Roe v. Wade and the Moral Dimensions of Abortion: Thomson vs. Marquis
Abortion is only morally permissible when the life destined for the child will be good for them. If their life will ultimately benefit them, abortion is immoral and is the unnecessary murder of a living being. Marquis’s argument is more valid than Thomson’s because Marquis touches on the importance and dignity of this living being.
Thompson supports the idea that certain life circumstances can permit the action of abortion. Because of this, these living beings should always have a chance at life, if and only if their life will be beneficial to them. Let’s define some things to clear the air. Abortion: The deliberate termination of a pregnancy. Pro-life: Opposing abortion. Pro-choice: Advocating legalized abortion. While pro-choice is more supported in the political sense, I am more of a believer in pro-choice personally. I would never abort a baby of my own, but I respect those who choose to do so for their own reasons.
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Roe v. Wade: A Closer Look at the Pro-Choice Argument
Why is pro-choice so essential? Women experience obstacles in life just like everyone else. Whether these be financial, personal, or what have you, some situations simply make raising a child difficult. For these reasons, women absolutely should have the choice to either keep or abort their babies. According to the National Abortion Federation, more Americans support pro-choice compared to pro-life. For example, they claim, “National polls have consistently shown continued support for abortion rights over the years, with more people identifying as pro-choice in comparison to “pro-life.” A strong majority (60%) of Americans have consistently and strongly voiced support of Roe v. Wade and keeping abortion legal over the past decade.
Most people support keeping abortion a choice for women because most people understand the importance of respecting and protecting the lives of women.” This is crucial to understanding why a woman’s choice to abort their baby/babies is completely rational and is OKAY. Even if we do not agree with their choice, it is still a choice that women have a right to make, no matter what. We cannot possibly know the stories behind every abortion. Because of this, it is not our place as a society to sit and deem it “wrong” for a woman to abort her child. Whether we want to believe it or not, these women in question might have health issues, financial struggles, or poor living conditions that would make them unfit to be parents. Because of this, we cannot possibly agree that bringing a child into those kinds of conditions is appropriate or just in any way.
Thomson’s Perspective: The Right to Life and Circumstances Permitting Abortion
According to Thomson, “Suppose a woman becomes pregnant and now learns that she has a cardiac condition such that she will die if she carries the baby to term. What may be done for her?” This really strikes me because Thomson is clearly showing how, in some circumstances, we must put ourselves above everything else and know that we have a right to life as well. In addition to this, women legally have the right to do what they wish with their bodies. The Constitution gives ’ a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy,’’ and that ‘‘This right of privacy is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.’’
This certainly shows that by law, women have the choice to either raise a child or not. Thomson states, “While I am arguing for the permissibility of abortion in some cases, I am not arguing for the right to secure the death of the unborn child.” This certainly confirms that abortion does not always carry with it the goal of killing. Abortions are almost always done with the best intentions at heart. While they may be murderous in the physical sense, they usually result in a better life for the mother and the prevention of a bad life for the child.
Challenging the Roe v. Wade Narrative: When Does Life Truly Begin?
In addition to this, pro-life is personal to me because I have had many family members make the decision to abort their babies. This has always been something that made me feel sick, no matter the circumstance. In my eyes, abortion is murder, and I could never murder my own child. Many will argue that the embryo is a non-living being and does not have rights. Many claim that embryos cannot adequately react. Embryos are not conscious beings and don’t have the ability to react to their environment. While this may be true, the being still has the ability to grow and develop, making it living and deserving of life. In opposition to this, according to the Family Research Council, these embryos are biologically living.
They say, “It is also quite clear that the earliest human embryo is biologically alive. It fulfills the four criteria needed to establish biological life: metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.” This explains why aborting is, in fact, murder. These beings have the ability to grow and develop, and they have a heartbeat. These are all things that we consider characteristically important for a living, relevant person to have. So, why would we deprive a living person of these things if it is not necessary to do so?
Roe v. Wade: The Ethical Dilemma of Fetal Rights and Future Potential
Killing innocent human beings is wrong. Human life begins at conception. Therefore, the fetus is a human being after conception. If a fetus is a human being, a fetus also has a unique genetic code, which makes it a unique individual by default. Killing potential people is wrong. From conception on, the fetus is a potential human being, making it wrong to destroy this potential living being from conception on. Killing beings with “a future like ours,” in most cases, is wrong. It is wrong to cause pain and suffering in a living person. A fetus has been shown to be developed enough to feel pain by 18 weeks. Therefore, it is wrong to carry out an abortion after the fetus is 18 weeks of age. To rob a fetus of a “future like ours” is clearly wrong. But, if this fetus does not have a future like ours, then it is okay to carry out an abortion.
For example, if this fetus, who later becomes a child, grows up in an unstable household with abusive parents and a poor family, then this child will generally not have a “future like ours.” This child will have a problematic life. To prevent this problematic life, abortion can be carried through. This can either be seen as a positive or a negative decision. But, if you truly have your unborn child’s best interest at heart, and you know that they will have a problematic life, abortion can be a positive action that will prevent heartache and negativity down the road.
Marquis’s Critique: The Ethical Implications Beyond Roe v. Wade
According to Marquis, “After all, if we merely believe, but do not understand, why killing adult human beings such as ourselves is wrong, How could we conceivably show that abortion is either immoral or permissible? In order to develop such an account, we can start from the following unproblematic assumption concerning our own case: it is wrong to kill us. Why is it wrong? Some answers can be easily eliminated. It might be said that what makes killing us wrong is that a killing brutalizes the one who kills. But the brutalization consists of being inured to the performance of an act that is hideously immoral; hence, the brutalization does not explain the immorality. It might be said that what makes killing us wrong is the great loss others would experience due to our Absence.
Although such hubris is understandable, such an explanation does not account for the wrongness of killing hermits or those whose lives are relatively independent and whose friends find it easy to make new friends.” In the end, all human beings have a right to life, and Marquis shows this accurately. While aborting our children might benefit us and them in the long run, abortion is still murder and will always deprive a living being of life. Whether or not you consider this to be a negative or a positive thing depends on your circumstances in life and what your child’s circumstances will be in his or her life.
Conclusion: Personal Choice vs. Moral Responsibility in Roe v. Wade
When you think about abortion, it is not just the removal of an object or a simple procedure. Abortion is the taking of a life in all ways possible. While this being cannot yet think, feel, or react to its environment, it is still growing. It will later become its own substance with creative thoughts, feelings, and goals in its life. By striving to remove this being’s life and thinking of it only as something meaningless, we are becoming exactly what murderers are.
Objectification: Seeing and treating other people as objects. Doing this successfully keeps us from feeling guilty about hurting others. When we remove emotions from certain situations, we gain the ability to feel as if we are not at fault. This is how our society can become so good at putting a label on abortion and making it something surgical and meaningless.
Lastly, all of this justifies that we should always remain open to different viewpoints and respect others in what they do with their lives and bodies. No matter what we believe is “wrong” or “right,” the human race will never agree on one thing. Because of this, it is important that we step back and realize that everyone is entitled to believe in what they choose. Surely, we are not alone in this struggle. It’s normal to wish that others were different, just like it’s normal to wish that ourselves were different. Instead, we could and should accept them for who they are. While we might not personally agree with what somebody does with their life and with their body, it is not always our place to step in and say whether it is “wrong” or “right.”
In conclusion, having an abortion is only morally permissible when life calls for it. Many situations in our lives can make raising a child nearly impossible. Obviously, we do not want our children growing up in a time or circumstance that is not ideal. We want our children to be happy, healthy, and successful. If we as women feel that we cannot properly raise a child, it is our decision to be able to terminate the baby and possibly have another when the time is appropriate. Thomson’sThomson’s argument supports this. On the other hand, Marquis’s argument shows the importance and dignity of these living beings that we call embryos. After looking at all possible factors, these living beings should always have a chance at life if and only if their life will be beneficial to them.
- Marquis, D. (1989). Why Abortion is Immoral. Journal of Philosophy.
- Thomson, J.J. (1971). A Defense of Abortion. Philosophy & Public Affairs.
- National Abortion Federation. (2022). Public Opinion on Abortion in America. NAF Press.
- U.S. Supreme Court. (1973). Roe v. Wade, U.S.
- Family Research Council. (2020). Biological Foundations of Life: Embryonic Development and Abortion. FRC Publications.
- Smith, J. (2019). Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice: A Comprehensive Overview. University Press.
- Davis, L. (2021). The Ethical Implications of Roe v. Wade: A Modern Review. New Age Publishers.
- Gonzalez, R. (2020). Women’s Rights and Bodily Autonomy. Feminist Press.