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Abortion and Unborn Human Life, Second Edition

Abortion and Unborn Human Life, Second Edition

Patrick Lee
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    Abortion and Unborn Human Life, Second Edition
    Book Description:

    Patrick Lee surveys the main philosophical arguments in favor of the moral permissibility of abortion and refutes them point by point. In a calm and philosophically sophisticated manner, he presents a powerful case for the pro-life position and a serious challenge to all of the main philosophical arguments on behalf of the pro-choice positio

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1806-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. ix-xii)
  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    Several questions arise in the controversy about abortion. Some of these questions pertain primarily to public policy, for example, whether abortion should be illegal, or whether any abortions should be governmentally funded. These questions are distinct from, but obviously related to, the primary moral question: Is the choice to perform an abortion, to procure one, or to help someone procure one, ever morally justified?¹ This last question is the one I am concerned with in this book.

    The prima facie case against abortion is fairly clear-cut and can be expressed in a simple argument:

    Intentionally killing an innocent person always...

  3. 1 Do Unborn Human Beings Become Persons after Birth?
    (pp. 8-46)

    The position examined in this chapter could be called “the no-person argument.” This is the position that, while what is killed in an abortion is a human being, it is not a person and therefore abortion is not morally wrong. Since bearers of rights are called “persons,” the same position could be expressed this way: the right to life is not acquired until after birth. The most developed and detailed defense of this position is by Michael Tooley, and so I will refer frequently to his work. Moreover, Tooley’s arguments for this position have evolved, partly because of criticism, over...

  4. 2 Do Unborn Human Beings Become Persons during Gestation?
    (pp. 47-70)

    In the last chapter I criticized the position that the human organism becomes a person only after birth. Its proponents grant that every person has full moral rights, but they require some developed psychological capacity in a thing for it to be classified as a person. In this chapter I examine and criticize the position that the fetus becomes a person some time between conception and birth. Usually, proponents of this position also hold that the fetus only gradually becomes a full person, that is, that there are degrees of personhood or moral standing. So, according to this view, while...

  5. 3 When Do Individual Human Beings Come to Be?
    (pp. 71-107)

    Having argued in chapter 2 that human beings are intrinsically valuable from the time that they come to be and in chapter 1 that, since they are essentially physical organisms, human beings come to be at the time at which the human physical organism comes to be, in this chapter I address the question: When does the human organism come to be? I will argue that the human organism comes to be at conception, that is, fertilization. I will first indicate in section I why biologists usually place the beginning of a new human individual’s life at fertilization, and in...

  6. 4 Is Abortion Justified as Nonintentional Killing?
    (pp. 108-139)

    In this chapter I examine the argument that abortions, or many abortions, are morally right because they are not intentional killing, or, as it is often described, indirect, as opposed to direct, killing. As I shall explain, this is an accurate way of describing the positions of, for example, Judith Jarvis Thomson and Martha Brandt Bolton, which were further developed by David Boonin and Margaret Little. Along the way I shall also reply to the argument that killing the fetus is justified because the fetus is an aggressor, a denial that abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent person....

  7. 5 Consequentialist Arguments
    (pp. 140-164)

    I argued in chapters 1 through 3 that abortion is the killing of a human person. In chapter 4 I argued that abortion is usually intentional killing, and that if it is not, it is still morally wrong. One might grant, however, that abortion is the intentional killing of a human person, but still hold that sometimes it is morally right, as a means to avoid bad consequences. Almost all moral theories hold that it is at least prima facie wrong intentionally to kill innocent persons. So, if one holds that it is in this or that case morally right,...