An Application of Kant’s Duty Ethics to the Abortion Debate
Abortion is one of the challenging concepts that have led to endless debates in decision- making processes in philosophy. Abortion has posed a different level of influence to the unborn child, a mother, and the father responsible for the pregnancy. All the parties affected by a decision on whether to undertake an abortion should be considered. However, the effects vary in different perspectives. For example, abortion has been urged to be an option when a mother’s life is endangered. Moreover, according to other moral values, it is unfair to take away the life of a child who barely has the strength to fight for survival. Therefore, some philosophers argue that a child’s life should be prioritized to that of an adult. The moral basis of abortion issues has been debated across religious, philosophical, psychological, natural law and other moral worth grounds. As a result, the decision-making process can be influenced by various factors and can only be left to the key participants who are affected by the issue.
In this paper, a discussion on abortion will be based on the philosophical views of the Kantian theory. This theory was named after the philosopher Immanuel Kant in the enlightenment era. This German philosopher stated that a decision on abortion should be based on the individual decision of the mother of a child. He said that the good will of a mother should dictate her comfort and that of her child. Therefore, if the pregnancy is a threat to the life of the mother, all factors held constant, the pregnancy should be terminated. According to this theory, the influence of the external forces should not shape the decisions made by an individual's action. Therefore, the morality of a person should be measured not on the cultural, political, religious, philosophical, or psychological backgrounds but the personal will. In order to elaborate much on morality on abortion, several ethical theories have been developed. A discussion of the ethical principles applied to solving the abortion dilemma will help in understanding this concept.
Several ethical theories that have been used in the study on abortion to empower people with the knowledge on the best way to perceive the process. However, due to the changing principals across the beliefs, practices, and the rationality of humanity, the opinions differ. Human beings have acquired different platforms to measure morality. As a result, there is variance in the way abortion is judged in the society. Therefore, Kant's suggestion on the individuals' will on the pregnancy stands out to be almost the most viable option. However, the religious, cultural, political, psychological, and other philosophical partners criticize the Kant theory. Therefore, it is not an appropriate factor to decide on the abortion because several factors have to be considered. To break down these elements into groups, these theories have also given their view on abortion either against or with Kantian theory.
Another theory that has attempted to solve the dilemma of abortion is the ethical theory of natural law. Natural law refers to the way human beings act and relate to the issues, environment, and factors that influence their performance in the society. It is the natural responsiveness of human to the changes or decision-making processes in the world. This theory applies to all people in the universe, and it is not theoretically but philosophically formulated. These factors make this theory objectively applicable to all human beings and consider all the influence created by different levels of humanity on decisions concerning abortion. According to this theory, all persons have a right to live and should be protected by others to attain and survive in life. Therefore, it is wrong to deter an unborn child's life from existing. However, in order to consider sufficiently the various factors that may trigger the need for abortion, several factors have been discussed on these theories.
This general theory conforms to the fact that abortion can be undertaken for good reasons. Therefore, three dimensions have been identified to consider the viability of an abortion option. These aspects include circumstance, the act itself, and motive. By circumstance, the situation of the matter should be considered. For example, is the mother's life in danger, is the child's life at risk, and what the most reasonable action should be taken. By the act itself, the will of the individual is considered. Here, the option taken can either be regarded as neutral, good, or evil depending on the human nature judgment. However, a neutral or good will is likely to be found, unlike wrong action for that translated to the selfishness of the agent. On the other hand, the intention of undertaking the abortion should be identified. The motive given or acquired to procedure an abortion provides a basis to judge the actions taken. For example, is the reason for the action taken to space children, avoid disgrace or cure a threatening disease.
Therefore, concerning the three dimensions, it is possible to measure the moral worth of a decision made in undertaking abortion. The natural theory advocates for the good or neutral motives on in the undertaking of an abortion. Therefore, the procedure should be conducted only in situations that prove threatening to both lives of the mother and child, and one has to be forgone. However, in cases that are controllable, no live should be lost for another. All human beings are equal and are subjected to the same rights, whether it is a fetus or an adult. As a result, this theory has contradicted the Kant’s theory for it protects both the unborn and the parent’s lives. However, the will of the parents involved has been considered in the natural law theory but is only viable in some cases. Therefore, the moral values and ethics on abortion limit the indulgence of the practice in the natural theory more than in Kant’s theory. This theory has been accredited due to positivity in advocating for justice in the decisions made. This aspect has been shown through the performance of the least indifferent actions, reduction in evil effects, and the need for a grave motive to undertake abortion. However, the same theory has been associated with the fault of contradicting the biocultural values of other people in the society. For example, in some African societies where twins are unacceptable, abortion is allowed but taking away a person’s life is illegal.
Additionally, the theory of deontology states that people should adhere to their responsibilities before indulging into compromising situations in their practices. In this concept, people should be keen on the ethical dilemmas in the society and evade them. As a result, less need to seek solutions on the way out is generated. For instance, unwanted pregnancies can be protected through abstinence or indulgence in protected sex. However, if a child is conceived by any chance, the active partners are expected to embrace and take responsibility for the situation. Therefore, deontologist ethical practices are based on the decisions made basing on their will. This theory seconds Kantian theory in that the individual will is the measure of the ethical practices on the issues at hand. All though this approach is substantially considered where a person is left to take charge of their lives, it has some faults. One of the flaws associated with this theory is the lack of rational basis to define individual’s duties. Therefore, any person can easily define their responsibilities in ways that suit them best and oppress the other people involved. For example, a man can suggest an abortion if he is not ready to start a family and not consider the health of the woman or the rights of the unborn. Therefore, these theories have created a loop for selfishness among participants.
In my opinion, abortion is surely a great dilemma in the society. However, it is impossible to base it fairly on the moral and ethical values. Abortion involves life and death, a responsibility that is beyond human beings control. Therefore, whether justified by the cultural, medical, or individual will and judgment, religiously it is wrong to take away lives. All the issues concern with life and death should be left to the supernatural powers to take control. Abortion is a crime and should be mitigated in the world. However, on the medical grounds, an argument for saving a mother's life has been raised severally. In my view, these issues on medical control did not exist in the ancient days, and people used to survive. It would not be a surprise more people die today from pregnancy complications caused by the medics procedures than in the early days when they did not exist. Moreover, it may be the destiny of the unborn child's mother to die during her child's birth. Therefore, the natural flow of events should not interfere with the knowledge attained by civilization.
Conversely, it would also be a drawback to allowing adverse effects of the people in the society to suffer under circumstances that can be controlled. Letting people die due to situations that can be medically handled, would be an injustice. Therefore, applying the best strategies for managing the effect of abortion should be implemented in the modern life. However, the only way to acquire a reasonable motive to either conduct an abortion can only be done through the consideration of an individual’s circumstance, intention, and will. Therefore, I support the application of Kant’s theory of ethics and additionally embrace the concept of the natural law of ethics theory. Through these theories, it is possible to determine and decide the most efficient and effective means to handle an abortion issue. The methods significantly support justice, respect for autonomy, beneficence, and least harm to all the parties involved. Through them, the ethical morals and values are also well safeguarded.
In conclusion, the application of Kant's duty ethics to abortion debate has empowered people with the knowledge of the factors that should be considered in the process. The theory has influenced the formulation of other philosophical theories in the world. Moreover, the decisions and judgments made on abortion issues have attained a better ground of personal will consideration with moral ethics. As a result, achieving solutions and controlling the adverse effects of abortion in the world has become easy over time.