Abortion is the act of terminating a pregnancy by removing the fetus or a developing embryo before it is due to be born. The community views this act as morally wrong and inhuman while, in some cases, it is seen as biologically fit. However, some philosophical and cultural approaches to abortion have been logically debated and evaluated by enumerating and clarifying ethical theories around abortion. Abortion has been perceived differently among various cultures as explained by utilitarianism, kantianism, and virtue ethical theories.
How Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Virtue Theory Relate to Abortion
Utilitarianism Theory on Abortion
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that favors actions that bring joy and disagrees with actions that create suffering. According to the theory, an activity is moral if it promotes happiness, whereas it is bad if oriented towards sadness. However, the goal of the theory is not simply the person’s enjoyment but the satisfaction of those influenced by it. One of utilitarianism’s clear advantages, when it pertains to abortion, is that it puts no definite worth to life, thereby evading ethical issues about where life starts (Nejad, 2018). Utilitarianism is beneficial because it evaluates each circumstance on a separate basis, indicating an abortion would be fully up to the woman and her involvement in her life. Consequently, circumstances such as severe fetal defects, assault, and economic hardships can be regarded as useful practices.
According to utilitarianism, anything that produces a balanced set of positive outcomes is morally justified. Nikooie (2018) states that abortion causes significant impacts, and different theories look at it from different perspectives. These perspectives imply that abortion is dependent on how the unborn fetus deserves to be handled, the embryo’s physical state, and the person’s rights. Furthermore, Rule Utilitarianism believes that an abortion rule should be devised that is evident in all cases because individual well-being should not be the criterion for making decisions.
Kantianism Theory on Abortion
The Kantian theory is a set of global ethical principles for all people, independent of context or circumstance. Based on the ethical theory, the foundation for a stance on pregnancy and abortion is the primary moral necessity of identity as a rational human. The theory stresses women’s choices and moral integrity while minimizing the value of their outward appearance. Arosemena (2017) pointed out that the unborn child’s right to life and the right to make autonomous decisions in morality is discussed from a Kantian perspective. As a result, the theory promotes regard for others and respect for oneself. A woman should not take an action like abortion without offering enough justification; instead, she should act virtuously so that she values herself and not be influenced by any other desires.
Duties owed to oneself as a decent human being only prevent one from acting on principles incompatible with one’s innermost freedom and dignity. This means that a woman having an abortion must decide without jeopardizing her dignity and respect for herself. Although a fetus is not considered a person, it is believed to represent a prospective life that is also a future rational entity (Arosemena, 2017). The theory has highlighted the significance of treating persons as ends than just a means to an end, and the situation in which the mother’s life is at risk is a deviation. Abortion depicts human life as an essential item that may be removed at the whim of a person who views humanity as a way to an irrational end.
Virtue Theory on Abortion
The core concern of virtue principles is an individual’s genuineness and integrity. Based on the definition, an ethical and virtuous individual practices positive actions such as truthfulness and generosity. It supports the resolution of morality uncertainty without using particular guidelines. Abortions, according to ethical theories, are incompatible with one’s virtues and, as a result, impede one’s ability to live a successful and happy lifestyle (Van, 2018). Abortion negatively impacts the value of family bonds and fertility and mortality rates. The notion proposes that ethics and morals govern all judgments, regardless of whether they are legal. According to virtue theory, abortion is a logical argument arguing that killing an innocent human being is wrong and that a human fetus is also innocent.
According to virtue ethics, abortion is connected to quality of service in healthcare institutions. As it is dependent on medical technology, viability is a bit unclear. If medical technology improves, a younger fetus can live, becoming a child. According to Van (2018), access to these health facilities would change the instant the fetus became an individual. In a modernized city with cutting-edge medical advancements, it would be morally unacceptable for a woman to terminate a pregnancy. On the other hand, it would be ethically justifiable to abort if the lady lived in an underdeveloped country lacking accessibility to efficient medical technologies.
How abortion is addressed differently in varying cultural contexts and situations
The cultural context refers to the state in which people are brought up and how that culture affects their behavior. It considers taught values and views shared by groups of people, including religion and social status. These cultures perceive abortion differently and raise arguments on the issue of abortion. Abortion evokes a range of feelings depending on one’s personal and societal opinions. Women who seek or consider abortion services are frequently subjected to shame and social marginalization in their communities.
Religions have taken significant opinions on abortion since they feel it touches on fundamental questions of life and death and good and evil. It is a major religious problem since it includes human connections and changes in society. Abortion is considered a crime and a sin against God by Christians. Individuals who participate in abortions are typically greatly affected emotionally and spiritually (VanDrunen, 2021). They often turn to their faith for counseling and comfort and a way of coping with their regret. Most people believe that a solely intellectual argument regarding abortion is ultimately unfulfilling as it affects the heart and the mind since it involves life and death. For them, it is not only a matter of a person’s conscience; it is also a matter of a human being’s relationship with God.
Abortion is considered evil and forbidden in Islam, but many Muslims think it may be authorized on specific grounds. All schools of Muslim law admit that abortion is allowed if proceeding with the pregnancy might put the mother’s life at risk. Several systems of Muslim law allow abortion up to 16 weeks of pregnancy, whereas others accept it only up to 7 weeks. Even scholars who support early abortion in some situations believe that abortion is wrong but not punishable. The more developed the pregnancy, the more likely something will go wrong. According to Ekmekci (2017), the Qur’an indicates that a fetus should not be terminated based on a family’s financial incapability. They should instead trust Allah to take care of everything.
Social status refers to the pride or prestige associated with one’s rank or position within a group. Financial stability is frequently used to determine social class, with people being classified as rich or poor. Low-income women are much more than five times as likely as wealthier women to have unintended pregnancies. An unexpected pregnancy is linked to higher poverty rates, less family stability, and poorer child outcomes, which substantially affects social mobility (Beckman, 2017). Women with higher earnings are far more successful at preventing unintended pregnancy. This is almost certainly due to their better financial and labor supply prospects: they stand to lose more if an unintended birth occurs.
Therefore, boosting the education and employment opportunities of impoverished women is a critical component of any strategy aimed at lowering unintended birth rates. It is also essential to have access to affordable abortion, which is typically limited to many poor women. Of course, people have strong feelings about abortion. Still, it should be difficult for anyone to accept such disparities in income level, mainly when they are likely to last for two or more generations. The decision to abort a child is a difficult one and is not one that should be impacted by one’s financial situation.
Abortion poses several dangers to the woman, including her own life and the life of the fetus in subsequent pregnancies. Social, emotional, and physiological dangers are all present in abortion. However, based on ethical theories and cultural aspects, abortion is not positively accepted unless in terms of health risk. In addition, women should practice careful planning of pregnancies and the use of contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancies.
Arosemena, G. (2017). On the wrongfulness of abortion. Ius Humani. Law Journal, 6, 155-172.
Beckman, L. (2017). Abortion in the United States: The continuing controversy. Feminism &Amp; Psychology, 27(1), 101-113.
Ekmekci, P. (2016). Abortion in Islamic ethics, and how it is perceived in Turkey: A secular, Muslim country. Journal of Religion and Health, 56(3), 884-895.
Nikooie Nejad, L. (2018). The Ethical study of abortion from Peter Singers view. Iranian Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, 11(1), 417-427.
VanDrunen, D. (2021). Abortion in the Reformed Christian Tradition. In Bagheri, A. (Ed) Abortion. Springer.
Van Zyl, L. (2018). Virtue ethics: A contemporary introduction. Routledge.