'The mother's right to life should always overrule the rights of her unborn child.' Assess this view. (15 MARKS)
Interests can conflict, leaving a moral problem centred on the question of mother and baby equality. There is huge debate about who's right should overrule the other. Some believe the women have a greater right to life, whereas others argue the unborn child does.
Firstly, there are many who believe the mothers right to live should always overrule the rights of her unborn child. A pregnancy and a growing foetus have an enormous impact on the mother. Not only does it cause psychological and emotional changes, it also places the mother's body under huge pressure and has ...view middle of the document...
But, they argue, it's not yet a conscious person and hence not yet inherently precious. In Roe v. Wade in the US, the Supreme Court ruled that women have a constitutional right to abortion. The court said that a foetus is not a person but “potential life” and thus does not have constitutional rights of its own.
Judith Jarvis Thompson uses the violinist analogy to support the right of the mother to decide to have an abortion. The violinist (foetus) has the right to life. However this right is not greater than the person's right to freedom. The violinist has no right over the person's body, and therefore the person is morally justified in leaving the hospital- just as a mother has the right to terminate her pregnancy. The foetus threatens the mother, in terms of increased risk, and so abortion is a defensive measurement against unacceptable dangers. Thompson uses the example of a cardiac condition which, should the pregnancy be allowed to continue, would place the mother in real danger. Thompson argues that it cannot be seriously suggested that a person must be stopped from saving their own life for the life of another. This highlights that Thompson believes the rights of the mother overrule the rights of the unborn child.
Mary Anne Warren argues that unlike foetuses, women are already persons. They are already conscious being with thoughts, feeling, memories, hopes and awareness. Therefore, the mother should be given greater right to life than the unborn child. Furthermore, Peter Singer argues that killing a foetus is not the same as killing a person. Therefore, the mother has greater rights than the unborn.
The double effect principle argues that actions to save the mother's life but which also lead to abortion are moral. For example, in an ectopic pregnancy. The fallopian tube is removed and the embryo dies, thus saving the mother. In this situation both lives cannot simultaneously be saved, therefore saving the mother’s life becomes the primary aim, although this has a double effect, to save the mother's life kills the unborn child. In this situation the mother’s life is seen more important than the unborn child, as the unborn child is a threat to her life, therefore the mother has a right to save her life. The intention is not to kill, it is doing evil (killing the foetus) for a good reason (saving the...