Random thoughts and views of Tim Young

Abortion (part 2): Pro-choice Arguments, Circumstances, and Permissibility

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black_teen_pregnancy3So just what “grounds” the moral permissibility of abortion then? The argument I introduced last post can be summed up as: if x is non-human life, then it is morally permissible to kill x. But as I pointed out last post, there are tons of things that would fit the bill — cats, birds, whales, tigers, spiders, puppies, etc., all of which we wouldn’t consider killing just because of their non-human status. So there’s got to be something more to the abortion case.


Pro-choicers will routinely claim that abortion is only permissible under certain circumstances. So, for example, they may say that when the mother’s pregnancy is the result of rape, abortion is permissible. Also they may say that when the mother is unfit for child rearing abortion is permissible. A poor, pregnant teenaged single parent living in the inner city with two other children she cannot adequately care for, should not be forced to carry a third baby to term. Or, say a child’s future environment is deemed unsuitable. Perhaps the child will likely grow up in an abusive environment or in an environment that will likely lead to a short life of gangs and prison time. In the inner-city where the pregnancy rate among young teens is high, many babies grow up to be gang members, enter prison, or end up at home with fours kids, pregnant and on welfare. Sure adoption is an option, but the pro-choicers’ point is that the mother shouldn’t be forced to carry the baby to term. Especially when doing so will likely cause even more hardships to the woman. And this is true not only of inner-city young women, but also of those from suburban areas. They may not have to worry so much about their kids ending up in gangs and in prison, nevertheless, they do have their fair share of hardships to endure.


The point to glean from all this is that in addition to the fetus’ non-human status, there are also circumstances necessary for grounding the permissibility of abortion. Granted, pro-choicers will disagree on just what circumstances will suffice, nevertheless, circumstances along with the fetus’ non-human status is what is needed to ground the permissibility of abortion. So in answer to the question “What grounds the permissibility of abortion?” we have the following answer:


1. The fetus’ non-human status.

2. Relevant circumstances which have been met.


What can be said in response to this? I’ll examine that next post.


Written by Tim

January 4, 2009 at 8:19 pm

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