Abortion Essay Research Paper This essay is

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Abortion Essay, Research Paper This essay is an analysis of abortion in utilitarian terms. Compared to some writings on abortion, it is very short. And it is short for good reason: utilitarianism really has very little to say on this issue. Intuitionists will predictably take this as “proof” of the “inadequacy” of utilitarianism. The utilitarian, however, after noticing the various muddles produced by the intuitionist – the arguments over whether the fetus is a “person”, whether one person has the “right” to the use of another’s body and/or whether someone has the “right” to determine what occurs in their own body (and in the case of both, the interminable debates as to what is to be done about the dilemma), and whether having sex in the first instance

amounts to an “invitation” and the effects of this – might take this issue to be a good example of the inadequacy of intuitionism. [It may also be noticed that utilitarianism avoids altogether a problem which has plagued many attempts to justify abortion from a more conventional moral framework. The problem is this: "if it is sometimes permissible to kill a fetus, where is the dividing-line between this and killing a normal baby (or adult)?" The problem emerges because abortion is held to be sometimes "permissible", but killing a normal baby (or adult) not, and it is quite hard to point to a hard and fast (morally-relevant) distinction: (e.g.) at what stage does consciousness develop? Utility avoids the problem because it does not share the assumptions -

it does not say that it is never right to kill a normal baby (or adult), in fact the considerations in each case would be quite similar (with the exception of alarm in the case of adults).] Utilitarianism, of the hedonistic variety, is (we may recall) concerned only with pleasure and with pain. Therefore we shall be concerned with the amounts of pleasure and pain in situations where abortion is permitted as contrasted with the amounts of pleasure and pain where abortion is forbidden. It might be suggested that the main consideration would be the interests of the fetus: not only can its future life be expectedly happy (or at least having a balance of happiness over suffering) it might also be the case that the abortion itself is painful, particularly if it occurs later in the

pregnancy. However this focus on the fetus is unwarranted: any suffering involved in the abortion itself can be avoided by simply aborting the pregnancy sooner (before the fetus has even developed the capability of suffering), or with painless techniques. The direct suffering of the fetus can therefore be no argument against abortion generally, only the bad practice of it. A more significant consideration exists if we posit that the future life of the fetus involves a probable balance of happiness over suffering for the fetus. This would seem to be a definite point against abortion, though not, we shall see, a dominant one. The second party we might consider are the parents and other family, and guardians if the alternative to abortion is adoption. According to some studies,

having a baby appears to decrease the happiness in a relationship – even in those cases where the pregnancy is desired [see Eysenck on happiness]. But again, this need not be considered too much, it is not a dominant consideration. As is the case with many issues in a utilitarian system, the rightness or wrongness of the act in question turns mainly not on the effects of the act on the agent, nor on the being(s) directly affected by the act, but on the less direct effects on the community at large. The issue of abortion, stripped of the language of “rights” and emotional sway over “murdering babies”, actually becomes one of the desirability of increasing or decreasing the population. Given that there must be some population size which is felicifically-optimal, it is