Abortion Ethics

The following is a paper I did for Ethics class in the Fall of 1983 at Niagara University. I received a B+ for it. I haven't changed it at all, and I'm glad to refresh my memory that my values haven't changed since...

My subject is abortion, and I am going to take a stand that abortion is always wrong because it is always wrong to intend the death of an innocent person.

To intend the death of an innocent person is the same as murder. We all accept the fact that murder is wrong. Therefore, abortion is murder, and thus abortion is wrong.

If abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother, then abortion in this case is morally right because you will not be intending the death of an innocent person. You will be, in fact, intending the death of a "guilty" person. That is, a person guilty of endangering this life of another. In this case, the abortion would be considered self-defense which is acceptable even in "murder" cases. It will not be murder, it would be self-defense.

Also, in the case of a cancerous uterus, if the doctor intends to remove the cancer from a pregnant woman's body, then it is morally right. It is only by double-effect that a person would die.

My next argument is: Is an embryo or fetus a person? I say that we do indeed have a person from the moment of conception. Anything that has the potential to become a "person", then that "thing" is a person. A wart does not have the potential to become a "person". A rock does not have the potential to become a "person". I use quotes around this "person" because this represents the person we all know the definite definition to. A zygote does not have the potential to become a "person", but it is, in fact, a person already at conception. There is no need to show presence of a heartbeat, a nervous system, or a likeness of species. We all know that a zygote that is allowed to go its term is indeed a person. There is no point along the way that it "all of a sudden" becomes a person because it always was a person.

Arguments that say the rights of the pregnant woman override the "partial" rights of the zygote, embryo, or fetus are not valid. The zygote, embryo, or fetus is a full person, not a partial person. And no person's rights override any other person's rights. These rights belong to the person that is at present a zygote, fetus, or embryo. And rights of one person cannot be transferred to another person.

Those who argue that when a woman is raped, then she has the right to an abortion, are also wrong in their argument. It is still wrong to intentionally kill another person no matter how that person was conceived. If one does argue that abortion is morally right under these conditions, then he must also argue that if one who is conceived in a rape is allowed to be born, then his life can be taken at any time. This, we all agree, would be murder. Murder is wrong, therefore abortion under these circumstances is wrong.

To summarize my argument; abortion is always morally wrong except in the cases of self-defense.

James A. Krzyzanowski