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Issue of Abortion

This paper will consider some of the philosophical questions which have been raised regarding the issue of abortion. One of the most important such questions regards the extent to which a fetus can be said to possess a right to life. If a fetus indeed has a right to life, then there obviously must be strict limitations on the extent to which be, abortions may considered morally permissible. However, there have been numerous arguments which have cast doubt on the theory that a fetus has a right to life. From this perspective, it may be said that abortion is morally permissible in nearly all cases.

One of the ways in which this question has been approached is from the view that human rights are related to "personhood." In this view, a distinction is made between a human body, which could perhaps be a corpse, and a "person," which possesses such attributes as consciousness, reasoning, self-motivated activity, capacity to communicate, and self-awareness (Harrison, 1983, p. 219). It is obvious that neither a fetus nor a newborn infant possesses any of these attributes of personhood. Therefore, it can be held that "personal life itself does not emerge in the womb at all, nor will it begin to emerge until some time after birth, when the socialization process begins" (Wennberg, 1985, p. 35). It is apparent that, given the normal course of human development, the fetus will eventually become a full-fledged person. However, while still in the womb, a fetus must be defined as being only a potential person.

There have been basic philosophical views presented regarding the rights of such potential persons. One group believes that the rights of the fetus, as a potential person, are negated in the face of the rights of the mother, who is already a complete person. On the other hand, there are those who believe that potential persons have as much right to life as existing persons. This opinion is based upon an ancient Christian theol...

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Issue of Abortion. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:03, December 06, 2021, from