University of St Martin - Fall, 2006 - PHIL232

Excursus 4: Pro-choice argument

Midterm Essay
Monday, Sept. 4 - What is philosophy?
Wednesday, Sept. 6 - Aristotle (1)
Monday, Sept. 11 - Aristotle (2)
Wednesday, Sept. 13 - Aristotle (3)
Monday, Sept. 18 - Nietzsche (1)
Wednesday, Sept. 20 - Nietzsche (2)
Monday, Sept. 26 - Abortion (1)
Wednesday, Sept. 28 - Abortion (2)
Excursus 1: Historical overview
Excursus 2: Abortion in Judaism and Christianity
Excursus 3: Abortion in Islam
Excursus 4: Pro-choice argument
Monday, Oct. 2 - Suicide (1)
Wednesday, Oct 4 - Revision
Monday, Oct 16 - Suicide (2)
Wednesday, Oct 18 - Paradigm shifts
Monday, Oct 23 - Brave New World (1)
Wednesday, Oct 25 - Philosophical Anthropology (1)
Monday, Oct 30 - Sexual History of the USA
Wednesday, Nov 1 - Philosophical Anthropology (2)
Monday, Nov 6 - Race, death, tragedy, and bad faith
Wednesday, Nov 8 - Race, Biology, and Culture
Monday, Nov 13 - Racism and culture
Wednesday, Nov 15 - Existentialism
Monday, Nov 20 - Political Obligation, Moral Duty, and Punishment
Wednesday, Nov 22 - Kant and Moral Obligation
Monday, Nov 27 - War and Peace
Wednesday, Nov 29 - Non-Western Philosophies (1)
Monday, Dec 4 - Non-Western Philosophies (2)
Wednesday, Dec 6 - The End
Final Paper

The pro-choice argument

The basic principles of the pro-choice argument in the USA are: 

         As only women can get pregnant, and therefore only women have abortions, a male legislator has no right to vote on an abortion-related law.

         Okay, maybe legislators are a special case because they're supposed to represent other people. But in general, a man does not have a right to take a position on abortion, as it affects only women.

         If abortion is made illegal, some women will still try to obtain abortions illegally, and many are likely to end up at back-alley butchers or attempt to perform abortions on themselves and suffer serious injury.

         Opposition to abortion is based on religious beliefs. A fundamental principle of American democracy is that no one can impose their religious beliefs on others. Therefore, there should not be any laws against abortion.

         People have many different ideas and theories about when human life begins. Laws against abortion are an attempt to impose one particular theory, the theory that life begins at conception. But what about people who believe other ideas? Why should they be forced to forced to abide by this one theory?

         No one can be sure when human life really begins. As long as there is doubt, as long as we cannot be sure that abortion is killing a human being, it is a morally acceptable option.

         The question is not whether abortion is right or wrong, but, Who decides? The individual woman, or the government? If you're opposed to abortion, don't have one, but don't try to impose your morality on others. Abortion is a personal choice between a woman and her doctor.

         No one has a right to oppose abortion unless they are prepared to provide pre-natal care and other forms of support needed by woman with unwanted pregancies, including providing homes for pregnant teens who are thrown out by their parents.

         Pro-lifers are hypocritical: They say they oppose abortion because they believe life is sacred, but then they support capital punishment.

         If abortion is outlawed, more unwanted children will be born, and these children are likely to be abused or neglected. It is better for such children to never be born than to live such a miserable existence.

         Even if abortion is not justified in most situations, it is justified in cases of rape.

         What about girls who are victims of incest? How can you force such a girl to go through the ordeal of carrying such a pregnancy to term?

Source and critique at:

or also

To think about       

"Any society that values creativity also needs to enable criticism. If we cannot question the way we are doing things and thinking about things at present, it will not occur to us that they could be thought of or done differently. (...) So philosophy is important partly because cultural criticism is so important."

CHRISTENSON, Tom (2001). Wonder and Critical Reflection. An invitation to Philosophy, p. 37. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.


This page was updated on Nov 21, 2006
at 10.00 PM St Martin Time (-4 UT)