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Historical Information
Abortion Terminology
Critique Section
The Ethical Question

The Ethical Question

The ethical question relative to abortion is a question of, considering the current laws of a country, whether or not it is right to prevent a woman from having an abortion or to allow a woman to abort her fetus under certain circumstances.

As confusing as that sounds, it is actually quite simple. In a hypothetical situation where the laws state that abortions are illegal, is it ethical to restrict a teenaged rape victim from obtaining an abortion? The law forbids a woman from obtaining one, and so, technically, she should not have one. However, several factors come into play when making a final decision: first, the entire pregnancy was against her own will, and therefore caused by sexual harassment; and secondly, a teenager, regardless of the age, generally does not have the resources and skills to take care of a newborn child. Therefore, should she not be granted the child?

The answer to this question brings us back to the debate for abortion. If an abortion is allowed when the laws prohibit the act from occurring, then that is to say that the value of the life of fetus was less than the value of the life of a fetus that was not allowed to be aborted. Therefore, it is made apparent that both the current laws of a country as well as a person's particular morals affect how 'ethical' an abortion can be.

The previous hypothetical situation can also be seen from a different point of view. If you did not notice, I neglected to address the life of the fetus if it were to live. Suppose the young teenage girl was not granted an abortion; however, via government and social services, the girl was promised that the child would be placed in foster. Is it ethical for the fetus to be granted a life where he may never know his real parents?

The possibilities of adoptions are endless. Suppose the child were adopted by a homosexual couple there is always the risk that he will be ridiculed by others. The consequences of being 'bullied' at school can sometimes lead to serious, damaging results, and so should we force a child to live that life?

Now, let us suppose the child were adopted by a heterosexual couple. There is no guarantee that this particular family will love and care for the child. Therefore, looking at the negative side of adoption, is it ethical to prevent the teenager from getting an abortion?

There is a chance that the baby will end up with a relatively good life; however, there are good chances that the child will end up with a relatively bad life. Depending on your particular stance on abortion, you will focus on either one side of adoption, or the other. If the baby ends up with a great life (for example, the baby eventually manages a successful company), then that would only support the ethical question of preventing abortion. However, if the baby ends up with a horrible life (for example, the baby eventually becomes drug-addicted), then that would support the ethical ideal that a teenaged rape victim should be granted abortion. Of course, this is showing the two extreme results of abortion and adoption.

Another hypothetical situation would be a drug-addicted, careless, teenaged girl, who has dropped out of school, engaging in sexual relations and eventually becoming pregnant. When the teenaged girl inquires to a doctor as to the stomach pains she has been receiving and is told that she is pregnant, she refuses to give up her drug-addicted ways and continues to use drugs. When the teenager is asked if she would prefer to abort the child, she refuses. Likewise, when the teenager is asked if she would prefer to give the child up for adoption, she refuses. Let us make the assumption that the girl is equal to or above the age of consent in Canada (fourteen years of age).

Would it be ethical to carry out this teenager's wishes? The laws state that we cannot go against one's wishes when it concerns their own matters (therefore, we cannot abort the child without the mother's consent). Should we leave the life of an unborn child in the hands of an uneducated, drug-addicted, teenaged girl?

Suppose one says that we should respect her wishes. This would mean that, due to the mother's drug-addiction, the child has an even higher chance of becoming drug-addicted. Therefore, despite having the consequences of being born into a potentially negligent life, the child is not placed under adoption, and there is a high risk that it will become drug-addicted. Would this be an ethical decision, despite these potential consequences?

Suppose we did not heed the teenager's wishes, and somehow forced the woman into receiving an abortion. Is it ethical to go against this person's wishes? After all, rape is a comparable crime: engaging in sexual relations with someone without their consent. Therefore, is it ethical to abort this child, albeit the bad life it may assume, by going against the mother's wishes?

Ethics is not an easy subject to understand, nor is it easy for one to come to an ethical conclusion because of the criticism they may receive. After all, for every situation, there are both good and bad consequences. However, when considering the above hypothetical situations, one can easily understand that laws and morals directly affect the ethicality of a decision, and the criticisms one may face upon making a decision.