• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Asses the claim that it is the definition of human life that lies at the heart of the abortion debate.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Asses the claim that it is the definition of human life that lies at the heart of the abortion debate. There are many religious arguments associated with abortion, arguing that sanctity of life and the commandment "you shall not kill", prevent abortion from being morally acceptable. However, this is dependent on when the ball of cells inside the mother can be defined as an individual human life, and not just an extension of the mother's body. Some people believe that life begins at contraception, for example Catholics, yet at this stage the fertilised ovum is just a clump of cells, and it is not even possible to define which cells will go on to form human cells, and which will form the cells of the placenta, surely this cannot be considered a human life? ...read more.

Middle

On the other hand I do not think that just because cells are recognisable as human, it means that the embryo is a human being. Judith Javis-Thompson argued that although an acorn has all the potential to be an oak tree, there is a continuous growth from an acorn to an oak tree, and an acorn is not an oak tree. Similarly, an embryo is not yet a human person, but will slowly become one over time. I agree with this as I think it is inconsistent that an embryo should be an extension of the mother's body one day, and a human being the next. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, there are other issues involved in the abortion debate that focus more on the balance of rights between the mother and the foetus than on the definition of human life. For example, if the mother's life is in danger, most people would agree that the mother's rights to life come before that of the child, as the mother has dependants. Yet, if a Catholic believed very strongly that a foetus is a human life and abortion is murder, then the mother would have the same rights to life as the foetus, and the mother may feel obliged to put her life in danger to save the foetus. Therefore, ultimately, even issues involving rights are dependent on the definition of human life and at what stage a foetus is considered to be a human. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Consider the arguments for and against paid organ donation.

    Philosophical aspects of the argument must also be considered; I have already said that the religious ideas of opposition to organ donation cannot be falsified, because they are not scientific, so we can never know that organ donation is right or wrong, and therefore, it would be unfair to disallow

  2. Discussion of abortion

    These people would disagree with the statement because they believe that in some circumstances it is necessary to have an abortion. For example in cases of rape or if the mother is too young. They believe that the woman should have the choice whether or not to keep the baby.

  1. Modern life-prolonging technologies have sharpened some ancient dilemmas on the value of life.

    But preventive killing will not provide a criterion to choose among lives when, for example, medical resources are too scarce to help all who need them. In cases of scarcity it may contingently -and frequently- be the case that more must be left to die than are saved, rather than vice versa.

  2. is abortion justified to save the mother's life

    This list undermines the right that any human being feels that they might have, in ending that of another human being. It follows: life, knowledge, play, aesthetic experience (or beauty), sociability (or friendship), practical reasonableness and religion. Finnus makes clear that these are good which constitute a valuable life, and so abortion is a great moral evil.

  1. The Ethical Debate Concerning Cloning.

    He also stresses that begetting children provides unification of two individuals physically and genetically. Another argument that Kass uses against cloning is that it is unethical to experiment on humans . Scientists have never cloned a human so they cannot be sure what the outcomes of the procedure would be.

  2. How are religious and ethical principles used in the abortion debate?

    This is clearly as odds with the Roman Catholic position, which seems to suggest that a fertilised egg qualifies as a person. However, Warren's argument is vulnerable; surely a foetus that is capable of surviving outside of the womb is entitled to moral rights?

  1. Explore some of the arguments in favour of abortion

    However, there is the doctrine of double effect. While it may be morally permissible to perform a good action that may have a bad outcome, it is morally impermissible to perform a bad action with a good outcome. The theory of natural law states that you are only responsible for the immediate consequences of your actions, but not for secondary or unintended effects of your action.

  2. Assess the claim that Free Will and Determinism are compatible

    He refuted the idea of the will being intrinsically free, instead suggesting the 'tabula rasa' - the mind as a blank slate which is filled by life experiences that create each person's moral framework. We as human beings develop morality during our lives.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work