Baby on board! Though maybe not for long
by Gordon Ramsay on February 9, 2017 - 3:59pm
The issue of abortion has long been a major moral dilemma. Do the needs of the parent justify the killing of an unborn being? Although abortion should not be encouraged or abused, women should have the choice to an abortion as there are cases where it is morally acceptable. Some say you are committing murder which is wrong no matter what the context is. Others don’t consider unborn fetus as living beings, therefore believing it isn’t murder. What is often overlooked is the needs of the mother whose life is drastically altered by the decision to have an abortion or not.
Take for example a young woman who becomes pregnant only to have her boyfriend leave her after hearing the news. She would then have to raise her kid as a single mother making it much more difficult for her to attend school or to hold a job. This could ruin her career and create a bad environment for the kid as well. There are also cases of women who are raped and become pregnant as a result. In these cases it would seem only fair to let the woman get an abortion. Some would argue that an alternative would be to leave your child up for adoption. However, the mother would still have to spend 9 months in pregnancy which in some places could mean losing her job. This also doesn’t account for the emotional scarring involved in having to give up your own baby. These examples in addition to the health risks and money costs involved in birth are enough to understand the serious benefits involved for a mother who decides to have an abortion.
If you view fetuses as living beings, however, you would find it cruel to kill someone just to further your own needs. You would also believe that leaving your child up for adoption would always be a better solution to murder. While it is still possible to understand the difficulties facing the mother, you could hardly justify the murder of an unborn baby. This is because no matter what the context is, the baby would never deserve to die as it has done nothing wrong.
The solution to this dilemma is to look at it through the view of virtue ethics. This allows you to act the way a virtuous, or good, person would in your situation. This eliminates cases where abortions are issued for poor reasons. Cases where a woman routinely has abortions with no consideration for the loss of life or cases where a young woman might be pressured into having an abortion by her parents would be deemed immoral and thus eliminated. Virtue ethics would still allow for the above mentioned cases where the needs of the mother heavily outweigh the death of a fetus, even if you consider the fetus to be alive. You would also be required to try adoption when it is possible. This is a better view of abortion as opposed to deontology which would never allow abortion. This is because deontology says "that no person should be treated as a means to an end, but only as an end"(Merril 11). No matter the reason, abortion would be treating fetuses as a means and therefore would be immoral.
In sum, whether you consider an unborn baby as a living being or not, virtue ethics allows for some leeway in specific cases where most would consider an abortion as morally acceptable. This is preferable to deontology, which flat out rejects abortion as wrong, because abortion is not always that simple.
John C. Merril, "Overview: Theoretical Foundations for Media Ethics," 3-32 In A. David Gordon, John M
Kittross, John C Merril, William Babcock, and Michael Dorsher (eds.), Controversies in Media ethics,
3rd Edition (New York: Routledge, 2011).............................................................................................................