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The Moral Issue of Abortion. The heart of the problem  Prenatal life raises questions about two important human goods: 1. The woman’s personal choices.

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Presentation on theme: "The Moral Issue of Abortion. The heart of the problem  Prenatal life raises questions about two important human goods: 1. The woman’s personal choices."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Moral Issue of Abortion

2 The heart of the problem  Prenatal life raises questions about two important human goods: 1. The woman’s personal choices and responsibility for her life; 2. The important reality of a distinctively new human life. - The dual nature of prenatal life creates the major moral dilemma

3 Fetal Development  Conception or fertilization usually takes place in the Fallopian tube. A single sperm penetrates an ovum or egg, and the resulting cell is called a zygote.  The zygote contains all of the genetic information (DNA), 46 chromosomes, necessary to become a child. Half of the genetic information comes from the mother’s egg, and half from the father’s sperm. (genetic uniqueness since completion of fertilization)  The zygote spends the next few days (2-3) traveling down the Fallopian tube and divides to form a ball of cells. Further cell division creates an inner group of cells with an outer shell. This stage is called a "blastocyst". The inner group of cells will become the embryo, while the outer group of cells will become the membranes that nourish and protect it.  The cells of the zygote are in their totipotential state (twinning is possible)

4 This picture is a fertilized egg only thirty hours after conception. Magnified here, it is no larger than the head of a pin. Still rapidly dividing, the developing embryo, called a zygote at this stage, floats down from the fallopian tube and towards the uterus.

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6  Implantation starts at day 7 and is completed around day 14.  The cells of the embryo now multiply and begin to take on specific functions. This process is called differentiation, which produces the varied cell types that make up a human being (such as blood cells, kidney cells, and nerve cells).

7  Fertilization is a hour process, not a “moment”  Implantation marks a shift in developmental focus: with implantation the individual identity becomes stable even though it has been characterized by genetic uniquness

8 First Trimester (fertilization to week 12)  By the fifth week of the pregnancy, the brain, spinal cord, heart, and other organs begin to form.brainheart  In the last few weeks of the first trimester, the embryo really starts to take shape.  The facial structures begin to form and become recognizable. The neural tube, which will form the brain and spinal cord, develops. Little buds emerge and grow into arms and legs.brain

9  Around week 8, the embryo becomes a fetus.fetus  The kidneys, liver, brain, and lungs are all beginning to function. The fingers and toes are separate and the external genitalia are formed.  At 12 weeks, the fetus is about three inches long and weighs about one ounce.

10 The Second Trimester (week 13-week 26) By week 15, the fetus is around five inches long and weighs about two ounces. Although its eyelids are fused shut, its eyes are noweyes sensitive to light.light

11 Fetal survival rate:  Most babies at 22 weeks are not resuscitated because survival without major disability is so rare. A baby's chances for survival increases 3-4% per day between 23 and 24 weeks of gestation and about 2-3% per day between 24 and 26 weeks of gestation. After 26 weeks survival is high.

12 Third Trimester (week 27 to birth)  Interlinking of the brain's neurons begins. The higher functions of the fetal brain turn on for the first time.  Some rudimentary brain waves can be detected. The fetus will be able to feel pain for the first time. It has become conscious of its surroundings.  Later (7 months) regular brain waves are detectable which are similar to those in adults.

13 Methods of Abortion 1. Surgical techniques: - vacuum aspiration - D&C (dilation and curettage) - saline injection - D&E (dilation and evacuation) - D&X (dilation and extraction, “partial birth abortion” ) - Hysterotomy

14 2. Pharmaceutical means:  Morning after pill (form of contraception because it prevents implantation)  Prostaglandin Mifepriston (RU-486)

15 Roe v. Wade (1973)  In the 1 st trimester, states cannot make any laws regulating abortions;  In the 2 nd trimester, states cannot make any laws regulating abortions unless they are related to the health of the woman;  In the 3 rd trimester, states may make laws regulating abortions, and even forbid them, unless abortion is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.

16  The decision was made based on a right, the woman’s right to personal privacy, something that is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution but nonetheless guaranteed by it.  It acknowledged and protects a woman’s choice about her pregnancy, BUT it fails to acknowledge that prenatal human life in the first 2 trimesters as also something important and valuable

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18 Uncompromising positions  Pro-life Right to life The ideological right-to-life position tramples on a woman’s prerogative to make choices about her own body  Pro-choice Right to choose The ideological right-to-choose position fails to appreciate the human life of the fetus

19  The debate reveals a fundamental weakness in arguments that use rights as trump cards: when more than one right is in play, no resolution is possible  An alternative approach is needed. Ethics is not about rights but about what is good. Life, even prenatal life, is a very basic good. Prenatal human life has a value, and this value is lost if we destroy it.

20 The morality of abortion argued from uncompromising positions suggests we look elsewhere for moral insight. A moral reasoning the first acknowledges the complexity of the issue and then seeks a solution according to right reason.

21  Abortion is always a moral decisions, and a serious one because it is the taking of human life. Thus we need serious reasons to justify an abortion.  The important things is not to begin the discussion with a claim on rights but with a recognition that destroying prenatal life is a serious action, and it should never be done without compelling reaons.

22 Widespread agreement about some elective abortions One can argue that abortion would be morally reasonable includes:  Ectopic pregnancy  Selective abortion: pregnancies with too many fetuses  Seriously defective fetuses (anencephaly, genetic defects, such as trisomy 13 or trisomy 18)

23 The Central Argument Here is the main argument that is usually advanced against abortion: P 1 : The fetus is an innocent person. P 2 : It is morally wrong to end the life of an innocent person. C: Therefore, it is morally wrong to end the life of a fetus.

24 The Moral Status of the Fetus  Much of the debate in regard to abortion has centered around the first premise, namely, whether the fetus is a person or not.  If the fetus is a person, then it has the rights that belong to persons, including the right to life.  The concept of personhood, in other words, is the bridge that connects the fetus with the right to life. Fetus Personhood Rights

25 Criteria of Personhood  Possible criteria Conceived by humans (member of the human species) Genetic structure (genetic uniqueness) Individuality Presence of a soul (animation) Viability A future like ours Potentiality

26 Cahill’s “ethos of solidarity”  We must place reproductive matters into the context of social practices, institutions, and policies and address the roles that religion and theology may have in making these more equitable and just  The challenge is to affirm and advance gender equality in practice and in theory, while providing positive alternatives to women and couples for whom pregnancy is a threat of well-being

27  Issues related to abortion and sexual morality cannot be addressed apart from gender roles ad relationships  An adequate solution to the problem of abortion must recognize: The importance of sexual responsibility Gender equality Responsibility of both parents Responsibility of every community


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