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Abortion: Pro/Con Discussion

Without fail, the issue of abortion elicits passionate reactions from virtually everyone who discusses it due the emotional, personal nature of the subject. The philosophical questions that such a topic raises often strike at the very heart of oneÆs religious and moral beliefs, and immediately seem to put one on the defensive. The discussion becomes all the more thorny when rape is introduced into the equation. Indeed, in the case of rape, we have the ultimate unwanted pregnancy, and it is difficult to analyze that situation in the same way that we might consider abortion in cases where it seems to function as birth control after the fact. Rape victims who find themselves pregnant seem to require special consideration as women who have been brutalized in a most hideous way and now must deal with the aftermath in the painful form of a child. Many pro-life supporters, however, view abortion as murder, regardless of the circumstances. It is thus a dilemma without any easy answers.

The philosophical question at the center of any argument involving abortion regards the moral status of the fetus. This is due to the fact that if the fetus is indeed a human life worthy of protection, abortion cannot be reduced to a matter of individual liberty, namely that of a womanÆs right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. For if the fetus does represent a human life, then it too has rights that must be guarded, and abortion, a process which destroys the fetus, would not be a victimless crime (Honderich, 1995).

Those in the pro-life movement who oppose abortion believe that the fetus is, in fact, a human life, and as such, deserves protection from the legal system. In their eyes, abortion is the murder of an innocent life. Pro-choice activists, however, defend abortion on the basis that the fetus is not a human being, citing both the lack of viability outside the womb and an absence of rational self-consciousnes...

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