There has been a lot of public debate in philosophical realm regarding the right of the fetus and abortion debacle. In this paper, I am going to focus on the Mary Anne warren’s account regarding personhood. The stand point would be to pint out whether this is the true reflection to the event or not according to my opinion.
According to Warren a fetus is not full human being, and in certain conditions, abortion is justified. This is completely differing with the stand point of another philosopher Judith Simpson who believes that fetus are granted a person status then the most limited rights to abortion would be crated.
According to Warren’s view the question of morality or biology is occasionally confused when the abortion and concept of a person is debated (stairs.umd.edu). She points out that biologically, fetuses are human beings, but that fact does not make them full members of the moral society. The argument in her stand point is until a fetus reaches a stage to gain membership to the moral community, then the fetus is not person. This leaves us with one conclusion, humanity based on biology is not essential in moral personhood.
To be considered as moral community member deserving the rights of a person an alien creature or a fetus must;
- Have the ability to feel pain and be conscious.
- Have the ability to reason.
- Have the ability to develop goal and motive; this enables the creature to act in ways that surpass instinct.
- Be able to develop and use complex communication criteria
- Have sense of self.
The above features according to warren can be used to describe what a moral person is. If an alien creature was to appear and fulfill all the above factors, and considerations, then it has to be accorded full-fledged moral humanity. A section of these factors may be considered alone or in combination to accord moral personhood to a creature without satisfying all of them.
When it comes to a fetus, Warren argues that the fact that fetuses resemble human beings is not a criterion to consider them as humans (Warren 1973). At the point of birth, the only criterion fetuses have is the ability to feel pain and consciousness; this cannot warrant them the status of the moral humanity. This totally disregards the developments in the womb that make it resemble humans as it matures. In fact, a fish or a snake has more rights than the fetus!
However, it is wise to note that what Warren tries to differentiate is full person, and a potential person. She asserts that fetuses are potential persons, and have some rights, with this not withstanding, the rights of mother to abortion are far greater, and outweigh the rights of the fetus (Warren 1973).
In my view Warren’s decision, to say that people disapprove infanticide because they would not like to see infants die is wrong (Warren 2000). In fact, the science she disputes is the way forward. Life starts at conception; although a fetus is human there might be an instance that a mother has to decide on the fate of the fetus. What happens if the life of the mother is in danger, what happens when they cannot provide for the child, what happens if the mother is a psychologically disabled? The reasons are very clear the abortion debate depends on the cause of the decision and the overall welfare of the already existing persons. This point supports Warren’s idea of having to subject the fetus or any creature to the criteria she designed.
I must admit that I do not totally disagree or agree with warrens stand point. There are issues which I agree with in her standpoint, whereas some are not within my reams of thinking. Abortion debate today has become more political, the issues regarding legalization of abortion in some countries has been the agenda of political campaigns to gain power, and will of the people to higher offices. I do not think abortion in a safe way that has been thoroughly considered is a problem at all. Actually countries with legalized abortion clauses in their constitution have fewer cases of complications arising from it than those which illegalize it. This is because, in illegalized countries lot of unsafe methods are employed putting the lives of citizen procuring it at danger.
To solve Warrens problems and criticism of her view it wise to note that legal parenthood should start at birth. A lot of harm may occur to the mother especially if she has to keep the pregnancy against her emotions and will. In the current democratic world, a person granted autonomy, this must include the decision whether to give birth or not; thus it is right to say that the fetus gets the right to life immediately after birth, but not before. “This is because” after birth, the child gets autonomy like any other person!
In conclusion, the way Warren explains her thoughts and conception of abortion and personhood is exhilarating. The question she raises of biological and moral considerations to personhood are quite valid. In a religious view, I am tempted to conclude that she is wrong, but on considering the amount of thought given to the facts raised, abortion is never right or wrong, it depends on purpose and context.