A Critique of John T. Noonan's an Almost Absolute Value in History

1251 Words Aug 11th, 2013 6 Pages
A Critique of An Almost Absolute Value in History “An Almost Absolute Value in History,” by John Noonan, argues against the morality of abortion at any time during a pregnancy. According to Noonan (2012) humanity begins at the moment of conception. Therefore, the unborn child has the inherent right to live, and abortion at any stage of gestation would be the equivalent of murder (p. 472). He makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. The only exception he makes is when continuing a pregnancy puts the mother’s life at risk. His arguments are strong against abortion at a later stage of pregnancy, but they are not as strong in arguing that abortion is immoral as soon as fertilization of an ovum occurs. …show more content…
An argument might be made for the indicator being some specific marker of development, such as when the baby begins “practice breathing,” meaning that its lungs could function outside of the womb. There could also be fetal length and weight restrictions on abortion. The next position that Noonan (2012) disputes is that humanity is defined by experience. Someone has to have lived and formed memories to be considered human. He disputes this belief in several ways, with varying successfulness. His first argument is that an embryo feels and reacts at eight weeks gestation (p. 470). This argument is strong in supporting abortion bans after 8 weeks or 10 weeks (when the embryo is considered a fetus). It is not as strong in supporting abortion bans altogether, which is his argument. It does not support Noonan’s theory that an embryo becomes “human” at the moment of conception. Few could argue that a blastocyst (the bundle of cells that will form the embryo) is having experiences. He next argues that the requirement of memories is not a pertinent way to establish humanity. He states that very young children or those who have experienced memory loss would not be considered human under that definition because they have no memories (Noonan, 2012, p. 470). This argument is weak because those with memory loss did form memories, even if they have since lost them. New research also suggests that young children might actually be

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