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Philosophy Assignment: When (if ever) Is Abortion Morally Permissible?


Task: Prepare a philosophy assignmentpresenting a report on the topic “When (if ever) is abortion morally permissible?”.


Abortion is one of the most controversial issues in the present scenario possessing hardly any grounds of agreement regarding the two polar aspects. The argument highlighted herein philosophy assignment is based on life and death but the burden of uncertainty associated with various complications like stigma, responsibilities, medical issues, safety, security and more make it parlous. There is an outcry of murder associated with abortion. Abortion was legally restricted in most countries by the end of the 19th century due to risk of the woman’s life, stigma and transgression of social morality along with protection of foetallife, but with the advancement in medical science the process became safer and thus the restrictions for abortion gradually got limited to only punitive and deterrent purposes along with protection of foetal life . The report here will be portraying the scenarios of the argument for and against abortion accompanied with theories and philosophical contexts relevant to the present scenario harping on its strengths and weaknesses.

What is abortion?

Abortion includes ending pregnancy prior to the normal process of childbirth where the life of the foetus undergoes cessation. Mostly the term induced abortion is used as there are close to six different ways of terminating the pregnancy, dilatation and curettage, dilatation and evacuation, saline instillation, vacuum aspiration intra-amniotic prostaglandins instillation along with extra amniotic prostaglandins instillation in various countries like the USA . In this context, certain processes are classified as instillation procedures and the rest as evacuation processes.

Why is abortion problematic
Abortion was mostly rejected in the earlier centuries due to religious reasons but with modernity, various complications started sweeping in like whether the foetus possesses humanity and should be given the human right to live but, in that process, should the health and wellbeing of the mother be compromised . Other issues like the responsibility of the medical practitioners associated with the act of abortion become inured in taking human lives (foetuses) at the request of mothers. Other issues are regarding teenage pregnancy which carries stigma and responsibilities along with safety and wellbeing. It has been observed that there are almost 64 unintended pregnancies along with 40 abortions every 100 women from the year 2015-2019 globally which highlights that though unintended abortion rates have mitigated from 199 to 2019 however the abortion rate remains almost the same . Along with these, the basic problem remains that whether it should be included in a form of the healthcare facility where the safe abortion techniques should be facilitated among the public or the traditional restriction regarding negating abortion or circumstances leading to it should be preached.

Concerned theories supporting arguments
It has been pointed out that abortion is mostly a case of serious immorality as it falls in the same category concerning killing an innocent adult human being where the foetus is given the same right as a human being indicating the right to live . Marquis’s theory did not consider the cases of rape or other hard incidents but generally discussed the events negating abortion upholding it as a moral crime. The pro-life arguments here assets similarities with Marquis's viewpoint. On the contrary, the pro-choice arguments consider the absolute right of women over their bodies including procreation and holds abortion to be another procedure of birth control that should be made available to women in case they need it. They maintain their position by picturing the lives of women in a patriarchal society characterized by stringent abortion laws along with high morality concerning the conceptus life as they do not have to experience the exhaustion as well as pains associated with labour and delivery during childbirth. however, in certain studies its is pointed out that the premise where the foetus is considered to be a human is false as a newly fertilized ovum is only a clump of cells and can hardly be compared with a living adult human being.

Considering the Texas debateGov Greg Abbott signified the strictest abortion measure by banning abortion procedures as early as 6 weeks into the conception of a foetus . there was a huge debate triggered by the incident where students taking the pro-life agenda supports an organization through public advocacy as well as rendering resources to students expecting or raising a child by providing scholarship money or services like babysitting . On the other hand, there was a student who dejected the premise and supported abortion by highlighting the notion of choice where people and especially women should be given the liberty to make choices for themselves to maintain wellbeing which is also another important right as a citizen. There are other issues like medical dangers where the proponents of pro-life positions argue that abortion in many cases may also cause harm to the wellbeing of the mother. However, the pro-choice supporters highlight the medical advancement and technological emergence that guarantees safer ways of abortion. There are other major previews in the debate like the Domino argument where it is considered that disregard to any form of human life whether born or unborn may lead to a domino effect triggering a complete disregard concerning human life and all its aspects. It especially concerns the medical practitioners who are under the oath of saving human life and are associated with the process of abortion . The opponents on the other hand refute the concept and render it as a slippery slope argument as there is hardly any evidence to show that abortion causes a loss of reverence associated with human life. They further argue that various foetalanomaliescause deformity in children even leading to death where the mother suffers deeply whereas a planned and desired child will increase the life expectancy of both the mother and the child leading to wellbeing and love for each other in the process.

When (if ever) is abortion morally permissible?
As explored in the arguments above there are both prolife and prochoice satements that asseses the moral permissibility regarding abortion. One side of the argument portrays the immorality of abortion as the fetal is considered living being and aborting it negate the sanctity of life and is considered highly immoral. Whereas the prochoice suppoters emphasizes the needs and wellbeing of the mother and her body upholding here choice to decision making regarding her child where it is morally correct for the mother measuring the safety of pregnancy and also life after that along with highlighting the absolute right of the women over their bodies. In this context stages of pregnancy also is considered, as in early stages of pregnancy abortion is permissible in certain areas considering that the child has not even started to form, however in the Texas debate as discussed abortion procedures are restricted as early as 6 weeks into the conception of a foetus. Mary Warren on the other hand who wrote about the moral and legal status of abortion (1973) mentioned abortion to be morally persmissable at any stage of preganacy as any being that do not have most of 1-5 can hardly be considered human in the moral sense and explains the redundancy of any stage regarding fetaldevlepment as in no instance a fetus has the ability to resemble a person enough for having a significant right to life .

Apply philosophical concepts to contemporary problems and their proposed solutions
Considering philosophical concepts regarding selective abortion in race and background along with the era of advancement plays a major role. Sex selection and female infanticide are common to certain races and backgrounds. In this context, the effect of television and media culture is a contemporary issue where television shows like Grey’s anatomy examine the nuances involved in the abortion process, patients, abortion providers as well as barriers portraying access through television . the genre and narrative purpose shaped in these stories also provide an implication on racial identities rendering significant context for comprehending reproductive experiences . Out of nearly 31 abortion plotlines in television close to 73% (majority) obtained abortion shaping the contemporary culture . While portraying outlines around a character of colour going through abortion the depictions possess mixed characteristics including both progressive attitudes in making race visible or regressive based on problematic racial tropes. These telecasts inform the audience regarding the concept and in certain instances process of abortion making it a more explicit topic of discussion which in various cases helps to increase awareness.

Domino argument is another philosophical concept considering the reverence towards human life. It especially concerns the medical practitioners who are under the oath of saving human life and are associated with the process of abortion. Currently with the increase of teenage pregnancy and abortion needs due to stigma in the society as conception before marriage stains the reputation of a woman there has been various hospitals who illegally conducts abortion casusinga medical risk for the mother . However with the increase of awareness and agility regarding rights of the women to choose abortion can be conducted in hospital with proper documentation of the patient which increases protection of the mother.

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different philosophical approaches to complex political problems
State legislatures in various cases adopted abortion restrictions targeting certain populations and conditions of pregnancy by prohibiting abortion based on sex selection, genetic anomaly or race selection . These prohibitions stigmatize pregnant individuals of colour seeking abortions by questioning the motivation triggering their decision to abort. Selective abortion can lead to major sex ratio disparity as observed in various countries like India . Selective abortion in certain cases helps in diagnosing foetal abnormality which leads to permanent disability or even death after a short period, which informs the parents to assess the situation after birth and take decisions accordingly for the wellbeing of the family . With technical and medical advancements treatments can be rendered for foetal anomalies and allows the parents to decide their prospects of fostering the child assessing their mental and financial conditions to deal with a specially-abled child. Another philosophical concept pertaining to the concept of the sanctity of life where the foetus is given the right of a human from the moment of conception thus rendering the foetus a right to live. The concept helps understand the qualms of killing the child . However, the concept conflicts with the other rights like a woman’s right to her own body as she is expected to go through childbirth and raising the child risking her physical health and wellbeing.

The report here highlighted the idea of abortion discussing the arguments for and against it considering the ethical standards of society. It further includes the concerned theories like Marquis’s theory and the Texas debate along with other philosophical concepts highlighting complementary problems along with their solutions. Moreover, the essay also widens the focus on the strengths and weaknesses of various philosophical approaches to complex political problems. Certain strong points have been presented in the essay highlighting both supporting and negating the concept of abortion connecting it to issues like stigma, ensuring wellbeing of mother and her body, medical issues, the concept of the human right to live along with discrepancies faced by medical practitioners associated with the process of abortion. Selective abortion ?

1Hogue, C., Tietze, C. and Cates, J., 2021. The effects of induced abortion on subsequent reproduction. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021].

2Hogue, C., Tietze, C. and Cates, J., 2021. The effects of induced abortion on subsequent reproduction. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021]. 3Bok, S., 2021. Ethical problems of abortion. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021].

4, 2021. Unintended pregnancy and abortion rates worldwide 1990-2019 | Statista.Statista. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021].

5Marquis, D., 1989. Why abortion is immoral. The Journal of Philosophy, 86(4), pp.183-202. 6Thomson, J.J., 1976. A defense of abortion.In Biomedical ethics and the law (pp. 39-54).Springer, Boston, MA. 7Najmabadi, S., 2021. Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law one of nation’s strictest abortion measures, banning procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The Texas Tribune.Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021].

8Varnell, N., 2021. Students debate new Texas abortion restrictions. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021].
9Jali, M., 2021. Abortion-a philosophical perspective. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021]., 2021. The Ethics of Abortion. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 October 2021].
1Sisson, G., Walter, N., Herold, S. and Brooks, J.J., 2021. Prime time abortion on Grey's Anatomy: What do US viewers learn from fictional portrayals of abortion on television.Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.
2Herold, S., Sisson, G. and Bracey Sherman, R., 2020. “I can’t believe your mixed ass wasn’t on the pill!”: race and abortion on American scripted television, 2008-2019. Feminist Media Studies, pp.1-17., 2021. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021].
4Golding, J., Robinson, J., Henriques, J. and Thomas, P., 2021. Does conception before marriage matter. [online] PubMed.Gov. Available at: [Accessed 5 October 2021]., 2021. Banning Abortions in Cases of Race or Sex Selection or Fetal Anomaly.Guttmacher Institute. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021].
6Retherford, R. and Roy, T., 2021. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021]., 2021. Termination of Pregnancy for Fetal Abnormality. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021].
8Jali, M., 2021. Abortion-a philosophical perspective. Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2021].


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