Abortion, Abort Mission?

by John Dough on February 9, 2017 - 3:51pm

                  One of the biggest dilemmas that is facing current society is abortion. Many wonder whether if it is morally right to kill an unborn fetus as some view equally to killing a person. In general, the public’s response is either for it or against it with a small portion undecided (BBC News). The debate over the ethical viability of abortion has been complicated but from a utilitarianism ethical framework, the outcomes and the overall health of the birth mother is what matters.

                  There are two sides to this dilemma and both are under the name “pro-life” and “pro-choice” and each side has their different stance on abortion. Pro-choice says that in certain circumstances an abortion should be allowed to the mother either due to medical or economic reasons. Pro-choice resembles the ethical framework of utilitarianism since their morals are based on the outcomes rather than the actions (Ethical Responses). Therefore, the action of the mother does not matter as long the outcome is for her own benefit or happiness such as medical, economic reasons, or because she was raped. If the birth mother was in no such situation, then having the abortion would be unjust because an innocent unborn baby was killed without justification and therefore having no benefit for the greater good of society.

Pro-life followers say that no matter the situation it is always wrong to have an abortion because they believe the fetus qualifies for human rights the moment it is created. Pro-life resembles the ethical framework of deontology. Deontology is based on duties and the moment a woman becomes a parent it is their duty to protect their child. By aborting the child the mother is fulfilling her duty as a parent. Another point in deontology is that people should be treated as ends to themselves not means to an end. Therefore, no matter the situation of the mother abortion is always wrong because she is not fulfilling her duty as a parent.

                   The problem with deontology is that it does not take consider the general health of the mother. For example, the mother can be giving birth to a child she knows she can’t support and will cause means of suffering for her child. Thus, it would be better for her health and the child’s to not give birth until she is more financially stable. The utilitarianism approach, to the dilemma, seems to fit best as it benefits the health of the mother but if the mother has no valid reason then the action is unjust which works a little bit with both sides of the dilemma.


Works Cited

"Abortion: Introduction To The Abortion Debate." BBC News. BBC, 2014. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

"Applied Ethics." Ethical Responses. N.p., 2015. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

John C. Merril, “Overview: Theoretical Foundations for Media Ethics,” 3-32 in A. David Gardon, John M Kittross, John C Merrill, William Babcock, and Michael Dorsher (eds.), Controversies in Media Ethics, 3rd Edition (New York: Routledge, 2011)



I like how your article compares the stances of two widely used ethical theories on abortion. However, I believe that including a feminist perspective would make this text far more comprehensive. Indeed, many of the arguments used by pro-choicists today–including the term pro-choice itself–are direct products of Second Wave Feminism. This movement, which took place in the 1960s and 1970s, was characterized by numerous debates concerning women's rights in matters of sexuality, society, and reproduction. The greatest accomplishment of Second Wave Feminism was perhaps the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which allowed all women to procure an abortion before their third trimester. This decision was seen as a milestone by most feminists as it helped liberate women from male sexual dominance. For one thing, the ability to abort from an unwanted pregnancy allowed women to gain better control over their bodies, thus causing society to no longer view them as mere sexual objects. Moreover, it empowered women by greatly diminishing their dependence on men. Indeed, before Roe v. Wade, many women experienced serious financial troubles due to unplanned pregnancy. Because of this, they were forced to stay in dissatisfying–or even abusive–relationships with breadwinning men.
For further insight, I recommend you look through Suzan Sherwin's Abortion Through a Feminist Ethic Lens, which sheds light on the points mentioned above. In the same text, Sherwin goes on to argue that more ressources should be allocated towards financial and social aid for women wanting to go through with their pregnancy, rather than focusing on women wishing to do away with it.