CRITICAL THINKING PAPER #5 Abstract This paper expresses the viewpoint of a Utilitarian and how they would look at abortion. This paper illustrates there should be a right to choose what you should be able to do in regards to abortion and uses the term “reproductive freedom”. Contained within are statistics on social and economic benefits of abortion and the Utilitarian viewpoint for abortion is explained. Abortion is an essential part of living in the modern world. Today, we expect people to be able to identify what sex is and what procreation is.
They are not the same. To enjoy it as an expression of love, intimacy and desire is different from the sole purpose of making a baby. We also can expect to have the ability to plan our future families. Contraception works for most people most of the time when it is used or having it’s theories applied. But, we are fallible, and our judgments sometimes are not clear. Sex, by its very nature, can be passionate and impulsive, it is not always planned or prepared for. Family planning demands that abortion be made available as a backup when contraception has failed.
When mistakes happen for a variety of reasons and the woman becomes pregnant, options to amend and/or end the pregnancy should be available. Abortion is a sensitive topic that requires a considerable amount of understanding when addressing the reasons and ethics behind it. I support abortion as a supervised medical procedure, performed by qualified medical personnel, used as a means to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. My justification for abortion stems from a rule-utilitarianism standpoint (Utilitarianism. com, 1¶, 2010).
When using the rule-utilitarian consequentialist principle of ethics (Utilitarianism. com, 1¶, 2010), we establish a set of general morals and rules in which we can apply to every moral question based upon our findings. When we take this and apply it to abortion, we see that abortion is completely ethical and can provide for the greatest amounts of good for the greatest amounts of people. In society these days, Utilitarianism is the name of the game. From Recycling plastics, metal and paper, to cutting down on our eco-footprint, the basis of Utilitarianism is still the same; the hilosophy of the greatest good for the greatest amount, is one of the basic building blocks of the society. Utilitarianism in general is based on the empirical evidence that has widespread acceptance. By looking at the medical and social health benefits of abortion, we can come to the conclusion that it is ethical on the basis that it spreads happiness amongst a great number of people. The following statistics reflect the social, physical, and emotional benefits of abortion According to the CDC, “Specialized surveys indicate that most abortions are elective.
In one U. S. study, women on average gave 3. 7 reasons for obtaining an abortion, with 76% choosing concern about how having a baby could change their lives” (CDC, 4¶, 2006). This shows that women choosing abortions do think of consequences ahead of time, regardless of how safe or protective their measures with their sexual activity were. I do support abortion but not as an alternate use for contraceptive devices. I think that it is incredibly irresponsible to use a medical procedure as birth control.
My thinking should reflect that I like having the option of the procedure open but with a few restrictions placed on the moral side of the argument. I do stand by my opinion that I support all medically supervised abortions, in the physical sense. What I mean by this is, I support all abortions regardless of the length or pregnancy, age restrictions or religious beliefs. Half of all pregnancies in the U. S. each year are unintended, and about half of these are terminated by medically safe, legal abortions. In 2000, 1. 1 million abortions took place, down from an estimated 1. 61 million in 1990. From 1973 through 2000, more than 39 million legal abortions occurred (Cates, 2¶, 2003). Following the legalization of abortion, the largest decline in birthrates were seen among women for whom the health and social consequences of unintended childbearing are the greatest women over 35, teenagers, and unmarried women (AGI, 2005). Today, 30 percent of the abortions in the U. S. are provided to women over 35 and to teenagers (associatedcontent. com).
If safe, legal abortion were not available, more women would experience unwanted childbearing, and unwanted childbearing affects entire families and society. Mothers with unwanted births suffer from higher levels of depression and lower levels of happiness than mothers without unwanted births. These mothers reprimand, spank and slap their children more often than other mothers, and spend less leisure time outside the home with their children. Lower-quality mother/child relationships are not limited to the child born as a result of the unwanted pregnancy, all the children in the family suffer.
Having an unintended child would be one of life’s biggest tragedies. When you are pregnant against your will, you are unequivocally being held to your actions no matter how incredibly irresponsible you were. In comparison, I make a blanket statement saying “I stand by my word”. Does that mean that every word I have ever said I stand behind? It should be known that I stand by my word, regardless when or how I said it, however, I might now disagree with what I said at the time. The premises might change, people change, and decisions and life choices that effect your live change right along with those.
This same thought is the same thing that involves many people in society, having a negative decision you made in the past effect your life today. I want the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. If a woman thinks that the greatest amount of good can come from an abortion, then I support it. There is a greater positive social effect because of abortion. Couples at risk of having children affected with a severe and often fatal genetic disorder have been willing to conceive because of the availability of amniocentesis and safe, legal abortion (Finer, Stanely, p. 5, 2003). Most women report a sense of relief knowing that if they find out they are carrying a baby with genetic abnormalities or conditions that might otherwise make child-rearing more challenging than it already is, have a better overall sense of security knowing that these laws are in place. Additionally, serious psychological disturbances after abortion occur less frequently than after childbirth. This data, provided by Planned Parenthood, illustrates an ethical case for abortions (Plannedparenthood. org, 2010).
By addressing the data, we can create a sound, logically based argument for the ethics behind abortions, relating to rule-utilitarian ethics. If half of all abortions are unplanned, then why should couples (or women more specifically) subject themselves to the nine months of pregnancy for something they potentially may not want, need, or have the means to take care of? This creates an unnecessary hardship and burden on the individuals to provide and take care of another life in which they may not be ready to do so. Also, other social patterns are pointed out.
Author Judith Schroedel reports on the social comparison data of the effects of abortion on the differences of abortion policies of the fifty states. She says “Compared to pro-choice states, anti-abortion states spend far less money per child on a range of services such as foster care, education, welfare, and the adoption of children who have physical and mental disabilities (Schroedel, p. 17, 2¶, 2000). Additionally, a comparison to other social injustices in those states might connect non-abortion states to poverty, gender bias and poor education.
She says “The states that have the strongest anti-abortion laws are also the states in which women suffer from lower levels of education and higher levels of poverty, as well as from a lower ratio of female-to-male earnings. They also have a lower percentage of women in the legislature and fewer mandates requiring insurance providers to cover minimum hospital stays after childbirth” (Schroedel, p. 17, 3¶, 2000). By utilizing abortion, women whom pregnancy is not an optimal decision are able to terminate births before they can have a disastrous effect on their bodies, emotions, and even lives.
Women over 35 and teenagers have physical, financial, emotional, and mental reasons to abstain from getting pregnant (Barber, Axinn, Thorton, 6¶ 1999). Services that provide abortions to women of these likes give teenager a second chance at fulfilling her life, or a middle-aged woman the chance to avoid physical complications from birth. Abortions allow the prevention of bringing more severely dependent people into a world that are unable to be cared for and provided for. All of these ideas point to valid reasoning as to why supporting the use of abortion is positive and helpful. Abortions in the United States are safe.
The death rate at all stages is 0. 06 per 100,000. This is over 10 times safer for the mother than carrying to full term. Before the Roe vs. Wade case in 1973, roughly 200 women died each year from botched abortions. Legalizing abortion in the U. S. ended once common killers of pregnant women; septicemia (sever infection in the body) and bleeding to death from a botched amateur D&C (dilatation and curettage refers to the dilation of the cervix and surgical removal of the contents of the uterus) (Baumgardner, p. 18, 3¶ 2008). Abortions are going to occur regardless of whether or not society finds them ethical.
Time and time again, we have shown that if an industry gets constricted in regulations in the United States, people will find a way, legal or illegal, to so do whatever it is that they originally wanted. This is observed in the civil rights movements, prohibition and gambling. Since this is true, then does it not make more sense to create a legal, safe and accepting environment for such procedures to occur? And, without these facilities, more unwanted births would occur and statistical evidence proves that these situations create undue hardships on not only the mother, but the entire family.
This, in turn, lowers the quality of life of all those involved and from a utilitarian viewpoint, should not be allowed. Let’s think quality, not quantity in the numbers of our population. The consequences symbolize a systematic decrease in birth-rates, nonetheless, reproduction will still occur, and will ultimately result in the increasing of utility amongst the population. It is unbelievable to consider only those directly involved in individual instances of abortion, and much more important, to recognize the fact that society does not revolve around these individuals but around general rules that result in overall happiness.
From these principles, we can conclude that the consequences of said ethical justifications result in a question of whether or not it is ethical to bring more people into the world, or to control the rate at which children are born. Let me make my point clear on this. Make no mistake that when I say population control, I do not advocate legal government intervention or a feudal system type lottery, I simply state my original thought for the concern of the quality of the people born, not quantity. This is meant as a non-bias point of view to any social class, race, creed or religious people.
When thinking of the health of the potential mother, evidence shows that more women suffer from depression after child birth than after receiving an abortion (Boonstra, Gold, Richards, Finer, 3¶, 2006). From a utilitarian standpoint, any situation that spreads depression on the populace can be seen as ethically wrong. And, while no numbers can be proven in this, some women who have abortions have averted alleged disasters in their life, often due to the fact they are not emotionally and financially ready to accept the responsibilities of raising a child.
This will ultimately result in the loosening of unnecessary burdens on not only the individual, but more importantly, society. When realizing abortion from a utilitarian standpoint, life is generally much happier for those directly and indirectly involved. Fewer children are uncared for, fewer families are burdened by unwanted children, fewer resources have to be divulged towards state children facilities, and ethical population control is thus put into practice. The utilitarian sees the question of abortion as a non-issue.
The real issue is answering all moral questions from a societal standpoint, and conveying the greatest amount of utility to the vast population. In conclusion, there are countless exceptions to this vast and wildly opinionated topic of abortion. I argue for the evidence that Americans have reaped great benefits to their physical, mental, and social health from the historic decision in Roe vs. Wade. Note that any erosion of a woman’s right and access medically safe, legal abortion jeopardizes the health of women, their families, and the nation as a whole.
I believe in reproductive freedom and understand that the rule-utilitarian principle of ethics seeks to set a general rule for which to be applied to all moral decisions. I believe in choices be made available to all, and the utilitarian states that all unwanted pregnancies and pregnancies that represent a physical, mental, emotional, and financial hardship should be able to be terminated via abortion. Resources Abortionno. (2010). The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform. Fast facts: Retrieved on August 02, 2010 from http://www. abortionno. org/Resources/fastfacts. tml AGI [Alan Guttmacher Institute]. (2005). Facts in Brief: Induced Abortion in the United States. Retrieved on August 02, 2010 from http://www. agi-usa. org/pubs/fb _induced_abortion. pdf Baumgardner, J. (2008). Abortion & Life. Akashic Books: New York, NY Barber, J. , Axinn, W. G. , Thorton, A. (1999). University of Michigan, Unwanted Childbearing, Health, and Mother-Child Relationships. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Retrieved on August 02, 2010 from http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov /pubmed/10513146 Boonstra, H. , Gold, R. , Richards, C.
L. , Finer, L. (2006). Abortion in Women’s Lives. New York, NY: Guttmacher Institute. Cates, W. , Grimes, D. A. , Schulz, K. F. (2003). CBS News. The Public Health Impact of Legal Abortion: 30 Years Later. Perpectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Retrieved on August 02, 2010 from http://findarticles. com/p/articles/ mi_m0NNR/is_1_35/ai_97873955/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006). Abortion Surveillance. United States. morbidity and mortality weekly report. Retrieved on August 02, 2010 from http://www. cdc. gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss5511. df Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2006). Home, MMWR. Retrieved on August 02, 2010 from http://www. cdc. gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5808a1. htm Finer, L. , Stanley, H. (2003). Abortion Incidence and Services In the United States in 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. p. 35. Grimes, D. A. (2005). Risks of Mifepristone Abortion in Context. Contraception. Retrieved on August 02, 2010 from http://www. cdc. gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5808a1. htm Planned Parenthood. (2010). Home. Topics. Abortion: Retrieved on August 02, 2010 ttp://www. plannedparenthood. org/ Schroedel, J. (2000). Is the Fetus a Person? A comparison of policies across the fifty states. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. p. 17. Terall, E. (2010). Associated Content. News. The ends or the means, kantian ethics vs. utilitarianism. Retrieved on August 02, 2010 from http://www. associatedcontent. com/ article/239560/the_ends_or_the_means_kantian_ethics. html? cat=9 Utilitarianism. (2010). Home Page. Utilitarianism resources. Retrieved on August 02, 2010 from http://www. utilitarianism. com/ruleutil. htm