In the extremely sensitive topic of whether or not abortion is something that should be morally accepted or cast out of thought, there will always be opposing sides to the argument. Many people argue that variables such as rape, infection, and possible death of the mother should be considered for a fair and accurate argument but it all leads to the same question: is abortion right? Harriet McBryde Johnson was a woman that lived her life in a wheelchair but still believed that her life was just as important as everyone elses. On the other hand, Peter Singer is a man who believes that if a baby is born with a deformity or disability, the baby should be aborted to ensure the lives of the family are kept “normal.” Personally, abortion isn’t something that I believe in, but Peter Singer does do an impeccable job of proving his reasoning.
To start, Peter Singer describes the definitions behind his claims. Defining the difference between words like “Involuntary Euthanasia” and “Non-Voluntary Euthanasia” help straighten out some confusion on how he views the subject. Singer states that, “If a human being is not capable of understanding the choice between life and death, euthanasia will neither be voluntary or involuntary, but non-voluntary.” Basically, Singer feels that instead of involuntary euthanasia, meaning that the human has neither been asked or has declined the choice of euthanasia but killed anyway, the human was given non-voluntary euthanasia. In a way, Singer takes the blame that people thrust on him for his views and shifts it to make it seem that the baby being killed wouldn’t have cared one way or another about being killed because it “isn’t capable of understanding the choice between life and death.” Singer also presents the argument that because an infant has never been aware of self-consciousness, rationality or autonomy, they are not normal.
In which case, killing the infant cannot be compared to someone who is in fact “normal.” No matter how Singer feels, however, there will always be someone to conflict ideas. Harriet McBryde Johnson was the person to argue with Peter Singer. She was a woman who, with strength and optimism, lived life in a wheelchair and had felt that Singer’s logic was flawed. Johnson even describes a time when she was somewhat forced to meet with Singer face to face. She describes the encounter as if she were meeting Satan himself, stating, “I hesitate. I shouldn’t shake hands with the Evil One.” Whether or not her statement was exaggerated, Johnson seems to be the one with a flawed argument.
Even though Peter Singer doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with everyone he meets, he seems to not let his personal feelings of someone cloud his judgment. Instead, Singer is able to present his facts, strongly make his claim, and provide evidence for how he feels. If personal morals were not an issue, Singer would probably be able to convince the world that he is right simply on the grounds of proper evidence. Johnson, on the other hand, states her claims and then argues that fetuses are people too, barely adding evidence.
This in turn makes Johnson’s argument somewhat flakey. All in all, Peter Singer was able to not only describe how he felt about the subject of aborting disabled fetuses, but was able to give facts that almost make his argument plausible. Harriet Johnson, however, wasn’t able to counter Singer as well as he had started, even though morality was a huge factor in Johnson’s argument. Again, the answer to whether or not aborting a fetus just to make life easier on everyone else can’t be as simple as yes or no, simply due to arguments. The winner of the better argument, however, has to be Singer due to his ability to support his claim so well, without showing any sign of disrespect to someone he argues with.
Johnson, Harriet McBryde. “Unspeakable Conversations.” NYTimes. The New York Times Company. 16 Feb. 2003. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. Singer, Peter. “Taking Life: Humans.” Practical Ethics. n.p. n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2012
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Topic: Abortion: Right or Wrong?
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