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Abortion main question

when does life begin?

Every since what supreme court decision did women get the right to have an abortion

Roe vs Wade

Statistics on abortion

1.3 million abortion per year. 93% of all abortions are for social reasons. 1% for rape. 6% for health reasons.

3 positions that can be taken on the issue:

conservative, liberal, and moderate

Define conservative:

It is never morally justifiable for a women to have an abortion, with possible exceptions in cases of rape, or in order to save the mother's life.

Abortions done for social reasons according to conservatives is considered:


For conservatives life begins when:

at the moment of conception and fetuses have full moral rights, just as any other human being.

Liberal view:

Women can choose to have an abortion at any stage during pregnancy, for any reason.

according to the liberal view the main focus is

the women's right over their own bodies, regardless of the point at which life actually begins.

according to the liberal view the mother's rights outweigh

the fetus' rights.

Moderate view:

there is a cutoff point during pregnancy at which life begins, and abortions may be justifiably performed prior to, but not passed that point.

the cutoff point is

there is no single answer, but somewhere between the moment of conception and birth. viability or quickening... such as detectable brain activity, heartbeat, or any other point in between the moment of conception and birth.

Proponents of moderate position on abortion

the crucial point during pregnancy that changes the status of the fetus is the point of viability.


at this point the fetus becomes capable of surfing outside of the womb, that is independently of the mother. end of the second trimester (24 weeks)

other proponents of the moderate position on abortion take the point of quickening

occurs around the end of the first trimester (13 weeks) and at this point the mother begins to feel the movements.

a non arbitrary view at which life begins is an example by

John Noonan,uses an argument based solely on probabilities to establish that the moment of conception must be the cut off point

according to the best bet argument :

life either begins at the moment of conception or it does not

according to the best bet argument

since the latter possibility is far worse, we should make a safer bet and suppose that life begins at the moment of conception

planned parenthood vs casey

ruled that the states could interfere with the second trimester, they could ban the third trimester abortions, other than for health reasons. the court replaced the trimester approach with the concept of viability.

Who defined the concept of a person to show that a fetus is not a person

Mary Anne Warren

who said fetuses only possess potential for life

John Noonan

Who believes that a women's right to her own body outweighs the fetus's rights

Judith Thomson

who has a relatively non-standard position

Rosalind Hursthouse

according to hursthouse

women have the right to abortion, and no law should take that away. from a legal standpoint she is liberal. she says how no woman is morally justified to have an abortion so she is morally conservative.

who is paul hill

former presbyterian minister. is pro choice. he shot abortion doctor and was executed for it.

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