in all countries which have adopted English common law through Acts of Reception. The Law of the United States rests on English common law by this means.
Time has stated that the issue of bodily privacy is "the core" of the abortion debate.Time defined privacy, in relation to abortion, as the ability of a woman to "decide what happens to her own body". In political terms, privacy can be understood as a condition in which one is not observed or disturbed by government.
Traditionally, American courts have located the right to privacy in the Fourth Amendment, Ninth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, as well as the penumbra of the Bill of Rights. The landmark decision Roe v Wade relied on the 14th Amendment, which guarantees that federal rights shall be applied equally to all persons born in the United States. The 14th Amendment has given rise to the doctrine of Substantive due process, which is said to guarantee various privacy rights, including the right to bodily integrity. In Canada, the courts have located privacy rights in the security of persons clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7 of that charter echoes language used in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which also guarantees security of persons.
While governments are allowed to invade the privacy of their citizens in some cases, they are expected to protect privacy in all cases lacking a compelling state interest. In the US, the compelling state interest test has been developed in accordance with the standards of strict scrutiny. In Roe v Wade, the Court decided that the state has an "important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life" from the point of viability on, but that prior to viability, the woman's fundamental rights are more compelling than that of the state.
U.S. judicial involvement
Main article: Abortion in the United States
Roe v. Wade struck down state laws banning abortion in 1973. Over 20 cases have addressed abortion law in the United States, all of which upheld Roe v. Wade. Since Roe, abortion has been legal throughout the country, but states have placed varying regulations on it, from requiring parental involvement in a minor's abortion to restricting late-term abortions.
Legal criticisms of the Roe decision address many points, among them are several suggesting that it is an overreach of judicial powers, or that it was not properly based on the Constitution, or that it is an example of judicial activism and that it should be overturned so that abortion law can be decided by legislatures. Justice Potter Stewart, who joined with the majority, viewed the Roe opinion as "legislative" and asked that more consideration be paid to state legislatures.
Candidates competing for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 Presidential election cited Gonzales v. Carhart as judicial activism. In upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, Carhart is the first judicial opinion upholding a legal barrier to a specific abortion procedure.
"Where, in the performance of its judicial duties, the Court decides a case in such a way as to resolve the sort of intensely divisive controversy reflected in Roe and those rare, comparable cases, its [505 U.S. 833, 867] decision has a dimension that the resolution of the normal case does not carry. It is the dimension present whenever the Court's interpretation of the Constitution calls the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution [...W]hatever the premises of opposition may be, only the most convincing justification under accepted standards of precedent could suffice to demonstrate that a later decision overruling the first was anything but a surrender to political pressure and an unjustified repudiation of the principle on which the Court staked its authority in the first instance." — Majority opinion of Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
"Quite to the contrary, by foreclosing all democratic outlet for the deep passions this issue arouses, by banishing the issue from the political forum that gives all participants, even the losers, the satisfaction of a fair hearing and an honest fight, by continuing the imposition of a rigid national rule instead of allowing for regional differences, the Court merely prolongs and intensifies the anguish [over abortion]." — Justice Antonin Scalia, "concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part".
Canadian judicial involvement
Main article: Abortion in Canada
With R v. Morgentaler, the Supreme Court of Canada removed abortion from the Criminal Code. Relying on the security of person clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the court determined that, while the state has an interest in protecting the fetus "at some point", this interest cannot override that of the pregnant woman because: "the right to security of the person of a pregnant woman was infringed more than was required to achieve the objective of protecting the fetus, and the means were not reasonable." The only laws currently governing abortion in Canada are those which govern other medical procedures, such as those regulating licensing of facilities, the training of medical personnel, and the like.
Because the courts did not specifically establish abortion as a right, Parliament has leave to legislate on this aspect of the matter; and in 1989, the Progressive Conservative government attempted to do just that. A bill was introduced that would allow abortion only if two doctors certified that the woman's health was in danger. This bill passed the House of Commons but was defeated by a tie vote in the Senate.
Several additional cases have considered further issues.
Although the courts have not ruled on the question of fetal personhood, the question has been raised in two cases, Tremblay v. Daigle and R. v. Sullivan. Both cases relied on the born alive rule, inherited from English common law, to determine that the fetus was not a person at law.
Two further cases are notable: Dobson (Litigation Guardian of) v. Dobson, and Winnipeg Child & Family Services (Northwest Area) v. G . (D.F.), [I9971 3 S.C.R. 925 M], which dismissed so-called fetal abuse charges.
Countries that refuse abortions
As of December 2016, there were 6 countries that banned abortion: El Salvador, the Vatican, Chile, Malta, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. This bans women from an abortion for any reason (underage, fetal impairment, rape/incest), even if it might mean saving her life. All of these countries have a punishment if it is done illegally of jail time.
Countries with strict laws
Ireland only allows abortions if it is a risk to the woman's life. It is also a very expensive procedure. There are also penalties of jail time if an abortion is induced for any other reason. China has a free abortion policy but for the reason of complying with the one child policy - so many times it is forced upon them. The Philippines also only have abortions in place to save the woman's life but it is not stated in the law. This means that it is also punishable by jail time. 
Effects of legalization/illegalization
Pro-choice advocates argue that illegalization of abortion increases the incidence of unsafe abortions, as the availability of professional abortion services decreases, and leads to increased maternal mortality. According to a global study collaboratively conducted by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute, most unsafe abortions occur where abortion is illegal.
The effect on crime of legalized abortion is a subject of controversy, with proponents of the theory generally arguing that "unwanted children" are more likely to become criminals and that an inverse correlation is observed between the availability of abortion and subsequent crime.
Economist George Akerlof has argued that the legalization of abortion in the United States contributed to a declining sense of paternal duty among biological fathers and to a decline in shotgun weddings, even when women chose childbirth over abortion, and thus to an increase rather than a decrease in the rate of children born to unwed mothers.
There are differences of opinion as to whether a zygote/embryo/fetus acquires "personhood" or was always a "person". If "personhood" is acquired, opinions differ about when this happens.
Traditionally, the concept of personhood entailed the soul, a metaphysical concept referring to a non-corporeal or extra-corporeal dimension of human being which is absent in other creatures. Today, the concepts of subjectivity and intersubjectivity, personhood, mind, and self have come to encompass a number of aspects of human being previously considered the domain of the "soul". Thus, while the historical question has been: when does the soul enter the body, in modern terms, the question could be put instead: at what point does the developing individual develop personhood or selfhood.
Since the zygote is genetically identical to the embryo, the fully formed fetus, and the baby, the notion of acquired personhood could lead to an instance of the Sorites paradox, also known as the paradox of the heap.
Related issues attached to the question of the beginning of human personhood include the legal status, bodily integrity, and subjectivity of the pregnant woman and the philosophical concept of "natality" (i.e. "the distinctively human capacity to initiate a new beginning", which a new human life embodies).
In the 1973 US judgment Roe v Wade, the opinion of the justices included the following statement:
"We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer."
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(December 2011)
Fetal pain, its existence, and its implications are part of a larger debate about abortion. A 2005 multidisciplinary systematic review in JAMA in the area of fetal development found that a fetus is unlikely to feel pain until after the sixth month of pregnancy. Developmental neurobiologists suspect that the establishment of thalamocortical connections (at about 26 weeks) may be critical to fetal perception of pain. However, legislation was proposed by anti-abortion advocates that would require abortion providers to tell a woman that the fetus may feel pain during an abortion procedure.
The 2005 JAMA review concluded that data from dozens of medical reports and studies indicate that fetuses are unlikely to feel pain until the third trimester of pregnancy. However a number of medical critics have since disputed these conclusions. Other researchers such as Anand and Fisk have challenged the idea that pain cannot be felt before 26 weeks, positing instead that pain can be felt at around 20 weeks. Anand's suggestion is disputed in a March 2010 report on Fetal Awareness published by a working party of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, citing a lack of evidence or rationale. Page 20 of the report definitively states that the fetus cannot feel pain prior to week 24. Because pain can involve sensory, emotional and cognitive factors, leaving it "impossible to know" when painful experiences are perceived, even if it is known when thalamocortical connections are established.
Wendy Savage—press officer, Doctors for a Woman's Choice on Abortion—considers the question to be irrelevant. In a 1997 letter to the British Medical Journal, April 1997, she noted that the majority of surgical abortions in Britain were performed under general anesthesia which affects the fetus, and considers the discussion "to be unhelpful to women and to the scientific debate." Others caution against unnecessary use of fetal anesthetic during abortion, as it poses potential health risks to the pregnant woman. David Mellor and colleagues have noted that the fetal brain is already awash in naturally occurring chemicals that keep it sedated and anesthetized until birth. At least one anesthesia researcher has suggested the fetal pain legislation may make abortions harder to obtain because abortion clinics lack the equipment and expertise to supply fetal anesthesia. Anesthesia is administered directly to fetuses only while they are undergoing surgery.
Main article: Beginning of human personhood
Although the two main sides of the abortion debate tend to agree that a human fetus is biologically and genetically human (that is, of the human species), they often differ in their view on whether or not a human fetus is, in any of various ways, a person. Pro-life supporters argue that abortion is morally wrong on the basis that a fetus is an innocent humanperson or because a fetus is a potential life that will, in most cases, develop into a fully functional human being. They believe that a fetus is a person upon conception. Others reject this position by drawing a distinction between human being and human person, arguing that while the fetus is innocent and biologically human, it is not a person with a right to life. In support of this distinction, some propose a list of criteria as markers of personhood. For example, Mary Ann Warren suggests consciousness (at least the capacity to feel pain), reasoning, self-motivation, the ability to communicate, and self-awareness. According to Warren, a being need not exhibit all of these criteria to qualify as a person with a right to life, but if a being exhibits none of them (or perhaps only one), then it is certainly not a person. Warren concludes that as the fetus satisfies only one criterion, consciousness (and this only after it becomes susceptible to pain), the fetus is not a person and abortion is therefore morally permissible. Other philosophers apply similar criteria, concluding that a fetus lacks a right to life because it lacks brain waves or higher brain function, self-consciousness, rationality, and autonomy. These lists diverge over precisely which features confer a right to life, but tend to propose various developed psychological or physiological features not found in fetuses.
Critics of this typically argue that some of the proposed criteria for personhood would disqualify two classes of born human beings – reversibly comatose patients, and human infants – from having a right to life, since they, like fetuses, are not self-conscious, do not communicate, and so on. Defenders of the proposed criteria may respond that the reversibly comatose do satisfy the relevant criteria because they "retain all their unconscious mental states". or at least some higher brain function (brain waves). Warren concedes that infants are not "persons" by her proposed criteria, and on that basis she and others, including the moral philosopher Peter Singer, conclude that infanticide could be morally acceptable under some circumstances (for example if the infant is severely disabled or in order to save the lives of several other infants.) Critics may see such concessions as an indication that the right to life cannot be adequately defined by reference to developed psychological featured.
An alternative approach is to base personhood or the right to life on a being's natural or inherent capacities. On this approach, a being essentially has a right to life if it has a natural capacity to develop the relevant psychological features; and, since human beings do have this natural capacity, they essentially have a right to life beginning at conception (or whenever they come into existence). Critics of this position argue that mere genetic potential is not a plausible basis for respect (or for the right to life), and that basing a right to life on natural capacities would lead to the counterintuitive position that anencephalic infants, irreversibly comatose patients, and brain-dead patients kept alive on a medical ventilator, are all persons with a right to life. Respondents to this criticism argue that the noted human cases in fact would not be classified as persons as they do not have a natural capacity to develop any psychological features. Also, in a view that favors benefiting even unconceived but potential future persons, it has been argued as justified to abort an unintended pregnancy in favor for conceiving a new child later in better conditions.
Philosophers such as Aquinas use the concept of individuation. They argue that abortion is not permissible from the point at which individual human identity is realized. Anthony Kenny argues that this can be derived from everyday beliefs and language and one can legitimately say "if my mother had had an abortion six months into her pregnancy, she would have killed me" then one can reasonably infer that at six months the "me" in question would have been an existing person with a valid claim to life. Since division of the zygote into twins through the process of monozygotic twinning can occur until the fourteenth day of pregnancy, Kenny argues that individual identity is obtained at this point and thus abortion is not permissible after two weeks.
Arguments for abortion rights which do not depend on fetal non-personhood
An argument first presented by Judith Jarvis Thomson states that even if the fetus is a person and has a right to life, abortion is morally permissible because a woman has a right to control her own body and its life-support functions. Thomson's variant of this argument draws an analogy between forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy and forcing a person to allow his body to be used to maintain blood homeostasis (as a dialysis machine is used) for another person suffering from kidney failure. It is argued that just as it would be permissible to "unplug" and thereby cause the death of the person who is using one's kidneys, so it is permissible to abort the fetus (who similarly, it is said, has no right to use one's body's life-support functions against one's will).
Critics of this argument generally argue that there are morally relevant disanalogies between abortion and the kidney failure scenario. For example, it is argued that the fetus is the woman's child as opposed to a mere stranger; that abortion kills the fetus rather than merely letting it die; and that in the case of pregnancy arising from voluntary intercourse, the woman has either tacitly consented to the fetus using her body, or has a duty to allow it to use her body since she herself is responsible for its need to use her body. Some writers defend the analogy against these objections, arguing that the disanalogies are morally irrelevant or do not apply to abortion in the way critics have claimed.
Alternative scenarios have been put forth as more accurate and realistic representations of the moral issues present in abortion. John Noonan proposes the scenario of a family who was found to be liable for frostbite finger loss suffered by a dinner guest whom they refused to allow to stay overnight, although it was very cold outside and the guest showed signs of being sick. It is argued that just as it would not be permissible to refuse temporary accommodation for the guest to protect him from physical harm, it would not be permissible to refuse temporary accommodation of a fetus.
Other critics claim that there is a difference between artificial and extraordinary means of preservation, such as medical treatment, kidney dialysis, and blood transfusions, and normal and natural means of preservation, such as gestation, childbirth, and breastfeeding. They argue that if a baby was born into an environment in which there was no replacement available for her mother's breast milk, and the baby would either breastfeed or starve, the mother would have to allow the baby to breastfeed. But the mother would never have to give the baby a blood transfusion, no matter what the circumstances were. The difference between breastfeeding in that scenario and blood transfusions is the difference between using your body as a kidney dialysis machine, and gestation and childbirth.
Sexual emancipation and equality
Margaret Sanger wrote: "No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother." Denying the right to abortion can be construed from this perspective as a form of female oppression under a patriarchal system, perpetuating inequality between the sexes.
Arguments against the right to abortion
The book Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation presents the argument that abortion involves unjust discrimination against the unborn. According to this argument, those who deny that fetuses have a right to life do not value all human life, but instead select arbitrary characteristics (such as particular levels of physical or psychological development) as giving some human beings more value or rights than others.
In contrast, philosophers who define the right to life by reference to particular levels of physical or psychological development typically maintain that such characteristics are morally relevant, and reject the assumption that all human life necessarily has value (or that membership in the species Homo sapiens is in itself morally relevant).
Further information: Philosophical aspects of the abortion debate § The deprivation argument
The argument of deprivation states that abortion is morally wrong because it deprives the fetus of a valuable future. On this account, killing an adult human being is wrong because it deprives the victim of a future like ours—a future containing highly valuable or desirable experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments. If a being has such a future, then (according to the argument) killing that being would seriously harm it and hence would be seriously wrong. But since a fetus does have such a future, the "overwhelming majority" of deliberate abortions are placed in the "same moral category" as killing an innocent adult human being. Not all abortions are unjustified according to this argument: abortion would be justified if the same justification could be applied to killing an adult human.
Criticism of this line of reasoning follows several threads. Some reject the argument on grounds relating to personal identity, holding that the fetus is not the same entity as the adult into which it will develop, and thus that the fetus does not have a "future like ours" in the required sense. Others grant that the fetus has a future like ours, but argue that being deprived of this future is not a significant harm or a significant wrong to the fetus, because there are relatively few psychological connections (continuations of memory, belief, desire and the like) between the fetus as it is now and the adult into which it will develop. Another criticism is that the argument creates inequalities in the wrongness of killing: as the futures of some people appear to be far more valuable or desirable than the futures of other people, the argument appears to entail that some killings are far more wrong than others, or that some people have a far stronger right to life than others—a conclusion that is taken to be counterintuitive or unacceptable.
Argument from uncertainty
Some pro-life supporters argue that if there is uncertainty as to whether the fetus has a right to life, then having an abortion is equivalent to consciously taking the risk of killing another. According to this argument, if it is not known for certain whether something (such as the fetus) has a right to life, then it is reckless, and morally wrong, to treat that thing as if it lacks a right to life (for example by killing it). This would place abortion in the same moral category as manslaughter (if it turns out that the fetus has a right to life) or certain forms of criminal negligence (if it turns out that the fetus does not have a right to life).
David Boonin replies that if this kind of argument were correct, then the killing of nonhuman animals and plants would also be morally wrong, because (Boonin contends) it is not known for certain that such beings lack a right to life. Boonin also argues that arguments from uncertainty fail because the mere fact that one might be mistaken in finding certain arguments persuasive (for example, arguments for the claim that the fetus lacks a right to life) does not mean that one should act contrary to those arguments or assume them to be mistaken.
Main article: Religion and abortion
Each religion has many varying views on the moral implications of abortion. These views can often be in direct opposition to each other. Muslims regard abortion as haram meaning forbidden. Muslims typically cite the Quranic verse 17:31 which states that a fetus shouldn't be aborted out of fear of poverty. Pro-life Christians support their views with Scripture references such as that of Luke 1:15; Jeremiah 1:4–5; Genesis 25:21–23; Matthew 1:18; and Psalm 139:13–16. The Catholic Church believes that human life begins at conception as does the right to life; thus, abortion is considered immoral. The Church of England also considers abortion to be morally wrong, though their position admits abortion when "the continuance of a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother".
Mexico City policy
Main article: Mexico City policy
The Mexico City policy—also known as the "global gag rule"—required any non-governmental organization receiving U.S. government funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services in other countries. This had a significant effect on the health policies of many nations across the globe. The Mexico City policy was instituted under President Reagan, suspended under President Clinton, reinstated by President George W. Bush, and suspended again by President Barack Obama on 24 January 2009 and re-instated once again by President Donald J. Trump on 23 January 2017.
Main article: Societal attitudes towards abortion
A number of opinion polls around the world have explored public opinion regarding the issue of abortion. Results have varied from poll to poll, country to country, and region to region, while varying with regard to different aspects of the issue.
A May 2005 survey examined attitudes toward abortion in 10 European countries, asking respondents whether they agreed with the statement, "If a woman doesn't want children, she should be allowed to have an abortion". The highest level of approval was 81% (in the Czech Republic); the lowest was 47% (in Poland).
In North America, a December 2001 poll surveyed Canadian opinion on abortion, asking in what circumstances they believe abortion should be permitted; 32% responded that they believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 52% that it should be legal in certain circumstances, and 14% that it should be legal in no circumstances. A similar poll in April 2009 surveyed people in the United States about U.S. opinion on abortion; 18% said that abortion should be "legal in all cases", 28% said that abortion should be "legal in most cases", 28% said abortion should be "illegal in most cases" and 16% said abortion should be "illegal in all cases". A November 2005 poll in Mexico found that 73.4% think abortion should not be legalized while 11.2% think it should.
Of attitudes in South America, a December 2003 survey found that 30% of Argentines thought that abortion in Argentina should be allowed "regardless of situation", 47% that it should be allowed "under some circumstances", and 23% that it should not be allowed "regardless of situation". A more recent poll now suggest that 45% of Argentineans are in favor of abortion for any reason in the first twelve weeks. This same poll conducted in September 2011 also suggests that most Argentineans favor abortion being legal when a woman's health or life is at risk (81%), when the pregnancy is a result of rape (80%) or the fetus has severe abnormalities (68%). A March 2007 poll regarding the abortion law in Brazil found that 65% of Brazilians believe that it "should not be modified", 16% that it should be expanded "to allow abortion in other cases", 10% that abortion should be "decriminalized", and 5% were "not sure". A July 2005 poll in Colombia found that 65.6% said they thought that abortion should remain illegal, 26.9% that it should be made legal, and 7.5% that they were unsure.
Effect upon crime rate
Main article: Legalized abortion and crime effect
A theory attempts to draw a correlation between the United States' unprecedented nationwide decline of the overall crime rate during the 1990s and the decriminalization of abortion 20 years prior.
The suggestion was brought to widespread attention by a 1999 academic paper, The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime, authored by the economists Steven D. Levitt and John Donohue. They attributed the drop in crime to a reduction in individuals said to have a higher statistical probability of committing crimes: unwanted children, especially those born to mothers who are African American, impoverished, adolescent, uneducated, and single. The change coincided with what would have been the adolescence, or peak years of potential criminality, of those who had not been born as a result of Roe v. Wade and similar cases. Donohue and Levitt's study also noted that states which legalized abortion before the rest of the nation experienced the lowering crime rate pattern earlier, and those with higher abortion rates had more pronounced reductions.
Fellow economists Christopher Foote and Christopher Goetz criticized the methodology in the Donohue-Levitt study, noting a lack of accommodation for statewide yearly variations such as cocaine use, and recalculating based on incidence of crime per capita; they found no statistically significant results. Levitt and Donohue responded to this by presenting an adjusted data set which took into account these concerns and reported that the data maintained the statistical significance of their initial paper.
Such research has been criticized by some as being utilitarian, discriminatory as to race and socioeconomic class, and as promoting eugenics as a solution to crime. Levitt states in his book Freakonomics that they are neither promoting nor negating any course of action—merely reporting data as economists.
Breast cancer hypothesis
Main article: Abortion–breast cancer hypothesis
The abortion–breast cancer hypothesis posits that induced abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer. This position contrasts with the scientific consensus that abortion does not cause breast cancer.
In early pregnancy, levels of estrogen increase, leading to breast growth in preparation for lactation. The hypothesis proposes that if this process is interrupted by an abortion – before full maturity in the third trimester – then more relatively vulnerable immature cells could be left than there were prior to the pregnancy, resulting in a greater potential risk of breast cancer. The hypothesis mechanism was first proposed and explored in rat studies conducted in the 1980s.
Main article: Minors and abortion
Many states require some form of parental consent before the abortion is set to happen. In the United States, 37 states require the parent to have knowledge while only 21 of those states need one parent to consent. Certain states have an alternative answer to the involvement of the parent by getting the judicial system involved with a judicial bypass. In those states, minors can get permission from the judge if parents are not willing to do so or if they are absent from their lives. 
These laws are known as parental involvement laws.
There are different guidelines to minors and abortions in every country.
- ^Groome, Thomas. "To Win Again, Democrats Must Stop Being the Abortion Party."New York Times. 27 March 2017. 27 March 2017.
- ^For example: "Wall Street Journal style guide: Vol. 23, No. 1". Wall Street Journal. 31 January 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- ^See generally, "The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance", John Boswell ISBN 978-0-226-06712-4 Nov 1998, Intro.
- ^See generally Spivack, Carla, To Bring Down the Flowers: The Cultural Context of Abortion Law in Early Modern England. Available at SSRN:  Introduction
- ^Rodham, Hillary (1973). "Children under the law". Harvard Educational Review. 43 (4): 487–514. doi:10.17763/haer.43.4.e14676283875773k.
- ^"The law and ethics of abortion"(PDF). BMA Views, Ethics Department. British Medical Association. 2014.
- ^State v Loce September 6, 1991
- ^"Sister Margaret's Choice" 27 May 2010
- ^Christine Ammer; JoAnn E. Manson (February 2009). The Encyclopedia of Women's Health. Infobase Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-8160-7407-5. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- ^Holstein and Gubrium (2008). Handbook of Constructionist Research. Guilford Press.
- ^"Committed to Availability, Conflicted about Morality: What the Millennial Generation Tells Us about the Future of the Abortion Debate and the Culture Wars". Public Religion Research Institute. 9 June 2011.
- ^Andrea Grimes (11 April 2014). "Portrait of an Anti-Abortion 'Abolitionist'". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- ^Irin Carmon (8 March 2014). "Meet the rebels of the anti-abortion movement". Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- ^Brennan 'Dehumanizing the vulnerable' 2000
- ^Getek, Kathryn; Cunningham, Mark (February 1996). "A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing – Language and the Abortion Debate". Princeton Progressive Review.
- ^"Abortion". Positions. British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. Retrieved 24 May 2007.