Abortion Ethics: Child’s vs. Woman’s Rights

Nowadays abortion has turned into one of the most intensively and diversely discussed problems of the theory of ethics. However, the philosophical and scientific sophistication of this discussion does not mean that the problem of the artificial termination of pregnancy becomes clearer. The defenders of the right to abortion and their opponents cannot agree with each other, even in the terminology of the dispute (Vaughn, 2015).

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More to the point, the opponents insist that the question here is the following: does a fetus has the right not to be murdered like other human beings. The concept of viability of the fetus as a justification for the artificial termination of pregnancy is untenable, as stated by the opponents. From their point of view, the fetus has the right to life from the moment of conception. Vaughn (2015) claims that they also emphasize the conditional nature of the concept of “vitality” due to the fact that there is still no clear definition of it.

Speaking of ethics of abortion, it is critical to ask whether a woman can be forced to give birth to the undesirable child at the cost of her own health and life or not. The fetus is to be regarded as an individual having rights since the moment of conception. In this connection, the embryo is to be considered a human being, and since the right to life is the inalienable right of every human being, the fetus also has this right (Kaczor, 2015).

Therefore, abortion is unacceptable from the moral point of view, and it is better to ban it, excluding some cases of medical indicators, for example. This argument is perceived at the level of common sense as self-evident, requiring no special evidence. The well-known Eastern tradition, according to which the age of a person is counted from the moment of conception, but not from the moment of birth seems to be relevant (Kaczor, 2015). Furthermore, there are scientifically established facts that the human embryo has a face, fingers, intracerebral activity, etc., and even genes comprise the basic features of a person’s individuality.

At the same time, such a position evokes plenty of other issues, yet they cannot directly impact the rights of an unborn child and, thus, are to be considered separately. Such a view seems to be a rather sensible and elaborate as it focuses on the rights of the prospective member of society with regard to a woman.


Kaczor, C. R. (2015). The ethics of abortion: Women’s rights, human life, and the question of justice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Vaughn, L. (2015). Doing ethics: Moral reasoning and contemporary issues (4th ed.). New York, NY: Norton & Company.

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