Explain how a follower of natural law might approach the issues surrounding Abortion.
Natural Law, as outlined and enforced by Thomas Aquinas, says that every living thing has a purpose, and that every solution to a dilemma and every action can be solved by reasoning, which will gain you ultimate happiness. This Is linked with Aristotle’s idea that everyone has a specific purpose, and the Primary Precepts can help you to achieve your purpose. This is key knowledge to help with the understanding of Natural Law follower’s views about abortion.
Human reasoning in any dilemma or problematic situation should be applied to the Primary Precepts of Natural Law. The two main precepts that are concerned in Natural Law with abortion are The Preservation of Life and Reproduction. Generally, conforming to Natural Law, the right action to take would be one that conforms to all the precepts, however with abortion it is not quite as simple.
The first Precept to consider when thinking about abortion from a Natural Law follower’s state of mind would be Reproduction. The precept of Reproduction states that it is always right to encourage reproduction, and most nearly always wrong to prevent reproduction. Applying this to abortion would result in a follower of Natural Law believing that abortion is wrong. This is because the act of aborting a foetus, or baby, is preventing the act of reproduction, and therefore going against one of Aquinas’ Primary Precepts; Preservation of Life. Natural Law does not consider the people involved or most of the consequences, but more on the act of abortion itself. Reproduction as known is a Primary Precept of Natural Law, and because the act of abortion stops procreation then it is frowned upon by Natural Law followers.
The act of abortion can also disturb the precept of Preservation of Life. This precept states that it is always right to help save or maintain a life, and always wrong to try and intentionally. However this is only if one believes that life begins at conception. Abortion involves taking the life of a foetus that you believe to be a human life, which in turn act against the precept of the Preservation of Life, as you not preserving life, but taking one away.
However, there are a few exceptions. Aquinas’ Doctrine of Double effect applies these exceptions. Aquinas saw the precepts as absolutely true for every single being, and that using our reasoning can bring us to the right solution in every situation. However there are times when in order to conform to one precept, we must decide to act against another.
For example; there is a pregnant woman, however for medical reasons carrying on with the pregnancy would end in her death. She has two choices, one; have the baby and end her own life or two; have an abortion and save her own life. The first solution would go against the precept of the Preservation of Life, where the second would go against both the Preservation of Life and Reproduction. In this case it is okay for a person to come to a suitable solution through reasoning, as whatever happens there will be bad consequences. However, this is only acceptable if the bad consequence is but an unwanted side effect of the action with good intent.
All in all, abortion acts against two of the Primary Precepts of Natural Law, which clearly makes it a bad action. Even though there are a few exceptions, these are only in the worst of situations, and on the whole, abortion is entirely wrong according to Natural Law.
‘A foetus is not a person’ Discuss.
There are many different opinions and arguments as to when a Foetus becomes a person, and these all play different but key roles into solving many huge arguments. To hope to solve this argument is absurd, however the different viewpoints can be stated and analysed to find the strongest.
One way in which to argue whether or not a Foetus is a person is to apply it to the criteria of Personhood. These criteria are suggested by Mary Anne Warren, and are Sentience, Emotionality, Reason, Ability to Communicate, Self-awareness and Moral agency. Conforming to these criteria would mean the a Foetus cannot be classed as a person, as it does not fit into any of these criteria.
However, later on in the development of a Foetus it begins to fit into some of the criteria, such as Sentience. Could this mean that a foetus slowly becomes a person? Mary Anne Warren suggests that a Foetus is a potential person, but says that it does not have a right to life, which really does not solve any arguments as to whether or not a Foetus is a person.
It is also argued that a potential life, as proposed by Mary Anne Warren, does not have any rights or privileges. This would also mean that a Foetus does not have access to human rights, and the right to life. So that begs the question, if something does not have access to human rights, is it a person?