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In the article Are Pregnant Women Fetal Containers, by Laura Purdy she discusses her philosophical position on abortion. Is the fetus a person? Does the fetus have the moral status of a person, whether technically a person or not? Does the fetus have any moral status at all and if so does this status change during the course of a pregnancy? What is the woman’s role in the matter? Is she merely an incubator for another organism? When does the tissue, which comprises the fetus cease to be a part of her body? Is there a distinction between what a women-contemplating abortion ought to do and what a society can justly coerce her to do? Purdys main argument is that if the fetus is apart of a womens body and not a separate entity, therefore she has the right to make a choice on whether to have an abortion or not. Claiming that the fetus is dependent on the mother and is not a person; the fetus cannot evolve into an individual with rights because the mother has the right to choose whether to bring the child into the world or not. In this essay Im going to provide supportive explanations on why Purdy believes its ethical to leave the choice of abortion entirely up the mother.First of all Purdy confronts the problem of women having the ability to control what happens to their bodies because of the societies influences on the welfare of the fetus.
For example, doctors often over-ride a womens choice and perform dangerous surgeries in order to save the live of the fetus. Protecting the fetus becomes more important than the rights of the mother; our society puts over-whelming demands on the mother in order to protect the fetus from harm. Because the fetus is so vulnerable, protecting it becomes a natural concern and conflict when the rights of the mother vs.
the rights of a fetus.In the latter part of Purdys article, she grapples fundamental moral questions that are at the heart of the debate: Is the fetus a person or not? What do we owe others who do not yet exist? What legally enforceable duties towards such future persons can be exacted of us? These questions are answered by comparing a child of which is a person to a fetus that is not a moral person. In legal terms a mother cannot be forced to save the life of her child by donating her organs, therefore its her choice to do so. If in deed a child were a person than what since would it make for a mother to be forced to submit to invasive surgical procedures for the sake of her fetus than for her child. On the same note how can we expect mothers to owe more to a fetus than to an independent living-breathing child. Parents are not expected to submit to bodily invasions to save a dying child, then a women should not be expected to do so for the benefit of a fetus. Parenthood and pregnancy become a relevant difference in defining whether its permissible to abort the fetus.
If a child is denied life because a parent refuses to donate bone marrow for example, than certainly our legal system cannot logically order women to proceed with the birth of the child.Thirdly, Purdy considers the role of the medical and legal community has on the autonomy of women, such as performing caesarean section without inform constant. Many times there are other options that arent shared with the patient and the medical community often chooses the procedure for the patient. In many cases, decisions made by physicians regarding the care of women do not exhibit moral reasoning of the mothers rights, instead concern more with saving the fetus. Womens right to refuse medical advise and endanger the fetus is acceptable and the medical establishment does not have the right to hold a mother against her will so that compliance could be assured. Doctors would subject women to life-threatening procedures to attempt to save the life of her fetus, yet women may be denied life-saving treatment because of no medical insurance.
How are we to say that a fetus of which is completely dependent on the mothers protection should be given special privileges to live, and to force the parent to pay thousands of dollars in intensive care treatments. Yes, we can deny medical treatment to people based on lack of money but we can force mothers to spend millions of dollars in prenatal care on a fetus that is not a person. Is this moral? Purdy does not think so.In summary, Women have more say over their bodies after death than they do over their bodies while their alive. It is unjust for society to subject women to life threatening medical procedures while concern for the well-being of existing children are not held as equally valued. It is Purdy strongest view that women should have control over their bodies and that its morally wrong to knowingly bring a diseased or handicapped child into the world.
A fetus is not a person which does not constitute the society at hand to make choices for the mother who his bearing the infant. Ethics advocate that as individuals we must struggle with the question of the personhood of the fetus, but Purdy makes a strong case for the allowance of abortion because the fetus is not a person. Bibliography: