Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Abortion

Posted by Michael Dickens on February 3, 2009

This sure is a fun issue.

At Balanced Politics there are several arguments for and against abortion. I’ll be talking about those.

Here are the ten arguments against abortion:

1. Abortion is a form of murder and demeans the value of human life.
2. Other birth control is readily available; thus, abortion shouldn’t be a form of birth control.
3. The societal contributions of a potentially valuable human being are wiped out.
4. Women who have abortions often suffer major psychological damage from the experience along with, in some cases, the father of the child.
5. The advances of genetic testing may prompt more abortions (to avoid having the non-ideal child).
6. There are many couples who spend years on waiting lists trying to adopt a child.
7. The abortion decision is often made by minors or young adults, who don’t have the maturity and life experiences to make good decisions.
8. People have the right not to see their tax dollars go to something they find immoral.
9. Abortion eliminates legal rights of the unborn child.
10. Abortion is against doctors’ Hippocratic Oath.

1. “When a pregnant women feels a kick in her belly, she doesn’t say “Oh, the fetus kicked” or “Oh, the mass of cells that hasn’t become a person kicked”, she says “The baby kicked.””
The fetus does not kick when it is a small mass of cells. It only kicks after it is well-developed. And anyway, that’s a fallacy that I will call “appeal to language”. If you call a table a baby, that doesn’t make it a baby. If you call a collection of cells inside a uterus a baby, that doesn’t make it a baby.

Back to the original point: killing a just-conceived fetus is not murder any more than taking antibiotics is murder.

While under development, most species of animal are very similar early on in development. At that point, the animal hasn’t become any species yet; it’s just a little shrimplike thing.

Abortion is murder? Well, let’s take a look at what makes murder bad. Essentially, people prefer being alive over being dead. There are sound evolutionary reasons for this. People are conscious beings, who greatly dislike being killed. So it is considered wrong to kill them, because it is so upsetting to the murderee. Sure, you could say that murder is bad because it robs the person of the potential chance of a good life. But if that’s the case, then every time an egg goes unfertilized, it’s murder. So I will refrain from using that definition.

2. “Maybe if abortion wasn’t available, people wouldn’t be so careless in the first place.”
The statistics show that teen pregnancies began increasing after the Roe v. Wade case. Of course, they have been increasing for a while. And correlation is not necessarily causation.

But by the same argument, we could say that we shouldn’t allow birth control, and people should only have sex when they want to have children. But that’s just unreasonable. Simply because it could help to prevent people from being careless doesn’t mean it has to be done. It’s not the government’s job to make sure that nobody does anything stupid.

Against my own argument, it’s not just harmful to people, but it’s harmful to the government when people don’t have health insurance and need an abortion.

In conclusion, I see this as a relatively strong argument.

3. “What would the world be like if the mothers of Abe Lincoln, George Washington, or Thomas Edison had had an abortion?”
Not every opportunity for a person to be born must be taken. Society will do fine without the addition of some people, even if those people are very important people. The cost of bringing up all those un-aborted babies outweighs the potential benefit of an occasional great person.

4. Firstly, this is not always the case, and so it is not common enough to outweigh the suffering that would be caused if abortions were made illegal.

Secondly, the government is there to protect people, to an extent. But it is not the government’s job to completely prevent people from doing something that they will regret. I can’t think of a good analogy right now. The point is, people need to think for themselves sometimes. They must think, Will I feel guilty about this? Waiting periods are helpful for that sort of thing.

To refute my own argument: people don’t always know what they will feel guilty about.

Well, they should think harder about it. Then maybe they’d realize that they would feel guilty.

5. This argument assumes that abortion is wrong in the first place. The pro-life side must prove that abortion is wrong before this is a sound argument.

6. It is wrong for the government to force people to put their babies up for adoption instead of aborting them: it is the mother’s choice. I have no problem, though, with encouraging mothers to put their babies up for adoption instead of aborting them.

7. I see getting pregnant as one of these bad decisions, and abortions as a way to make amends.

8. Well, no they don’t. Not constitutionally. Maybe ethically, but that’s a different matter.

This argument is not anti-abortion. It’s anti-abortion-paid-for-by-taxes. This could be solved just by insurance companies or individuals paying for abortions.

9. See argument one.

10. “Every American doctor must take this fundamental oath, which says “First, do no harm”. It threatens the very fabric of the entire medical field if doctors start using their own personal philosophies on life to decide who should or shouldn’t be harmed. Whether or not you think abortion should be allowed, it cannot be disputed that a doctor is harming a living organism. Killing a human being doesn’t serve any higher medical purpose and is therefore a violation of the oath. ”

Virtually everything that a doctor does break that oath. Prescribing antibiotics kills billions of bacteria, and it cannot be disputed that bacteria are living organisms. Why should an undeveloped fetus be any different?

In conclusion, everyone who disagrees with me is wrong.

EDIT: A new argument has come to my attention. It is not from the same site, but is from a discussion I was having with somebody.

11. Fetuses have nerves, and can feel every minute of the abortion.

This may be true. I am finding it difficult to find any resources that tell at what point fetuses grow nerves. I know that they don’t start with nerves, and I see no problem with aborting a fetus before it has nerves (or consciousness, but that develops after nerves).

Another question is, is it morally wrong to kill something/one who can feel it? We kill cows and chickens all the time, and they can certainly feel pain. But the question is, why? Why is it okay to induce pain on cows and chickens, and eventually kill them? It’s because then, we get to eat them, and we value their meat more than we value their lives. So in the case of fetuses, we value the mother’s choice more than we value the life of the fetus.

To delve further, I would have to get into the question of, Does life have inherent value? and to talk about the kind of things involved, I’ll have to do some more thinking about what I actually believe.

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2 Responses to “Abortion”

  1. Phynnboi said

    Technically, we’re all just collections of cells. 🙂

    I don’t really know how I feel about abortion. Unlike gay marriage, abortion has quite a few strong arguments against it that don’t appeal strictly to religion.

    The easiest case is when bearing the child is deemed likely to kill or otherwise extraordinarily injure the mother. In that case, it’s reasonable to apply the rules of murder in self-defense to this case and allow the abortion.

    The oft-cited case of rape-induced pregnancy is tougher. Unlike a lot of people, I imagine, I tend to think of this more in evolutionary terms, where, if the mother is forced to have the child, the rapist “wins” because he gets to pass on his genes. On the other hand, it’s not the kid’s fault how he was conceived, so why should he be “punished” for it? I don’t know about this one.

    An easier case, in my mind, anyway, is using abortion for birth control. In this case, I think it’s far preferable to put the kid up for adoption rather than aborting it. One thing I most certainly disagree with, though, is the sentiment I often see that, because a woman has an unwanted pregnancy, she should have to bear the child AS PUNISHMENT for her misdeed. That’s clearly a case of jealousy rather than concern for the welfare of the children.

    ‘Course, in my perfect society, everyone would be sterilized and would need to apply to the government for permission to have kids. (There would likely be a waiting period of X months. There might also be screening for certain horrific, irreparable genetic ailments.) I realize that will sound terrible to most people, but it nearly eliminates the problem of unwanted pregnancies (and, thus, the issue of abortion). ‘Course, in my PERFECT society, there’d be no STDs, either. 🙂

  2. mtgap said

    Interesting post there, Phynnboi. I can’t quite tell what you think. You did say that you don’t know how you feel about it. I can see what you’re saying, though.

    I don’t think your perfect society sounds so horrible. That sounds like a good plan.

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