The Moral Status of the Fetus

6 June 2016

The debate over abortion comes down to one essential issue — the moral status of the unborn child. “Those choosing legalization of abortion will argue that the developing fetus lacks a moral status that would trump a woman’s desire to abort the child. Those against abortion argue by making the opposite claim; that the unborn child, because it is a developing human being, possesses a moral status because of its human existence; and that would clearly trump any rationale offered for its willful destruction.” (1)My moral belief would be that Life begins at Conception, therefore a fetus has just as much of a moral status as a newborn baby.

What if someone used these arguments to justify the killing of an infant: “The baby was conceived through rape”-“The infant is deformed and mentally handicapped”-“The mother’s health is suffering as a result of her baby.” Would those who endorse abortion openly justify the killing of an infant using these excuses? No, they would not. This proves that these objections are that the heart of the matter is whether the fetus is a living human. (2) The bottom line being, that the fetus’s moral status does determine the just or unjust of the abortion, no matter what the situation may be.

The Moral Status of the Fetus Essay Example

“Pro-choicers” believe that there are situations in which abortions are the solution. Scenarios where an unwanted pregnancy happened due to rape is one of them. The idea that rape victims want to abort children conceived in these horrible circumstances is a common myth in the abortion controversy.

2 In fact, rape victims believe abortion would be another form of violence committed against their body. More than half of these victims that do abort, admit to aborting due to outside influence and 93% of them regret it. Of those that carry, none of them wished otherwise. These victims develop a heightened sense for life and find a new respect for it even when the unborn is in the fetus state. So clearly here, the fetus has a moral state, even to the victim. One that is more than “just a group of cells” “They believe their child’s life may have meaning or purpose they do not yet understand. They believe they were given this child for a reason.” (3)

Another reason women may look to abortion as a solution is if the fetus faces abnormalities or life threatening situations. At around 15 – 20 weeks gestation, women are given the option to undergo an amniocentesis. For some women, this is an option, for others, this is a must due to previous pregnancies with abnormalities.“This is a test done during pregnancy to get information about the fetus by sampling the amniotic fluid, which contains cells and chemicals which are fetal in origin.”(4) This test is looking for chromosomal genetic problems such as Down’s Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Cystic Fibrosis, Fragile X, and Sickle Cell Anemia.

After these tests are done, results take anywhere from 10- 14 days. Fetal age is about 22 weeks when the mother is deciding the future of her unborn child. By this time, the baby’s heart is beating, major organs are formed and maturing, facial features are becoming distinctive, and the mother can now feel the baby’s movements. Clearly the fetus has a moral status, and yet some women still choose to abort the fetus. Why? Because they do not want to “Sentence a child to life with an acute handicap?” Or they do not want to sentence themselves? Speaking from personal experience, my younger sister experienced a situation similar to this in August of 2000. She chose to have an amniocentesis test and when she received her results, she was told that there was a slight chance that my nephew Josh would have Down’s Syndrome. The news was

3 devastating for all of us, but abortion was never an option. We were going to accept Josh however he was. In November of 2000 he came into this world completely beautiful. 100% normal, and no Down’s syndrome. The amnio is only 99.4% accurate, and for some women, that’s enough to terminate a life. Not for my sister.

When it comes to life threatening situations for the mother, this is probably the most heated situation when it comes to the moral status of the fetus. Does the value of the mother’s life outweigh the value of the baby’s life? Do we save the mother? Or do we save the baby? What is the moral status of the fetus? Is it worth saving? A scenario like an ectopic pregnancy would suggest that we abort the fetus and save the mother. But that does not always have to be the solution. What we rarely realized is that there are several cases where ectopic pregnancies have survived!

‘There are not any cases of ectopic pregnancies in a fallopian tube that have survived, but studies have confirmed that time and patience will allow for regression of the ectopic pregnancy the majority of the time. So chemical or surgical removal of the pregnancy is not always necessary to save the mother’s life after all. However, if it is determined that the ectopic pregnancy does not resolve and the symptoms worsen, surgery may be necessary to save the mother’s life. The procedure does not kill the unborn child because the child has likely already deceased by the time surgery becomes necessary. The procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life, and the death of the unborn baby is unintentional. (2)

In all three of these scenarios, three of which seem to be the most delicate in defending the right for women to abort their unwanted pregnancy, we find reason to support why abortion is not the best option. Because no matter the time at which a woman decides to abort, the fetus, a living human being, it does in fact have a moral status. Whether it is two weeks to twenty weeks, from the moment of conception, the moral status is Life.

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