I am mostly in favor of argument A because, with our current scientific knowledge of fetal development, there is no reason to believe that a fetus is capable of independent thought, aka sentience, and therefore represents the ingredients of life rather than a living person. This makes abortion to less moral than wearing a condom, or abstaining from sex altogether. There are arguments worth considering to limit abortion to earlier in the pregnancy, but I am ultimately against this because it is making a law in case of the unknown, that is the development of sentience inside the womb. Without any indication that fetuses are capable of independent thought, restricting abortion is causing a definite harm to the mother’s (and sometimes the child’s) life, with no benefit to anyone involved.
The destruction of a fetus is not murder if the fetus is not capable of independent thought, aka sentience. The problem is that we know very little about sentience and when a person truly becomes a person. Arguments have been made that abortion becomes immoral when a fetus can feel pain, when it has brain activity, the moment it is conceived, or even earlier (such as in the use of birth control). As human beings still studying the world around us, we do not know at exactly what point a cluster of cells becomes a person. It may be at a key point in the fetus’s growth, or it may even be several months after birth.
If a person believes that every human life has a soul and that every life is sacred, then that is grounds for outlawing abortion. However, this is not a universal belief and there are moral principles for a separation of church and state. If the soul does not exist, then the morality of abortion rests on when a cluster of cells becomes a person. Unless there are convincing signs of sentience in fetuses, then there is no moral reason to legally restrict abortion.
- Harding, Richard, and Bocking, Alan. (2001). Fetal Growth and Development. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.
- Wertheimer, Roger. Understanding the Abortion Argument. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1(1), pp. 67-95.