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Is it Moral to Have an Abortion?


Professor: Ginger Lee

July 5, 2021

Is it moral to have an abortion?

Part 1: Ethical Question

Our society remains divided between right or wrong and moral or evil regarding abortions. The question surrounding abortion has led to the evolution of two strictness spectrums of either abortion condemning or abortion supporting groups. This variation in stances poses the question, under what conditions, if any, should abortion be morally permissible? I will discuss how utilitarian moral theories have analyzed the moral significance of abortion.

Part 2: Introduction

Abortion has traditionally been a controversial public issue in the United States. Although abortion was legalized in 1973, American society is still polarized on the morality of abortion (Baker, 2020). This legal provision has served as a foundation to see how laws, ethics, and politics can be rightly combined. The ethical debate surrounding abortion is essential because it presents a case model that sheds some light on the dimension of bioethics. In this paper, I will show how utilitarians argue that suffering that a woman might experience by bearing a child in situations where severe health problems outweigh the outcome of permitting abortion. This ethical theory provides a concrete answer to the ‘is it moral to have an abortion? The rhetoric of this ethical discussion lies in the intrinsic logic that some existential events, particularly problematic situations, necessitate actions that bring positive contributions. The theory rejects the societal rules or commands dictating what is right and wrong and focuses on the effects of actions on individual and societal well-being.

Part 3: Explanation of the Ethical Theory

Utilitarianism offers an account of moral value that emphasizes achieving a particular outcome, often understood as greatest pleasure (happiness) and absence of pain (sadness). Although utilitarianism does not offer absolute value to human life or offers a clear answer to moral questions about abortion, it links the morality of abortion to different circumstances. Notably, utilitarians understand moral goodness in optimal outcomes and perceive the right action as bringing that outcome. For instance, they argue that abortion is allowed to any woman who profoundly resents her pregnancy. Utilitarians maintain that unwanted unborn babies have significant negative consequences on society. Consequently, if bringing an unborn child to life make life worse by increasing the number of bad things such as unhappiness and pain, then it is not non-moral.

Utilitarianism also supports abortion where they suspect that a mother or the child will undoubtedly suffer from severe malformation that would cause a severe disability, both physically and mentally. If pregnancy is associated with circumstances such as rape, severe fetal abnormality, and financial instability that could damage the mother’s welfare, then abortion would maximize her welfare. A child born under these situations will make the parents become devastated by causing the abnormality. The consequentialist dimension starts with the assumption that normal parents want normal children. Consequently, abortion would be less dramatic and easier to bear in existential situations that result in severe health problems, either to a mother or child. On a societal level, such parents will encounter discrimination and other dramatic consequences linked to abnormality associated with that child born under the circumstance. For instance, a child may lack a range of fundamental skills, including reading, writing, eating, or walking, leading to burdens that society cannot carry. In addition, such a child has limited chances of living in a world of ordinary people because he cannot understand them. They may commit further serious consequences such as drug or alcohol abuse, rape, murder, suicide, or violence in some cases.

Part 4: Application of the Ethical Theory

Act utilitarianism helps discuss abortion because it judges individual cases on their own merits. This means the abortion decision is up to the mother and the negative consequences on her life. According to Nathan (n.d), the primary purpose of morality is to enhance life by increasing the number of good things (happiness and pleasure and reducing or avoiding bad things. Instead of focusing on moral codes, rules, principles, or systems that consist of commands and orders given by leaders, utilitarians justify morality based on the positive contribution of actions to human and non-human beings. From a consequentialist perspective, abortion is permissible in problematic situations that could damage a mother’s life. One such challenging situation is rape. When a mother becomes pregnant without her will, there is a high probability that is dealing with the situation will be devastating. For instance, a child born from rape would land an extremely hostile environment because their father is a criminal offender and their mother is traumatized. These two parents cannot show their children parental affection because they are experiencing abnormal emotional feelings. The preferable and less severe consequence is an abortion of the child than unwanted pregnancy resulting in trauma that the mother must carry through.

Utilitarianism theories also justify abortion as morally right when the fetus of the mother suffers adverse health problems. McCartney & Parent (2015) suggest that the utilitarian moral principle is founded on believing that everyone prefers pleasure over pain. Consequently, they weigh the amount of pain and pleasure in situations where abortion is permitted compared to the amount of pleasure and pain where abortion is forbidden. This implies that we must consider whether the future life of the fetus and that of the mother will be happy. For instance, pregnancy-associated with severe health conditions like fetal abnormality can produce a child walking, eating, or taking defects. It might also be the case that carrying the fetus is the suffering itself because of the abnormalities. Because the core moral principle of utilitarianism is the effects of actions, someone using this theory would conclude that the direct suffering of the mother and fetus and the resulting difficult future life make abortion morally right.


Baker, C.N. (2020). The History of Abortion Law in the United States. https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book-excerpts/health-article/u-s-abortion-history/

McCartney, S., & Parent, R. (2015). Ethics in law enforcement. https://opentextbc.ca/ethicsinlawenforcement/chapter/2-2-utilitarian-ethics/

Nathanson, H. (n.d). Act and Rule Utilitarianism. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, IEP. https://iep.utm.edu/util-a-r/


You have to narrow this down.  If you must keep a completely wide open net, then you must be much more concrete, but you cannot cover all that territory in a short paper. 

(1.28 / 2.00); : Introduces the Topic and Question 

Below Expectations – Attempts to introduces the topic and question; however, does not implement any applicable instructor feedback from the Week 1 assignment, and/or the introduction is significantly underdeveloped.   This is excessively wordy but does not provide clear information. 


Your introduction should focus more on setting out the topic and scope of the discussion in a way that clearly establishes what exactly you will be discussing and why it is ethically significant, and provides any necessary context such as the background, current state of affairs, definitions of key terms, and so on. You want to try to do this in a way that is as neutral as possible and avoids assumptions, rhetorical questions, and the like. In other words, you should try to construct an introduction to the topic that could be an introduction to a paper defending the opposite position from yours, at least until you get to the part of the intro that establishes your own view.  

(1.92 / 3.00); : Explains the Ethical Theory of Utilitarianism, Deontology, or Virtue Ethics 

Below Expectations – Attempts to explain the ethical theory of utilitarianism, deontology, or virtue ethics; however, the explanation is significantly underdeveloped and this has to be organized more effectively to meet the requirements for this paper. 


The explanation of utilitarian theory was not as thorough, precise, or accurate as it needed to be. You needed to explain the historical background, including the views of Jeremy Bentham or John Stuart Mill; the core principle of the theory, such as Mill’s greatest happiness principle or something similar; and a brief, general explanation of how the theory and its core moral principle applies to moral questions, using an example different from the issue that is the main focus of your paper. For example, you could have explained utilitarian theory by discussing how it would apply to an issue like lying to a friend for the sake of the greater good. The core of this theory is that our actions should strive to bring about the greatest overall good, which involves explaining the benefits and harms that would result from one action or policy and what the overall utility of that would be and comparing that with the same analysis of alternative actions or policies. One or more of these elements was inaccurate or underdeveloped, so you should return to Chapter 3 of the textbook to ensure that you have a clear sense of this kind of approach to ethical questions, and please let me know if you are having trouble grasping the ideas. 

(2.64 / 3.00); : Applies the Selected Ethical Theory to the Ethical Question 

This needs more effective organization for clarity. 

(0.57 / 0.75); : Written Communication: Control of Syntax and Mechanics

Basic - Displays basic comprehension of syntax and mechanics, such as spelling and grammar. Written work contains a few errors which may slightly distract the reader.


The paper contains a number of problems with the writing that make it difficult for the reader to understand your intent and analysis. Ideas cannot be communicated effectively if they are poorly written. The Writing Center offers resources to assist in developing writing skills.

(0.66 / 0.75); : Written Communication: APA Formatting

Proficient - Exhibits APA formatting throughout the paper. However, layout contains a few minor errors. 

(0.50 / 0.50); : Written Communication: Word Requirement

Distinguished - The length of the paper is equivalent to the required number of words.

(0.64 / 1.00); : Written Communication: Resource Requirement

No scholarly sources were used, as required. 

Overall Score: 8.97 / 12.00 Overall Grade: 8.97

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