In the midst of many different positions on abortion encompassing the world today Don Marquis in his paper “Why Abortion Is Immoral,” hits sound reasons why he believes that abortion is morally wrong. He starts with an assumption that he believes that everyone will in fact agree with, stating that it is morally wrong to kill us. Marquis explains that the reason that murder is wrong is not because of the effect that will be placed on the family and friends of the person that is killed, but because the person will be deprived of a viable future. They are then deprived of the experiences that life has to offer, activities, and the enjoyments that life could have brought them. Under the same circumstances, it would be morally wrong to kill a child because they are identically capable of having a fulfilling future, and killing them would deprive them of any such activities. Murder is also said to be wrong if the person is biologically human.
However, Marquis does not disagree with active euthanasia because any person who will be subjected to a life of unbearable pain will not be losing anything if in fact they are killed. So if killing them would help them to avoid further suffering and pain, and they have nothing to live for in life, then euthanasia should be acceptable. When this all comes together towards the end of the second section of Marquis’s paper he explains that if a fetus were to be killed, then that fetus would be deprived of a valuable future. “The future of a standard fetus includes a set of experiences, projects, activities, and such which are identical with the futures of adult human beings and are identical with the futures of young children (Marquis, 192).”
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In clear words, he explains that the fetus has a right to life and a right to the possibilities of its future, therefore abortion, the massacre of this fetus, would be morally wrong. Marquis does not only say that because it would be wrong to kill us it would be wrong to kill the fetus, in fact, but he also infers that it is based on the fact that any human with a viable future like ours deserves the chance at that future. Marquis believes that to conclude that abortion is prima facie seriously morally wrong independently of the idea that a person or a potential person or any equivalent for argument’s sake. To argue he also states that fetuses could be called “persons” and therefore they should be granted their right to life. Clearly, every human being that has hopes for their future and the futures of their offspring should argue that no fetus should be denied what they are morally granted, they are morally offered a life full of opportunities, events, happiness, and discoveries.
Without demanding that abortion shouldn’t continue and that it is wrong, ignorantly a doctor could abort a fetus that was meant to be a future President of the United States, or the one individual that would head the findings of a cure for cancer. As you live your life day to day you realize anything is possible, you don’t wake up in the morning knowledgeable of every experience and relationship that you will come into contact with within that day. So with ignorance not being an acceptable excuse, human beings shouldn’t continue to believe that they have the right to chose which fetus shall grow to full term and have a future and which fetus should be injected with a saline solution and burnt beyond recognition and dismissed as never entering the world.
Prior to the conclusion of Marquis’s essay, he takes an in-depth look at a possible reductio ad absurdum objection to his ideas. With a reductio ad absurdum being a specific kind of objection to make to someone’s position or what someone says, he tries to reduce the idea to an absurd position with absurd consequences. The reductio ad absurdum that Marquis draws on is the idea that because abortion is morally wrong since it deprives the fetus of a valuable future, why wouldn’t contraceptives be morally wrong, because they are also denying a valuable future? Marquis lists four possible victims of contraceptives being used, some sperm, some ovum, a sperm and an ovum separate from one another, and sperm and an ovum together.
To assign that the sperm is being denied alone, without considering the ovum equally would be arbitrary, and vice versa. Then one may try to fight that the sperm and the ovum both separate from one another are being deprived, but this creates a problem because contraception is supposed to deprive us of one future, not two, therefore the math does not add up. Lastly, if contraceptives were considered as depriving the sperm and the ovum together of a future, but Marquis denies this because upon fertilization there is a possibility of millions of sperm and one single ovum and it is impossible for all parts, including the sperm and ovum, to have healthy combinations.
Clearly, there is no subject of harm to either the sperm or the ovum. Therefore when considering if contraceptives are immortal you must consider that it cannot be justified that anything is being denied of a valuable future like ours. There is “no arbitrarily identifiable subject of the loss in the case of contraceptives, (Marquis, 202). A possible problem with this could be that someone could turn around and ask what about the cases where the egg is fertilized by a sperm and has not attached itself to the wall of the vagina long enough to withstand the woman taking an excessive amount of birth control pills, in order to lose whatever offspring had begun to grow. Considering that the birth control pill is a contraceptive widely used, Marquis’s arguments against the reduction don’t span far enough to discount the misuse of contraceptives.
On behalf of Marquis, I believe that he would scorn an action of this sort because if in fact there was a fertilized egg then it doesn’t fit into any of the four categories that he discounted in accepting that contraceptives were acceptable. He would then be likely to repeat his belief that if the child was aborted by any means, even the excessive use of contraceptives, that it still would be abortion, and still be morally wrong.
From the way that I see things, taking the things I have seen in life into account, I must criticize Marquis on his view of abortion by reminding him that he doesn’t take into account the children that women know will not have a viable future. With the way the area of genetics has grown and continues to grow, there are now tests that can be done to see whether or not a child has a terminal disease while in-vetro. Then along with the same views, I see there is a moral objection to people who use contraceptives because they had genetic testing done with their mates to see the possibility of terminal diseases occurring in their offspring. This kind of testing is done every day, so how could contraceptives not be immoral if the reasoning for their use isn’t understood? All of these ideas could be held against Marquis’s response to the reduction of contraceptives.
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