The Ethics And Ethics Of Abortion

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Abortion has been one of the most debated social and political topics since it was made legal in South Africa. Through the application of different philosophical arguments this paper will showcase in detail if abortion is either immoral or permissible using ethical underpinnings (cite 2). In this essay abortion will be defined as the deliberate removal of a fetus from the womb of a human female through the request of the mother resulting in the death of the fetus. Abortions are thus voluntary actions of removing a human fetus. In the South African context where hospitals and clinics are performing between 2000 and 3000 abortions every month, this reveals a worrying trend. What exacerbates this trend is the data
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The greatest controversy with determining if abortion is permissible or not is one of defining if whether the fetus is a human being or not. In a genetic sense a human being is defined as the member of biological species, homo species which includes fetuses and humans without functioning brains. In the moral sense a human being is defined as a fully-fledged member of the moral community, consisting of all and only persons. Moral humanity overrides the genetic humanity in that there are five characteristics that entitle an entity to be considered a person: consciousness and in particular the capacity to feel pain; reasoning; self-motivated activity; capacity to communicate; and the presence of self-concept and self-awareness [The ethics of abortion, (2015)]. Warren (1973) argues that if any ‘being’ does not possess most of these characteristics it is then rendered not a human being in the moral sense, thus assuming that there is no stage during fetal development at which a fetus resembles a person enough to have a significant right to life [The ethics of abortion, (2015)]. A counter-argument to the above school of thought points out that if killing the fetus is permissible because they are not ‘full-fledged’ members of the moral community, by the same standards it would be permissible or justifiable to kill new-borns as they have not entailed these five characteristics of ‘personhood’ and depend fully on an adult individual to survive and cannot survive on its own.
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