Clare Macwurter was twenty-two years old chronologically, but mentally she remained a child. As a result of her mother’s prolonged and difficult labor, Clare had been deprived of an adequate blood-oxygen supply during her birth. The consequence was that she suffered irreversible brain damage. Clare enjoyed life and was generally a happy person. She couldn’t read, but she liked listening to music and watching television, although she could rarely understand the stories. She was physically attractive and, with the hepp of her parents, she could care for herself.
Clare was also interested in sex. When she was seventeen, she and a fellow student at the special school they attended had been caught having intercourse. Clare’s parents had been told about the incident, but after Clare left the school the following year, they took no special precaution to ensure that Clare would not become sexually involved with anyone. After all, she stayed at home with her mother every day, and, besides, it was a matter they didn’t much like to think about. The Macwurters were both surprised and upset when Clare became pregnant. At first they couldn’t imagine how it could have happened. They recalled that on several occasions Clare had been sent to stay at the house of Mr. Macwurter’s brother and his wife while Mrs. Macwurter went shopping.
John Macwurter at first denied that he had anything to do with Clare’s pregnancy. But during the course of a long and painful conversation with his brother, he admitted that he had had sexual relations with Clare. “I wasn’t wholly to blame,” John Macwurter said. “I mean, I know I shouldn’t have done it. But still, she was interested in it too. I didn’t really rape her. Nothing like that.”
The Macwurters were at a loss about what they should do. The physician they consulted told them that Clare would probably have a perfectly normal baby. But of course Clare couldn’t really take care of herself, much less a baby. She was simply unfit to be a mother. Mrs. Macwurter, for her part, was not eager to assume the additional responsibilities of caring for another child. Mr. Macwurter would be eligible to retire in four more years and the couple had been looking forward to selling their house and moving back to the small town in Oklahoma where thy had first meet and then married. The money they had managed to save, plus insurance and a sale of their property, would permit them to place Clare in a long-term care facility after their deaths. Being responsible for another child would both ruin their plans and jeopardize Clare’s future well-being.
“I never though I would say such a thing,” Mrs. Macwurter told her husband, “but I think we should arrange for Clare to have an abortion.”
“That’s killing,” Mr. Macwurter said.
“I’m not so sure it is. I don’t really know. But even if it is, I think it’s the best thing to do.”
Mrs. Macwurter made the arrangements with Clare’s physician for an abortion to be performed. When Mr. Macwurter asked his brother to pay for the operation, John Macwurter refused. He explained that he was opposed to abortion and so it would not be right for him to provide money to be used in that way.
1. Reading Comprehension
For this case of Clare’s pregnancy what would each of the following authors hold and WHY : Provide a paragraph on each explaining their positions and use some quotations.
Find descriptions of their positions here:
A) Sarah Jones- Abortion Is Morally Good
Abortion Is Morally Good
By Sarah Jones
Abortion, Bill Clinton once said, should be safe, legal, and rare. The quote is quintessential Clinton: liberal, but not too liberal; feminism moderated by a touch of good old common sense. You can still buy bumper stickers with his quote on it, if you want to tell the world that women should control their own bodies — in the right circumstances. Clinton hasn’t been president since 2001, and pro-choice advocates have disavowed such timid language in the years since his departure. But the notion that abortion is sad, a thing to be avoided and disliked, persists. We’re all pro-life, Alyssa Milano told Chris Cuomo, not long after Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a bill that would, if it goes into effect, ban abortions after six weeks.
It’s unwise, probably, to pay much attention to Milano. Her fame does not make her a spokesperson for feminism. But her opinion is not as unusual among liberals as it should be, and that makes her difficult to ignore. Consider the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, now fundraising for Representative Dan Lipinski as if he’s a regular incumbent. But despite being a Democrat, Lipinski vehemently opposes abortion rights. The party is working against its most important pro-choice allies in a district that a more progressive candidate could realistically win.
Were I still Evangelical, and still longed to end abortion, I’d have many reasons to celebrate. When your enemies pick up your arguments and tolerate your allies in their midst, you can be relatively confident that you’ve achieved the social and political dominance that you’ve worked toward for years. Milano and the DCCC have walked directly into a trap that abortion opponents set for them, and they don’t even seem to realize what they’ve done. Anything less but the prioritization of women over the pregnancies they carry cedes ground the left cannot afford to lose.
When abortion ends a wanted pregnancy, it is one grief-sodden moment in a series of tragedies. But the assertion that nobody wants an abortion, ever, directly affirms anti-choice narratives. Though abortion opponents do try to deploy science to bolster their objections, their position ultimately rests on philosophical convictions about personhood and the beginning of human life. Life begins at conception, they believe; from that moment, the fetus in the womb is a person with a right to exist. Milano doesn’t seem to share these views, nor are they the views the Democratic Party has written into its platform. But in rhetoric and in deed, they lend credence to right-wing arguments against abortion. If we’re all pro-life, and the Democratic tent has room for Dan Lipinski, the morality of abortion becomes an open question. Why dread the termination of unfeeling cells, or campaign for an anti-choice man, if abortion is really so integral to the liberation of women? The liberal stance on abortion rights looks equivocal, just when conservatives are as certain as they’ve ever been.
Whatever cracks appear in the anti-abortion movement now, with the Alabama law making headlines, are superficial. Abortion opponents have never been entirely unified on a legal prescription for ending abortion, or on the necessity of punishing patients along with providers, but they are of one mind on the same basic premise: Abortion kills a person. Pat Robertson, who believes that you should pray over anything you buy from a thrift store because demons can hide in the fabric, says that the Alabama bill is “ill-considered.” But Robertson has also committed his one wild and precious life to the fight against abortion. Though his extreme idiocy makes him an oddity, he isn’t the only abortion opponent to suggest that the Alabama bill goes a bit too far. It’s gauche, maybe, to say the quiet part loud, which is what the bill does. Alabama Republicans simply took the anti-abortion movement at its word. If abortion kills a baby, then it is a great evil. The law recognizes no exceptions for rape survivors who murder children. Child murder is child murder, no matter who wields the knife. The anti-abortion movement built this bill, and liberals can’t afford to help them evade responsibility.
Alabama’s abortion ban contains no exceptions for rape and incest. It is written to end a mass murder which has, it says, destroyed “more than three times the number who were killed in German death camps, Chinese purges, Stalin’s gulags, Cambodian killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined.” Its architects admit that it is designed to challenge Roe v. Wade, and that gambit that could pay off now that Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. If Roe falls, or is weakened into inefficacy, we know what follows. We know, from the history of pre-Roe America and the imprisonment of women in other right-wing governments, that women will suffer. Some will die, from pregnancy complications or from the back-alley abortions that many, the poor especially, will inevitably seek. Whether an abortion ban criminally penalizes women or not, the outcome punishes them all the same.
I don’t believe that female pain is a policy goal for all abortion opponents. But they do weigh the suffering of women against the prospective life of the fetus, and favor the fetus in the end. “The imaginary futures — the ‘personhoods’ — of the unborn have taken moral precedence over the adult women in whose bodies they grow,” Rebecca Traister wrote for the New Republic, back in 2014. To abortion opponents, the potential person seems to be the one true innocent in the world. The woman carrying it, though, is a different matter altogether. She can make mistakes. Maybe she skipped her pill. Maybe she didn’t take a pill at all. Maybe she was young, unmarried, and sexually active when churches would rather she be abstinent. Mistakes have consequences.
I’ve never needed an abortion. But I’ve been in an abusive relationship, and I think, still, of all the ways it could have been worse for me. I could have gotten pregnant, and I think that would have killed me. I was a 22-year-old student at a Christian university that expelled students for having sex outside the holy bonds of hetero matrimony. I was suicidally depressed, and when I look back at myself across the valley of a decade, I’m still surprised to be alive. I think of the people I knew then, and how so many of them would have told me to carry a baby to term even if it destroyed me. I think of the words God wrote on the walls of sinful Belshazzar’s feast hall — words of judgement, words to bring down a king. Mene, mene, tekel upharsin. God numbered you and found you wanting, and will bring you to an end. Pregnancy would have been a punishment, not a miracle.
Nothing I lived through will convince an Alabama Republican to change his mind. To them, nothing I’ve done in my 31 years on the Earth — none of my accomplishments, none of my happiness — elevates my worth above that of an embryo. There are stories bleaker and more violent than mine, and they won’t persuade Alabama Republicans, either. There is only one just and moral response to the anti-abortion movement, and that is to strike down its arguments in their entirety. A fetus is a possibility, not a person. While abortion can be the tragic end to a wanted pregnancy, it’s never murder. The opposite position is extreme, and a threat to the health and safety of women. There is no compromise, not on the personhood of women. You can’t find middle ground. Invite them into your big tent, and you threaten the most vulnerable people inside it.
B) Bad arguments: twenty-five years after ‘Roe.'(abortion arguments)
Author/s: Sidney Callahan
COMMONWEAL Issue: Jan 30, 1998
Damn, damn, damn–to quote Rex Harrison playing Henry Higgins–I’ve let a friend persuade me to review a new book on abortion. Unfortunately, after thirty years, I can only echo Eliza Doolittle’s “there’s not a word I haven’t heard.”
Most of the time in these debates I seek common ground, but goaded by the twenty-fifth anniversary of Roe v. Wade and recent rationalizations of partial-birth abortion, I’m going to give way to spleen. Here are some of the worst arguments on abortion I’ve ever heard–and to be fair about it, I include both sides. I’ll maintain anonymity as to my sources; full documentation can be provided on request.
I’ll start with a few of the awful arguments from prolife circles. Abortion is wrong, I’ve been told, because “There are little souls in heaven waiting to come down to earth and abortion refuses them a chance for life and happiness.” Since I don’t believe in the pre-existence of souls, I can hardly worry about frustrating yearnings to be incarnate. Nor am I moved by purported dialogues in which embryos, or “babies,” are depicted as saying, “Please, mommy, please, don’t abort me.” This is a pitiable ploy, if not an outright pathetic fallacy. It also seems presumptuous to assume that difficult circumstances in life can be solved with the pious claim that “each baby is born with a loaf of bread tucked under its arm; God will provide.” Obviously, certain folks on the prolife side can err in sentimental exaggeration or pathologies of hope.
Other problematic prolife arguments, made by a few extremists, are less forgivable, because they’re dangerous. To identify abortion with murder, for instance, or with genocidal holocausts, is incendiary hyperbole that can trigger violence in the mentally unhinged. “Murder” in my understanding is constituted by a malicious and calculated intention to kill a human being recognized as such. And in genocidal “holocausts” the goal is to wipe out whole races, whole families, whole sects or tribes by any illegal or violent means. Legalized abortion on request is bad enough, as a dreadful practice of unjust killing, without rhetorically upping the ante.
On the other hand, horrible prochoice arguments can be even harder to take. I’ve heard a lot of them in debates with both stars and footsoldiers of the radical feminist abortion “rights” movement. Abortion is said to be morally good because “Men have always killed, so why shouldn’t women be able to?” Or, “Abortion is a sacramental moment for a woman.” The sacredness referred to seems to be the woman’s assertion of self in taking control of her life. Of course, to prolife ears this sounds just like Raskolnikov’s act of killing that bothersome old woman in order to assert his freedom from conventional morality.
A self-identified Catholic in another abortion debate justified society’s preservation of seals and eagles but refused protection to fetal life, since “humans are a renewable resource.” You can always have another, and too many people in the world are having far too many. Another assertion was made that no woman’s decision for abortion could ever be morally
More recently, I’m meeting New Age arguments for abortion. One beautiful young woman on a TV program assured me that it “was not her karma to be aborted,” so presumably those who go down the tubes just don’t have the right spiritual stuff. Another opponent tells me that “old souls,” waiting to begin another cycle of reincarnation, are much too sophisticated to put up with the boring nine months in a dark confining womb, so they wait for birth to join up with their new bodies. Thus if you abort you really aren’t doing any harm.
This fellow also claims that there are research studies that show that if a woman and her spiritual counselor convince a waiting soul that this is not a good time for her to have a child, a stillbirth can be induced–thereby solving problem pregnancies. This particular encounter made me renew my subscription to The Skeptical Inquirer, a magazine put out by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation for Claims of the Paranormal. Most of this crowd appear to be secular materialists, but they can be allies against junk science.
Back in the mainstream feminist pro-abortion movement I find an argument that plays down a woman’s choice and focuses on the need for a woman’s consent to pregnancy. If consent is absent, the woman has a right to kill in self-defense, just as she would against the assault of a full-grown person. The fetus is identified as an active aggressive agent; the operative image is fetus as rapist. Suggestions that a woman might complete her pregnancy and then offer the baby for adoption should be met with the counterargument that no one should ask a rape victim to wait until the rape is over before taking defensive action.
Pregnancy without consent is seen as a form of rape and slavery. Thus the state should permit and fund abortions so that every woman can be protected. After all, public tax money is used by the police and legal system to protect other citizens against other acts of aggression, invasion, and assault.
Needless to say, in this argument human biology counts for little. A woman’s pregnancy has little to do with her fertility or with sexual intercourse, since it is only the active implantation of a fertilized ovum that causes a woman to become pregnant. (A rather truncated concept of causation operates here, that aptly matches the narrowed version of moral responsibility.) The fact that each woman’s pregnancy is creating a unique new human life is also dismissed as irrelevant.
In this argument, women should emulate “the bad Samaritan” who does not allow altruism to be forced upon her. The emotions of maternal bonding and feelings of kinship are discounted because this approach is blind to the altruistic instincts of our common human nature. Only individual autonomous will, freedom, and control are exalted. Women should take up the macho virtues of self-defensive gunplay, “shooting aggressors in the stomach,” if need be. Back to self-assertive sacraments of violence. “Non serviam,” cries Stephen Daedalus, Joyce’s hero (echoing Lucifer), and proceeds to smash out the lights. When the great refusals reign, dark destruction follows.
But like it or not, embryos are human, destroying human life is morally wrong, and humanity has to struggle against the violence of the jungle. We have less to fear from excesses of sentimental gush than from cold ideologies of autonomous control.
C)Title: Thomson, the Right to Life, and Partial-Birth Abortion
Author: Peter Alward
Publication Information: Journal of Medical Ethics, 28, no.2 (April
2002), pp. 99-101
Judith Thomson’s article “A Defense of Abortion” concludes that termination of a pregnancy that resulted without a woman’s consent is morally permissible, even if a fetus is a person with a full right to life. Peter Alward who initially agreed with Thomson’s conclusion for along time, however, later finds a problem with her conclusion. He
presents a series of cases and analogies to prove that Thomson’s argument does not “yield a ground for robust right to an abortion”.
Alward uses an example in which Sarah needs a respirator and a dialysis machine as bare minimums to survive. Sarah is entitled to have a dialysis machine but respirator belongs to Fred. In this analogy, Sarah
is the fetus, Fred is the pregnant woman, dialysis machine consists ofbody organs of the fetus, and respirator is the womb. If Fred did not consent to the use of his respirator by Sarah, as per Thomson’s view, Fred can take back his respirator. She says that respirator is Fred’sproperty and he has a full right to his property. Not so fast, says
Alward. While exercising his right to the respirator, Fred should not violate Sarah’s right to her property, the dialysis machine. Since right to life outweighs right to property, only time Fred can ask for his property is when his life is at stake. And according to Thomson, Fred can use any method to retrieve his respirator in self-defense. However,
Alward says Fred can detach the respirator off Sarah only when, in doing so he does not violate Sarah’s right to life. Dialysis machine consists of Sarah’s body organs, including her brain. Therefore, the only procedure Fred can use to get his respirator back in self-defense is by detaching Sarah from respirator while leaving her connected to the
With the above analogy, Alward proves that Partial Birth Abortion is morally impermissible. In this so- called ICD procedure, physicians first dilate the cervix, partially remove the fetus from womb (feet first), insert a sharp object into the back of the fetus’s head, then insert a vacuum tube through the hole and suck the brain out. This
contracts the fetus’s head and physicians can then easily remove it. Alward argues that mind of the fetus is something that fetus needs to survive and entirely belongs to it. Alward says even to save the pregnant woman’s life, we cannot just use any other method of abortion. If there is an option to save the fetus by removing it through caesarean section and placing in an incubator, we have to choose that alternative. If that results in the death of the fetus, then it is morally permissible.
Alward then brings up two more points worth discussing in favor of a fetus’s right to life. First, if a pregnant woman refrains to have an abortion for more than five months, she may have tacitly consented to the fetus’s continued use of her body. Secondly, carrying a fetus to term may require “only minimally decent samaritanism of the pregnant
Alward concludes that, “if the pregnant woman’s life is not at stake, then, no procedure which causes the fetus’s death by any means except its removal from the woman’s body is morally permissible”. It means that Partial Birth Abortion or any similar type pf procedures used in late term abortion is simply not permissible. Alward poses a serious challenge to those who are relying on Thomson’s conclusions for their pro-choice stand.