What is Wrong With Abortion? A Philosophical Case
By Prayson Daniel
Is it possible to make a case for the prima facie wrongness of killing a human foetus that does not depend on theological premises? In 1989 atheist philosopher Donald Marquis introduced a philosophical case for immorality of abortion that neither depended on the personhood nor consciousness of the fetus.
Consider these five cases, borrowed from Pedro Galvão (2007):
(A) The typical human fetus;
(A1) The typical preconscious fetus;
(A2) The typical conscious fetus;
(B) The typical human infant;
(C) The temporarily depressed suicidal;
(D) The temporarily comatose adult;
(E) The typical human adult.
Could what makes the killing of (B-E) prima facie so wrong be relevantly similar to the killing of (A)? This post offered a philosophical case for why abortion, killing of (A1) and (A2), is prima facie wrong, as it revisited Robert Young’s thesis (1979) on what makes killing people, in some occasions, so wrong, and Marquis’ articulations of future of value arguments (1989, 2001).
Barack Obama’s lamenting speech addressed to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in Newtown, correctly captured the prima facie wrongness of killing people. Obama understood the gravity of the killer’s unjust prevention of the little kids, and adults’ future of value. He said,
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The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.(Obama 2012: n.p)
It is general prima facie wrong to kill human being, according to David Boonin’s modified future-like-ours, because it “ is in general prima facie wrong to act in ways that frustrate the desires of others, and in general more seriously prima facie wrong to act in ways that frustrate their stronger desires.”(Boonin 2003, 67)
Booni’s view would explain why it is wrong to kill (A2), (B) and (E), but not (C) and (D) because (C) and (D) lack strong desire to enjoy their personal future. Assuming we agree that killing (C) and (D) is prima facie wrong, Boonin’s view is, thus, inadequate to explain why it is generally prima facie so wrong to kill people.
Unlike Boonin, Young provided a richer explanation…
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