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Abortion Archive

Personhood: What Constitutes Personhood?

Several ethicists, such as Michael Tooley,17 Mary Anne Warren,18 James Rachels,19 and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott,20 have put forth criteria that a being must fulfill in order to be considered fully human. For some these criteria apply to any entity, whether before or after birth. In fact, according to Tooley, birth has no bearing on the […]

Attainment of Sentience: Is Sentience a Dividing Line for Life?

Some ethicists argue that the unborn becomes fully human sometime after brain development has begun, when it becomes sentient: capable of experiencing sensations such as pain. The reason for choosing sentience as the criterion is that a being that cannot experience anything (i.e., a presentient unborn entity) cannot be harmed. Of course, if this position […]

Viability: Is a Fetus a Person Once it Can Live Outside the Mother’s Womb?

As I noted in Part Three, viability is the time at which the unborn human can live outside her mother’s womb. Some have argued that prior to this time, since the unborn cannot survive independent of her mother, she is not a completely independent human life and hence not fully human. Bioethicist Andrew Varga points […]

Infant Brain Development: Beginning of Brain Development

Some bioethicists, such as Baruch Brody, believe that full humanness begins when the brain starts functioning, which can first be detected by the electroencephalogram (EEG) at about 40 to 43 days after conception.1 (Although Brody has moral problems with abortion on demand prior to brain functioning, this is not because he believes the unborn is […]

The Right to Life: When Does Life Begin?

Throughout the history of the abortion controversy, many have put forth criteria by which to judge whether a human organism has reached the point in its development at which it is fully human. Some criteria are based on so-called “decisive” moments in fetal development. Others are based on certain conditions any entity — born or […]

Prenatal Development: Conception through Five Months

Realizing that many popular arguments for abortion rights — such as some of the ones found in the first two installments in this series — have little logical merit, many philosophers, ethicists, and theologians have presented more sophisticated arguments for abortion rights. These radical and moderate pro-choice thinkers agree with pro-life advocates that the abortion […]

Ad Hominem Attacks: The Ad Hominem Argument for Abortion

“Ad hominem” literally means to “attack the man” (or person). Therefore, “to attack ad hominem is to attack the man who presents an argument rather than the argument itself.”25 Instead of dealing with what a person is actually saying, one attacks the person. This is a bad form of reasoning because it ultimately does not […]

The Abortion Debate: Arguments from Tolerance

Many people in the abortion rights movement argue that their position is more tolerant than the pro-life position. After all, they reason, the abortion rights movement is not forcing pro-life women to have abortions, but the pro-life movement is trying to deny all women the option to make a choice. There are basically five arguments […]

Unwanted Children: Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights

It is argued by many people in the pro-choice movement that legal abortion helps eliminate unwanted children. They believe that unwanted children are indirectly responsible for a great number of family problems, such as child abuse. Hence, if a family can have the “correct” amount of children at the “proper” times, then these family problems […]

Abortion and Rape: Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights

In the first installment of this four-part series we examined a number of arguments for abortion rights which can be classified as appeals to pity. In this article I will present and critique more appeals to pity, along with two additional kinds of argument: appeals to tolerance and ad hominem (literally, “against the person”). Of […]