Ethical issues with Abortion

Mind Map by brogan_mace, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by brogan_mace almost 6 years ago


A Levels Ethics Mind Map on Ethical issues with Abortion, created by brogan_mace on 03/04/2014.

Resource summary

Ethical issues with Abortion
1 Some philosophers argue that the 'right to life' is an ambiguous phrase. They say that it combines two different ideas, and that it is useful to separate them.
1.1 the right not to be killed unjustly
1.2 the right to be provided with everything needed to sustain life
2 In some circumstances it may be ethical for a mother to have an abortion to defend herself from the danger to her mental or physical health that continuing with the pregnancy would cause.
2.1 in practical terms it won't, because if the pregnancy kills the mother it will probably kill the foetus too
3 allowing disability as a reason for abortion implies that disabled people, or the lives of disabled people, are less worthwhile than the lives of "normal" people
3.1 this will make disabled people feel less valued
3.2 this is offensive to disabled people
4 most people with disabilities say that they would much rather be alive than have been killed in the womb. Allowing abortion on the grounds of disability therefore pre-empts the choice of the individual concerned
5 Section 1(1)d of the UK's 1967 Abortion Act allowed termination of a pregnancy at any time if there was a significant risk of the baby being born seriously disabled. Under other circumstances abortion has to take place during the first 6 months of the pregnancy.
6 Some writers argue that it is inconsistent to support abortion if you oppose capital punishment, weapons of mass destruction, and so on.
7 In an article written in 1980, Mary Meehan argued that if many people on the left of society were consistent in their compassion for the weak and helpless, and their opposition to exploitation they would oppose abortion.
7.1 the left has traditionally wanted to protect the weak and the helpless; unborn children are the weakest and most helpless, and so should be protected
7.2 the right to life underlies all other human rights - if we protect those rights we should protect the right to life as well
7.3 abortion is sometimes forced on women by exploiting partners or families
7.4 abortion is sometimes forced on women because society fails to supply their needs
7.5 parents have an obligation to their unborn children - it is wrong for them to escape it
7.6 abortion brutalises those who carry it out, or who are involved in the process
8 Abortion is wrong because it deprives the foetus of a 'future like ours'.
9 Marquis makes the points that: death is a bad thing because it deprives people of all the experiences, activities, enjoyments, projects that would make up their future personal life
9.1 a premature death is a bad thing because it causes the loss of future experiences etc.
9.2 abortion is not the same thing as premature death but abortion deprives the foetus of future experiences in the same way as a premature death deprives a human being of future experiences
9.3 Abortion is a bad thing for the foetus in the same way as premature death is for human beings,therefore abortion is as wrong as killing people (causing their premature death)
10 Some people have claimed that this argument also shows that contraception is wrong, because contraception prevents beings having a 'future like ours'.
11 Lockhart suggests that we should "perform actions that we are maximally confident are morally permissible".
11.1 this says that where we have to make a moral choice we should take the course of action that we are most confident is morally correct.
11.2 a mother believes that on balance it is morally permissible to abort the foetus she is carrying because tests show that it will have a serious disability
11.3 since she has some doubts (even though they are very small doubts) as to whether an abortion in this case is morally permissible, she should not have the abortion
12 abortion is not wrong where the foetus, if born, would be so handicapped that it would not be capable of having any future experiences (or at least none that it was aware of).
13 If you voluntarily act in a way that brings about the existence of a person or a foetus, then you have a responsibility to maintain the life of that person or foetus.
14 a woman who willingly has sexual intercourse knows that she takes the risk of bringing a foetus/moral person into existence
14.1 therefore the woman has a duty of care to the foetus/moral person
14.2 therefore she should allow the resulting foetus/moral person to be born
14.3 therefore she should not abort the foetus/moral person
15 Utilitarian
15.1 Depending on the situation will determind whether the abortion is the right thing to do or not.
15.2 Only works if it is actually possible to asses the results of an abortion and decide whether they favour all concerned
15.2.1 Difficult because we can't predict consequences
16 Natural Law
16.1 Considers the action of abortion itself not the consequence
16.2 Reproduction is a primary precept and abortion goes against that
16.3 If you consider the foetus to be a human being from conception, then abortion goes against the primary principle to preserve innocent life.
17 Kantian Ethics
17.1 Abortion would be hard to universalise
17.1.1 There are so many different situations and motivations for obtaining an abortion. All consideration of emotions must be discarded Abortion is an emotional decision
17.2 Emphasis on treating people as ends in themselves and not as means to an end.
17.2.1 Abortion would go against this, if the foetus is considered to be a person
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