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Why Abortion is Immoral

pro choice

: class of things (persons, rational agents, social beings) it is morally impermissible to kill is too small
-Excludes infants, young children, mentally enfeebled, severely mentally ill

anti abortion

class of things (those with human genetic code) it is morally impermissible to kill is too large
-Includes things such as human cancer cells which are both human and alive

why killing is wrong

What makes killing wrong is the loss of one's life. Killing deprives the victim of more than perhaps any other crime.

Future-like-ours (FLO) argument

1. Depriving a being of a future-like-ours is morally wrong.

FLO Defense of 1

1a. The loss of one's life deprives one of all the experiences, activities, projects and enjoyments that would otherwise have constituted one's future.
1ai. These are either intrinsically valuable or instrumentally valuable.

FLO Defense of 2

2a. Killing a being with a future-like-ours deprives it of that life.

Defense/ Support

• The explanation fits with our intuitions
• There is no other natural property that provides the basis for a better explanation of the wrongness of killing


Does not have a problems of the "potential person" argument


Does not give a detailed account of exactly "what a future-like-ours" is

person hood

having rational thought, relationships, feel pain and suffering, has capcacity to remember

moral standing

we have a moral obligation to treat people a certain way because they have intrinsic value

why killing is wrong

We believe that the loss of a future that one would otherwise experience makes premature death a bad thing

why killing is wrong

*Does not entail that this is the only reason killing is wrong. Marquis is only claiming that in any case where the victim did have a future-like-ours, having that future is enough in-and-of itself to create the presumption that killing is wrong

Future-like-ours (FLO) argument

Killing a normal fetus (abortion) deprives it of a future-like-ours.

Future-like-ours (FLO) argument

Therefore, killing a normal fetus (abortion) is morally wrong

FLO Defense of 1

1b. Such deprivation is the greatest loss one can suffer (because an individual is deprived of what she now values, which would have been part of her future life, and also what she would have come to value).

FLO Defense of 1

1c. Therefore, depriving a being of a future-like-ours is morally wrong

FLO Defense of 2

2b. A normal fetus has a future-like-ours.

FLO Defense of 2

2c. Killing a normal fetus (abortion) deprives it of a future-like-ours.

Defense/ support

It does not depend on categorizing things as persons ("personhood" is a problem for both pro-choice and anti-abortionists)

Defense/ support

• Shows only that abortion is only prima facie wrong, not that it is wrong in any and all circumstances
- Abortion could be justified in some circumstances only if the loss consequence on failing to abort would be at least as great (the loss of the mother) as the loss of the fetus.

Defense/ support

• It does not rest on religious claims or Papal dogma
• It is not subject to objections of "speciesism" (because it doesn't make claims either way about animals)


It covers beings that are not biologically human, but who would suffer the loss of a future (non-human animals, aliens)


Does not entail that active euthanasia is wrong (terminally ill, painfully ill individuals do not have a future-like-ours)


It covers (normal) infants and children as we assume they have a future-like-ours


Seems to exclude mentally enfeebled, senile, etc.


Abortion can be justified in some circumstances (so absolutists will not be convinced)

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