Abortion and the Categorical Imperative

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By NatashaO
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Abortion and the Categorical Imperative: Refusing an abortion to a pregnant woman who does not wish to bear a child violates the principle that one must always treat other human beings as an ends, never only as a means. By refusing abortion, the pregnant woman would be treated as a means, and even if the fetus were considered human, it would be treated as a means as well. Denying access to abortion treats the pregnant woman as a means. Many arguments against abortion involve a concern for protecting the rights of the fetus. But by prohibiting the pregnant woman from having an abortion, she is being treated as a means by which to bring another human being into existence. Telling her that she has no choice but to have the baby is essentially treating her as a vessel by which a life is to be born out of, rather than a human being with the right to decide whether or not she should bring a new life into the world. Callahan discussed how embryonic life can only exist from a woman’s participation in the genetic inheritance of the human species as a whole (1. Callahan, Reader, pg. 17). In other words, the woman’s baby is her contribution to the genetic inheritance of the human species as a whole. Callahan would argue that in having the baby regardless of whether she wanted it or not, she is acting according to the categorical imperative in that she is acting for humankind and not in anticipation of her own well-being or cost-benefit (2. Callahan, Reader, pg. 17). However, according to Kant, if an action is good only as a means to something in particular- in this case, for furthering the genetic inheritance of the human species- it is a hypothetical imperative (3. SPE reader, pg. 57-58). What keeps denying abortion to women from being a categorical imperative is that, even though one could rationalize that the woman having the baby is good for humankind,…...

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