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In our society, there are many ethical dilemmas that we are faced with that are virtually impossible to solve. One of the most difficult and controversial issues that we are faced with is abortion. There are many strong arguments both for and against the right to have an abortion which are so complicated that it becomes impossible to resolve. The complexity of this issue lies in the different aspects of the argument. The essence of a person, rights, and who is entitled to these rights, are a few of the many aspects which are very difficult to define. There are also issues of what circumstances would justify abortion. Because the issue of abortion is virtually impossible to solve, all one can hope to do is understand the different aspects of the argument so that if he or she is faced with that issue in their own lives, they would be able to make educated and thoughtful decisions in dealing with it. The definition of a person is an aspect of the abortion issue which raises some very difficult questions. Is an unborn baby a person? When does the unborn baby become a person? This is a difficult question because in order for one to answer it, he must define the essence of a person. When describing the essence of something, one needs to describe the necessary and sufficient conditions of that thing. So how does one define the essence of a person? Kant describes a person as a rational being. Some people define the essence of a person from more of a biological standpoint. Nevertheless, defining the essence of a person is a very difficult thing for a group of people to agree on. One’s own definition of a person would most likely greatly impact his opinion on whether abortion is morally justified or not. This becomes even more complicated when one takes into account potentiality. This raises the question of whether the fetus is an actual person or a potential person. Many would argue that a fetus is a potential person because it is has the potential to become what it is not yet. However, does a potential person have potential rights? An example was used: does a potential doctor have the rights of a licensed doctor? When one is describing potentiality, All he is really describing is what that thing is not. By declaring that a fetus is a potential person, one is also stating that a fetus is not a person. As one can see, this issue of the essence of a person and whether a fetus is a person is a very complicated one. This becomes seven more complicated if one takes into account the issue of rights. Now, the concept of human rights, that is to say, what American society dictates as human rights, conflicts heavily with itself. On one hand, we form a deep and heavy opinion on one’s right to life. On the other, we hold an equally strong opinion on one’s freedom to live that life as they please. American society by and large has a firm belief in an individuals right to live. Therefore, if one comes to the conclusion that a fetus actually is a person, then that fetus should receive the protection to it’s right to live, as much as you or I. This society also holds the firm belief in one’s right to the sovereignty of his or her own
body, equal to that of one’s right to live. In this case, it is imperative that we understand what liberties we can and cannot take upon ourselves concerning our lives. Case in point, suicide. Society dictates what we are allowed to do, and how we are allowed to live, by law. Most of American laws are written to preserve one’s rights to individuality, and one’s right to take the liberty to live their lives as they see fit. However, laws are also written to undermine those who’s actions compromise the liberties and freedoms of other individuals, thus protecting the concepts and ideals of agency and liberty. Based on our society’s laws, essentially, we believe that what you do to yourself is your choice, and is accepted by law, so long as it doesn’t stop or impede the lives and freedoms of others. The difficulty in this dilemma lies within the question of whether an abortion falls into a category of protection of a woman’s right’s over the sovereignty of her own body, or whether it falls into a different category of an action which is not permissible because, according to some people, the fetus is a person whose life and freedom is being compromised. The question of rights is further complicated by the different circumstances where the abortion issue could be raised. Many people would argue that abortion should not be used as birth control or as a means to deal with the consequences of promiscuous sex. However, how does one address the abortion issue in the circumstance of rape or incest? Many say that in these circumstances, abortion is justified. The confusing thing is that the outcome is the same in both circumstances. The fetus is being denied its right to live and grow to its potential as a human being. Where does one draw the line? What about a case where there is medical complications? For example: a woman becomes pregnant and goes to the doctor for an examination. During the doctor visit, various tests are run and it is discovered that the baby will be born severely deformed and that its quality of life would be extremely substandard. If the woman were to have an abortion, would it be justified? What about a situation where a woman becomes pregnant and she does to the doctor and is told that the baby is deformed and the birth would most likely kill the mother. The argument justifying abortion in this case goes back to the right to physical sovereignty over one’s own body. A person has the freedom to do what he or she wants to concerning their own body as long as it does not harm or compromise the freedom of another, except in self defense. Therefore, in the case of the mother who would most likely die in childbirth, an abortion could be justified because she is acting in self defense. And in the case of rape, many argue that an abortion is also justified because the woman’s right to not conceive has been violated, therefore she should not be responsible for the consequences which came through no fault of her own. As on can see, the issue of abortion is on e that is extremely complicated. The problem being that many of the ethical dilemmas involved in the abortion issue are so closely intertwined that they are difficult to distinguish from one another. There are some aspects of the issue that would convince most people that abortion is justified, however when those aspects are combined with other intertwining aspects and imperatives, justification oftentimes becomes impossible. In conclusion, the issue of abortion is so complicated and controversial that it is unlikely that a consensus could be reached by American
society. There are too many aspects of the issue which peoples views vary to widely. Some of these issues could be things such as the definition of a person, is the fetus a person, and if so when does it officially become a person. There is also the issue of rights. Do the rights of a person outweigh the rights of a non person. Does the right of a mother’s sovereignty over her body outweigh the right of an unborn child to live. The answers to these questions are very diverse as a result of the diversity of the American society. With the issue of abortion, one’s attitude toward it is going to be based on many things such as religious background and personal morals. There is no black and white answer to the abortion issue. Luckily we live in a country where we are able to decide for ourselves whether something is morally right or wrong. Thus, ultimately, the choice is ours. As with the many other ethical issues which we are faced with in our society, it is hard to come to a concrete answer until we are personally faced with that issue. All we can do is make an effort to know all of the aspects which are involved so that we may be able to make a sound decision if we were faced with this problem in our own lives.
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