Abortion and the right to a child

Mind Map by Sumahlor, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by Sumahlor over 6 years ago


A-Level Ethics Mind Map on Abortion and the right to a child, created by Sumahlor on 05/06/2015.

Resource summary

Abortion and the right to a child
  1. The deliberate termination of a pregnancy by artificial means
    1. In 1967, it became legal in the UK up to 28 weeks
      1. In 1991, this was reduced to 24 weeks
        1. This before the foetus can survive independendtly
          1. The foetus may be aborted past this time to save the mother, or in case of severe abnormality
            1. If it can survive outside the womb, it needs legal protection
              1. The 'viability phase' is 20-24 weeks
          2. 30% of pregnancies are aborted
          3. The issues
            1. What is a person?
              1. When does life begin?
                1. Is it murder to abort a foetus?
                  1. Is there always a duty to preserve innocent life?
                    1. Is the mother or the foetus more important?
                      1. Is human life intrinsically valuable?
                      2. When does life begin? (Personhood)
                        1. Once you've decided a foetus is a person, it needs protection
                          1. The Catholic Church teaches that life begins at conception
                            1. This comes from Pope Pius XI's 'Casti Connubi'
                              1. The 1982 Warnock Committee found that conception is a process, not a moment
                              2. This is an attractively clear-cut definition
                                1. Biblical support: Jeremiah 1:5 - 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.'
                              3. A foetus is a potential person
                                1. You could say the same for sperm and eggs but they don't get legal protection
                                  1. The law says personhood occurs after conception, from 24 weeks
                                    1. Other options:
                                      1. Implantation in the womb (6-7 weeks)
                                        1. Heartbeat starts (4 weeks)
                                          1. The primitive streak - when you can tell if there are twins (14th day)
                                            1. Birth
                                              1. Supported by Mary Anne Warren - no longer total reliance on mother
                                                1. Criticised by Joseph Glover - there's no difference between a born baby and a late foetus
                                                2. Aquinas said ensoulment was at 40 days for boys and 90 for girls
                                          2. The sanctity of life
                                            1. The idea that all life is sacred because it comes from God and so we have a duty to protect it
                                              1. Catholics say we are made 'imago dei' - in God's image (Genesis 1:26)
                                                1. If all life comes from God, only he can decide when to end it
                                                  1. The double effect is tolerated (when a foetus is killed to protect the mother's life)
                                                  2. 'Weak' sanctity of life is the belief that exceptions can be made
                                                    1. The Church of England's report of 1965 said that there must be compassion for the mother's physical and mental health
                                                      1. At times a foetus may be seen as an 'aggressor'
                                                  3. For and against
                                                    1. For
                                                      1. Values all human life equally
                                                        1. Respects the individual's future
                                                          1. There can be no group pressure to abort a disabled foetus
                                                          2. Against
                                                            1. The mother's wishes may not be considered
                                                              1. Sperm and eggs not seen as people?
                                                                1. Peter Singer - why do we not have that consideration for animal foetuses?
                                                                  1. Natural selection disproves 'imago dei'
                                                              2. Quality of life
                                                                1. Factors in pain, rational choice, and the right to enjoy life
                                                                  1. Considers mother, foetus and society, but often the mother comes first
                                                                    1. Judith Jarvis Thomas: the dying violinist analogy - you have no duty to him, and you have no duty to a foetus.
                                                                      1. He has a right to life, but you have no obligation to give it
                                                                    2. Is this playing God? Is there disrespect for the human life?
                                                                  2. What is a person?
                                                                    1. Genetically human?
                                                                      1. Conceived by humans?
                                                                        1. Has a soul?
                                                                          1. Has a future?
                                                                            1. Able to survive birth?
                                                                              1. Mary Anne Warren's criteria
                                                                                1. Sentience
                                                                                  1. Emotionality
                                                                                    1. Reason
                                                                                      1. Communication
                                                                                        1. Self-awareness
                                                                                          1. Moral agency
                                                                                            1. Not all are vital, but a foetus has none
                                                                                          2. Applying ethical theories to abortion
                                                                                            1. Utilitarianism
                                                                                              1. Human life does not have an absolute value
                                                                                                1. Address each situation individually
                                                                                                  1. Address all results and how they affect those concerned - not easy
                                                                                                    1. Preference utilitarianism completely disregards the foetus as it has no preference
                                                                                                2. Natural law
                                                                                                  1. Doesn't look at consequences or people, but the action
                                                                                                    1. Abortion goes against reproduction
                                                                                                      1. Innocent life
                                                                                                3. Kant
                                                                                                  1. Abortion is hard to universalise because there are so many conflicting circumstances and POVs
                                                                                                    1. Emotion must be disregarded - makes this a bad theory to use?
                                                                                                      1. Consequences ignored
                                                                                                        1. Stage of pregnancy probably not considered
                                                                                                          1. Foetus could be a means to a contented life
                                                                                                  2. The right to a child
                                                                                                    1. IVF is used to help infertile couples have children
                                                                                                      1. Louise Brown - first IVF baby, 1978
                                                                                                        1. What are the issues?
                                                                                                          1. Is a child a gift or a right?
                                                                                                            1. Are sperm samples acceptable? (Some catholics say that sperm should not be wasted)
                                                                                                              1. Discarded sperm/eggs/foetuses?
                                                                                                                1. Foetuses used in experimentation
                                                                                                              2. Third parties - donors and surrogates
                                                                                                                1. Not what God wants - 'Hannah had no children, because the Lord had closed her womb.'
                                                                                                                  1. Saviour siblings and designer babies?
                                                                                                                    1. Will it provide less motivation to prevent causes of infertility and miscarriages?
                                                                                                                    2. Solution to a medical problem or playing God?
                                                                                                                    3. Who might not have a right?
                                                                                                                      1. 1948 declaration of human rights says we all have a 'right to found a family'
                                                                                                                        1. This is not a specific right to reproduce
                                                                                                                        2. Elderly mothers? Maria del Carmen Bousada - twin sons age 67 by IVF, then died of stomach cancer two years later
                                                                                                                          1. Protestants: banning IVF 'refuses a right to create God's image in our own'
                                                                                                                            1. Do men have as much right to reproduce as women?
                                                                                                                              1. There are some restrictions on reproduction anyway - incest
                                                                                                                              2. Applying ethical theories
                                                                                                                                1. Situation ethics - absolutely allowed if love is the motive and outcome
                                                                                                                                  1. Natural law - supports reproduction, but misuse of the body if donor or donating sperm
                                                                                                                                    1. Destruction of embryos
                                                                                                                                    2. Utilitarianism
                                                                                                                                      1. Measures pain of unused embryos against the pleasure of the baby and parents
                                                                                                                                        1. The embryos are less important, and not sacred
                                                                                                                                          1. Considers overpopulation, and cost to the NHS
                                                                                                                                      2. Kant
                                                                                                                                        1. No means to an end
                                                                                                                                          1. So saviour siblings and surrogacy are not allowed
                                                                                                                                            1. Universalising is tricky because of so many different issues - eg the elderly
                                                                                                                                              1. Hard to know if Kant would consider the embryo to be a person since IVG and abortion were not an issue when he was alive!
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