The ethics of abortion is very complex and controversial as no single opinion whether it is moral to permit abortions exists. Abortion controversy has continued unabated maybe because the Supreme Court imposed the nation with the idea of abortion on demand. Therefore, Don Marquis, in his paper “Why abortion is Immoral?” provides his own arguments why abortion is the same as killing an adult or human being. The author is trying to provide alternative approach to the controversial debate.
Marquis’ ideas are centered on whether to consider fetus a person. He claims that if fetus is considered a person, the he has all rights for life, but if he is not considered a person, then abortion should morally right. Marquis doesn’t try to discern the personhood of a fetus. He also tries to provide clear reasons whether it should be permissible to kill fetus. The most difficult, he says, is the question of morality: “Morally permissible abortions will be rare indeed unless, perhaps, they occur so early in pregnancy that a fetus is not yet definitely an individual”. (p.189) Marquis defends position that abortions are immoral as they brutalize the one who is willing to kill and is going to deprive from individual’s presence. The consequences of killing are that a person “deprives them of all the experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments that would otherwise have constituted one’s future”. (p.191) Therefore, abortion is immoral as killing “inflicts one of the greatest possible losses on the victim”. (p.193) It means that future child is deprived from activities, experiences and enjoyments in his life – there are things he doesn’t enjoy now, but may does enjoy in future, but he is deprived of such chance.
Summing up, Marquis’ central argument is that abortion deprives others from their future. He sums up: “When I am killed, I am deprived both of what I now value, which would have been part of my future personal life, but also what I would come to value”. (p.195) It is necessary to agree that every child, either born or unborn, has the right to live.
Marquis, Don. Why Abortion is Immoral? The Journal of Philosophy, 86, 4 (1989): 183-202.