Sunday, August 7, 2011

Abortion Rethought

After having a short conversation about the issues addressed in my last post, I've come to the opinion that the question may need to be re-framed as a discussion over whether the fetus is entitled to fundamental rights, to what extent and why? Or, put more broadly: at what point in a human being's development does it acquire fundamental rights? If a fetus has these rights, it is immoral to kill it even to save the life of the mother (unless one can support the argument that the mother's rights override the rights of the fetus).
Following this line of thought I tend to believe that the only legitimate dividing line that one can propose, on the basis of science and reason, is the point at which the fetus becomes viable, i.e. is able to live independent of its mother. Once a developing human has the technical/biological ability to survive as an independent entity it deserves the fundamental rights inherent to every human. Therefore, it naturally follows that, just as infanticide is illegal, it should be illegal to abort a fetus that is sufficiently developed as to be capable of surviving outside the womb. Once we have decided that an entity has human rights we cannot circumstantially violate these rights. Therefore, considerations of harm to the mother, incest or rape, cannot come into the issue.
As to the issue of early-pregnancy abortion, I believe my formerly expressed opinion is sound: it is morally questionable, I would not engage in it or advise others to do so, but I believe it should be legal since more harm would result from its being outlawed. Or, to express it in the present context, I do not believe the pre-viable embryo possesses full human rights, but I can see that I may be wrong or it may possess some rights. Therefore, on this issue I reaffirm my former conclusion: early-pregnancy abortion should be discouraged but remain legal.

1 comment:

  1. i am inherently a pro-choice being, i had a lot crap on that issue because i am not a woman... that said, technically we are not far (100 years or less?) to be able to sustain life and its development right after conception. even, most probably, without actual conception (i mean sex between a man and a woman). when does human life starts? so, when would it be moral to stop human life. is the morality of stopping it would be linked to technological advances?
    tough questions knowing that most women abort viable conceptions by using the birth control pill (the actual number of fertilized eggs that get killed because of the hormones is a huge debate but definitely not zero). is it an abortion if women chose not to think about it even if they are doing it?