Abortion is the wilful termination of pregnancy. This issue is crowded with controversy, especially because of the moral and ethical concerns that are involved. This paper seeks to explore the ethical dilemma of abortion and how the decision to consider abortion ethical or unethical was arrived at in my country. The paper will also explore this dilemma in line with various ethical systems. Thus, the philosophical frameworks of utilitarianism, Kantian moral philosophy, Gandhism, and Buddhism in relation to abortion will be assessed.
The decision on whether abortion is ethical or not often entails various moral struggles, meditations, and reasoning. While there are those who maintained a feminist perspective that is embedded in the pro-choice school of thought, there is another paradigm that was guided by the moral persuasions and arguments of the pro-life school. The origin of this struggle is the difference in the opined beginning of life. There are those who maintained that life begins at conception, and, thus, the ethical principles of life must be considered not after birth but upon conception. The precedential logic that guided the discourse on the ethicality of abortion was, thus, steered by the consensus that murder is unethical. Inductively, it follows that abortion is unethical, especially because it involves killing of a foetus, since life begins at conception.
Following successful consensus building process that is guided by reasoning that life begins at conception, the pro-choice school of thought that was mainly championed by the feminists ceded ground paving the way for the strengthening of the pro-life philosophies that maintained that abortion is unethical, since the decision entails termination of the life of an innocent foetus. The decision was also upheld after consideration of the moral implications of setting precedence that abortion is ethical. To the pro-life champions, this precedence is equivalent to approval of murder, which has been classified as unethical and cannot be justified under any circumstance in most societies.
Utilitarianism and Abortion Decision
The utilitarian perspective regarding abortion decision is guided by consideration of the factors that push women to procure an abortion. Among these, there is the need to consider the educational and economic aspirations of the woman that is at stake should abortion be declined. This perspective also explores other factors such as the ability of the parents to meet the needs of the new-born child, considering the financial conditions of the parents at the time of conception. It is, thus, a decision that encompasses careful assessment of satisfaction and sense of fulfilment that comes with the birth of a new baby. The lack of such utility would, thus, justify any decision to procure an abortion.
Utilitarianism is founded on the need to act in such a way that the greatest balance of good over evil is achieved. Thus, bringing a new baby home only brings full satisfaction and fulfilment if such an act pushes the mother further to a new level of satisfaction, happiness, and sense of entitlement and actualization. On the contrary, if the birth of a child would usher in a new dawn of crises, abortion becomes unethical. For example, it is only ethical that a mother be ready and available to nurture her baby from conception, birth, and stage of self-autonomy. This is only achievable with sacrifices on career, education, and other commitments that demand the attention of the same mother.
Kantian Moral Philosophy and Abortion Decision
Kantian philosophy is deontological in nature and founded on assertions that one should do things, because they are right for them. It is, thus, one’s moral and ethical responsibility to engage in moral judgments and arrive at a decision that is perceived by the individual as right. In Kantian philosophy, the decision should be undertaken not because of the happiness that is derived from its outcome but because of the proximity of the decision to what is universally perceived as right and one’s personal conviction about what is right at a given time factoring in all the prevailing g conditions. The decision to do what is right, thus, attracts happiness, which is the most critical in Kantianism.
When related to abortion decision, Kantian philosophy gives the woman the liberty to do what is right given the prevailing conditions at one particular time. For example, when a woman has been raped and become pregnant, she may not want to abort because of the financial issues that are involved in the process. However, she would want to abort because for her it is the right thing to do at that moment. This is the foundation of Kantian principle of moral ethics that is the individual judgement of what is right and wrong. The society mandates women to evaluate the available options and act in a way that is morally justified within the existing conditions. The decision to undergo an abortion or to avoid it altogether is, thus, left on the woman. This matches the pro-choice perspective of the moral dilemma in abortion. The women can only be judged to have acted unethically if there were other better options than the decision to abort. Thus, according to Kantian philosophy, abortion is ethical or unethical depending on whether the woman made the right decision when she resorted to abortion rather than carrying the baby full term.
Gandhian Philosophy and Abortion Decision
Gandhism is founded on Hindu traditions and religious beliefs and values. These are the values and beliefs to which Mahatma Gandhi subscribed and upheld and implored every member of his society to embrace as the principle standards of judgment of what is to be designated as ethical or otherwise. The principles behind Gandhism are embedded on the subjective discourse that is guided by religious beliefs and values to which he subscribed. Thus, according to Gandhi, the decision to abort or not is a question of a woman’s values and religious beliefs. In Hindu religion, those who abort are, thus, considered to be immoral, since such an act is an expression of defiance to the moral and ethical standards that were set for every member in this sub-culture.
There is no sustainable argument on the decision of abortion according to Gandhism. Virtue is, thus, measured by the ability of an individual to overcome the urge to apply self-will and liberty to procure an abortion, since such a move is tantamount to sin and attract judgement. In the view of Gandhi, abortion is unethical and cannot be negotiated through rehearsed or reversed discourse. Such discourse only measures up to efforts that are meant to promote a society where the unethical, vicious, and deviant feminists hail. Here, the issue of rights do not have space in the liberty of judgement of what matters given the prevailing conditions. From the onset and not subject to the outcome of an abortion, it is considered as a vice and a breach of moral ethics according to Gandhi.
Buddhism and Abortion Decision
Buddhism is founded on doctrinal teachings about rebirth and the beginning of life at conception. The original teaching of Buddhism disallows abortion on grounds that this act constitutes murder of an innocent child who has a right to life just like the person terminating its life. Moral ethics of Buddhism, thus, dictates that life should not be destroyed, since such an act is largely deliberate result of acts of negligence. Such negligence and deliberate efforts should not victimize an innocent child but allow such a child to live to realize its full potential and accomplish its goals in life. The fears that a mother seeks to evade through abortion may eventually victimize the child unfairly. The consequences that come as a result of abortion are personal just like abortion in itself is a personal and individual choice. The decision to abort is, thus, designated as a highly personal, emotive, and consequential move that requires significant consideration of consequences that follow. The leeway for abortion is to be found in the ancient Buddhism, where abortion could only be justified after determination that failure to procure abortion would expose the baby to more handicapping conditions.
Why Utilitarianism is the Best Philosophical Perspective in Abortion Decisions
Utilitarianism provides the best alternative to abortion related ethical dilemmas. This approach is founded on the evaluations of the value that a decision that is made might have to the decision-maker. If the decision to procure an abortion is likely to bring a sense of self-fulfilment, happiness, and joy not only to the woman but also the man, entire family, and society, then there is no moral disqualification for it.
Ethics requires that one should find happiness in whatever decision is made. However, such happiness and sense of satisfaction cannot be the focus at the expense of the happiness, joy, and fulfilment of others. Thus, utilitarianism provides a more universal and all-encompassing paradigm in terms of catering for the happiness of all with regard to abortion decisions. According to utilitarianism, the sense of satisfaction that comes with abortion decision must be universal, and this, in essence, is the determinant of whether abortion decision is morally ethical or unethical.