Abortion From An Ethical Point Of View

“ Describe and evaluate any two contrasting theoretical approaches to the moral debate of abortion.”
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It is widely accepted that the fact of abortion has been a subject of conversation and controversy for many decades. Since the proportion of people who accept abortion as a ‘normal’ procedure is equal to the proportion of those who think of abortion as a ‘crime’, through time a lot of measurements have been taken against abortion but concerning it’s defense as well. Although the fact of abortion has been examined through it’s scientific and religious side, in this assignment we will try and examine abortion from an ethical point of view.
The best way for someone to refer to abortion on an ethical basis would probably be through the description and evaluation of the subject based on two of the most known theoretical approaches: those of Kant’s and of Utilitarianism (Act and Rule).
Beginning with the approach of Utilitarianism, we must say that Utilitarianism, is concerned basically with pleasure and with pain. Therefore someone should be concerned with the amounts of pleasure and pain in situations where abortion is permitted as contrasted with the amounts of pleasure and pain where abortion is forbidden.
It might be suggested that the main consideration would be the interests of the fetus: not only can its future life be expectedly happy (or at least having a balance of happiness over suffering) it might also be the case that the abortion itself is painful, particularly if it occurs later in the pregnancy. However this focus on the fetus is unwarranted since any suffering involved in the abortion itself can be avoided by simply aborting the pregnancy sooner (before the fetus has even developed the capability of suffering), or with painless techniques. The direct suffering of the fetus can therefore be no argument against abortion generally, only the bad practice of it.
A more significant consideration exists if we hypothesize that the future life of the fetus involves a probable balance of happiness over suffering for the fetus. This would seem to be a definite point against abortion, though not, a dominant one.
The second party that we should consider are the parents and other family, and guardians if the alternative to abortion is adoption. According to some studies, having a baby appears to decrease the happiness in a relationship - even in those cases where the pregnancy is desired. But again, this need not be considered too much, it is not a dominant consideration.
As is the case with many issues in a utilitarian system, the rightness or wrongness of the act in question turns mainly not on the effects of the act on the agent, nor on the beings directly affected by the act, but on the less direct effects on the community at large. That means that the issue of abortion actually becomes one of the desirability of increasing or decreasing the population.
Given that there must be some population size that can be regarded as the “perfect” size, if we are allowed to place it this way for a society, it is clear that Utility will ban new births above this amount while below this population size Utility will prescribe reproduction.
So the utilitarian, who suggests that the future happiness of the child, combined with the estimated value of the effects on others, is such that Utility opposes abortion, must admit that this would imply that Utility prescribes an increase in population and that this would apply to anyone capable of producing a child. So Utility is generally against abortion only when it is generally for raising the population. In terms of utility, the actual act of abortion is not a particularly significant one.
A brief mention must be made of why it is that the relative effects on the community at large are dominant in this issue, and why the other considerations are not. It must be remembered that the raising of a child in a modern developed country has a very large cost in financial terms, which is highly significant. It is well known that the amount required to raise one child in a developed country could probably raise many more in a poorer part of the world. So if increasing the human population is