A professor of bioethics discusses the ethics of abortion. Three absolute principles from the tradition of Western moral philosophy constitute the ethical basis for treatment of unwanted pregnancy. The principle of individual freedom guarantees the right to freedom of decision and action. The principle of the common good defines as morally correct the policy or action that most benefits the majority, and the principle of justice establishes that all individuals should have equal access to needed goods and services. Each of these principles is discussed as it relates to abortion, and potential conflicts and controversies are assessed in accordance with the principles. The three principles require application of the moral mandate of tolerance for the beliefs and practices of others, a necessity for coexistence in a pluralistic world. A series of natural and social rights may also be invoked, notably the right to decide freely and responsibly the number and timing of children and the right of access to the information and materials making this possible, which were affirmed in the 1974 World Population Conference at Bucharest in a statement signed by representatives of 136 governments. Universal agreement on ethical matters is unlikely to occur in a plural world. Different persons may recognize different priorities when ethical principles are in competition. The most difficult conflict is probably that between the rights of the woman and those of the fetus. This conflict differs from most others in that the legitimacy of the fetus as a bearer of rights may be questioned. Extremist positions whether motivated by religious or political factors are based on dogmas or doctrines that resist rational analysis. Applying the three principles to the problem of unwanted pregnancy, it is concluded that women have a natural right to reproductive freedom and a social right to family planning and abortion services.
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||Profamilia : planificacion, poblacion y desarollo|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 1 1993|
ASJC Scopus subject areas