Utilitarianism is the most helpful ethical approach when discussing the issues around abortion' Discuss.

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T.Healy L6G

‘Utilitarianism is the most helpful ethical approach when discussing the issues around abortion'

Utilitarianism does not have one blanket answer to the question of abortion, but looks at the merits of each situation. It does not accept the principle that human life has absolute value and aims to promote the greatest happiness for those concerned. However Utilitarianism has many problems and therefore is not the most helpful, ethical approach when discussing the issues around abortion.

Murder is sometimes defended on utilitarian grounds, for example, in the case of war. To wage war is to bring about the death of innocent people intentionally; these deaths are effectively unavoidable as a practical matter. Despite this, many believe that war can be justified, if the good outweighs the evil. So using the same argument perhaps abortion could be defended as a moral choice, even if it were murder, on the same grounds? In my opinion this utilitarian approach has a number of problems. It is difficult to see how utilitarian principles could justify a violation of rights as serious as murder in order to avoid an outcome such as childbearing which can be viewed as something that is burdensome and which can be avoided with peaceful methods for example refraining from intercourse. In the case where a mother’s life was at risk, Preference Utilitarianism might be a better approach to abortion, as it considers the preferences of the mother, the harm to other family members and so on. Using this theory one could analyse the situation of the mother and thus make a decision that, if the mother had, for instance 2 other children that were dependent on her, that abortion would be the necessary action.

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Most utilitarian defenses of abortion seem also to work as defenses of killing infants: both might reduce the number of unwanted children and any other social problems that may result from this, and increase the freedom and autonomy of women by reducing their responsibilities. A utilitarian approach requires that competing outcomes be valued in order to compare them, and that valuing seems subjective when the competing outcomes are of different types. For example, in war, you could weigh the number of murders that will result if no war is waged against the number of murders that will result from ...

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