Abortion and the Right to Life - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

IE. The Right to have One's Life Saved

There is no such right as there is no corresponding moral obligation or duty to save a life. This "right" is a demonstration ofrepparttar aforementioned muddle betweenrepparttar 132655 morally commendable, desirable and decent ("ought", "should") andrepparttar 132656 morally obligatory,repparttar 132657 result of other people's rights ("must").

In some countries,repparttar 132658 obligation to save life is legally codified. But whilerepparttar 132659 law ofrepparttar 132660 land may create a LEGAL right and corresponding LEGAL obligations - it does not always or necessarily create a moral or an ethical right and corresponding moral duties and obligations.

IF. The Right to Save One's Own Life

The right to self-defence is a subset ofrepparttar 132661 more general and all-pervasive right to save one's own life. One hasrepparttar 132662 right to take certain actions or avoid taking certain actions in order to save his or her own life.

It is generally accepted that one hasrepparttar 132663 right to kill a pursuer who knowingly and intentionally intends to take one's life. It is debatable, though, whether one hasrepparttar 132664 right to kill an innocent person who unknowingly and unintentionally threatens to take one's life.

IG. The Right to Terminate One's Life

See "The Murder of Oneself".

IH. The Right to Have One's Life Terminated

The right to euthanasia, to have one's life terminated at will, is restricted by numerous social, ethical, and legal rules, principles, and considerations. In a nutshell - in many countries inrepparttar 132665 West one is thought to has a right to have one's life terminated withrepparttar 132666 help of third parties if one is going to die shortly anyway and if one is going to be tormented and humiliated by great and debilitating agony forrepparttar 132667 rest of one's remaining life if not helped to die. Of course, for one's wish to be helped to die to be accommodated, one has to be in sound mind and to will one's death knowingly, intentionally, and forcefully.

II. Issues inrepparttar 132668 Calculus of Rights

IIA. The Hierarchy of Rights

All human cultures have hierarchies of rights. These hierarchies reflect cultural mores and lores and there cannot, therefore, be a universal, or eternal hierarchy.

In Western moral systems,repparttar 132669 Right to Life supersedes all other rights (includingrepparttar 132670 right to one's body, to comfort, torepparttar 132671 avoidance of pain, to property, etc.).

Yet, this hierarchical arrangement does not help us to resolve cases in which there is a clash of EQUAL rights (for instance,repparttar 132672 conflicting rights to life of two people). One way to decide among equally potent claims is randomly (by flipping a coin, or casting dice). Alternatively, we could add and subtract rights in a somewhat macabre arithmetic. If a mother's life is endangered byrepparttar 132673 continued existence of a fetus and assuming both of them have a right to life we can decide to killrepparttar 132674 fetus by adding torepparttar 132675 mother's right to life her right to her own body and thus outweighingrepparttar 132676 fetus' right to life.

IIB. The Difference between Killing and Letting Die

There is an assumed difference between killing (taking life) and letting die (not saving a life). This is supported by IE above. While there is a right not to be killed - there is no right to have one's own life saved. Thus, while there is an obligation not to kill - there is no obligation to save a life.

IIC. Killingrepparttar 132677 Innocent

Oftenrepparttar 132678 continued existence of an innocent person (IP) threatens to takerepparttar 132679 life of a victim (V). By "innocent" we mean "not guilty" - not responsible for killing V, not intending to kill V, and not knowing that V will be killed due to IP's actions or continued existence.

It is simple to decide to kill IP to save V if IP is going to die anyway shortly, andrepparttar 132680 remaining life of V, if saved, will be much longer thanrepparttar 132681 remaining life of IP, if not killed. All other variants require a calculus of hierarchically weighted rights. (See "Abortion andrepparttar 132682 Sanctity of Human Life" by Baruch A. Brody).

One form of calculus isrepparttar 132683 utilitarian theory. It calls forrepparttar 132684 maximization of utility (life, happiness, pleasure). In other words,repparttar 132685 life, happiness, or pleasure ofrepparttar 132686 many outweighrepparttar 132687 life, happiness, or pleasure ofrepparttar 132688 few. It is morally permissible to kill IP ifrepparttar 132689 lives of two or more people will be saved as a result and there is no other way to save their lives. Despite strong philosophical objections to some ofrepparttar 132690 premises of utilitarian theory - I agree with its practical prescriptions.

In this context -repparttar 132691 dilemma of killingrepparttar 132692 innocent - one can also call uponrepparttar 132693 right to self defence. Does V have a right to kill IP regardless of any moral calculus of rights? Probably not. One is rarely justified in taking another's life to save one's own. But such behaviour cannot be condemned. Here we haverepparttar 132694 flip side ofrepparttar 132695 confusion - understandable and perhaps inevitable behaviour (self defence) is mistaken for a MORAL RIGHT. That most V's would kill IP and that we would all sympathize with V and understand its behaviour does not mean that V had a RIGHT to kill IP. V may have had a right to kill IP - but this right is not automatic, nor is it all-encompassing.

III. Abortion andrepparttar 132696 Social Contract

The issue of abortion is emotionally loaded and this often makes for poor, not thoroughly thought out arguments. The questions: "Is abortion immoral" and "Is abortion a murder" are often confused. The pregnancy (andrepparttar 132697 resulting fetus) are discussed in terms normally reserved to natural catastrophes (force majeure). At times,repparttar 132698 embryo is compared to cancer, a thief, or an invader: after all, they are both growths, clusters of cells. The difference, of course, is that no one contracts cancer willingly (except, to some extent, smokers -–but, then they gamble, not contract).

Abortion and the Right to Life - Part III

Written by Sam Vaknin

Having reviewedrepparttar above arguments and counter-arguments, Don Marquis goes on (in "Why Abortion is Immoral", 1989) to offer a sharper and more comprehensive criterion: terminating a life is morally wrong because a person has a future filled with value and meaning, similar to ours.

Butrepparttar 132653 whole debate is unnecessary. There is no conflict betweenrepparttar 132654 rights ofrepparttar 132655 mother and those of her fetus because there is never a conflict between parties to an agreement. By signing an agreement,repparttar 132656 mother gave up some of her rights and limitedrepparttar 132657 others. This is normal practice in contracts: they represent compromises,repparttar 132658 optimization (and notrepparttar 132659 maximization) ofrepparttar 132660 parties' rights and wishes. The rights ofrepparttar 132661 fetus are an inseparable part ofrepparttar 132662 contract whichrepparttar 132663 mother signed voluntarily and reasonably. They are derived fromrepparttar 132664 mother's behaviour. Getting willingly pregnant (or assumingrepparttar 132665 risk of getting pregnant by not using contraceptives reasonably) – isrepparttar 132666 behaviour which validates and ratifies a contract between her andrepparttar 132667 fetus. Many contracts are by behaviour, rather than by a signed piece of paper. Numerous contracts are verbal or behavioural. These contracts, though implicit, are as binding as any of their written, more explicit, brethren. Legally (and morally)repparttar 132668 situation is crystal clear:repparttar 132669 mother signed some of her rights away in this contract. Even if she regrets it – she cannot claim her rights back by annullingrepparttar 132670 contract unilaterally. No contract can be annulled this way –repparttar 132671 consent of both parties is required. Many times we realize that we have entered a bad contract, but there is nothing much that we can do about it. These arerepparttar 132672 rules ofrepparttar 132673 game.

Thusrepparttar 132674 two remaining questions: (a) can this specific contract (pregnancy) be annulled and, if so (b) in which circumstances – can be easily settled using modern contract law. Yes, a contract can be annulled and voided if signed under duress, involuntarily, by incompetent persons (e.g.,repparttar 132675 insane), or if one ofrepparttar 132676 parties made a reasonable and full scale attempt to prevent its signature, thus expressing its clear will not to signrepparttar 132677 contract. It is also terminated or voided if it would be unreasonable to expect one ofrepparttar 132678 parties to see it through. Rape, contraception failure, life threatening situations are all such cases.

This could be argued against by saying that, inrepparttar 132679 case of economic hardship, f or instance,repparttar 132680 damage torepparttar 132681 mother's future is certain. True, her value- filled, meaningful future is granted – but so isrepparttar 132682 detrimental effect thatrepparttar 132683 fetus will have on it, once born. This certainty cannot be balanced byrepparttar 132684 UNCERTAIN value-filled future life ofrepparttar 132685 embryo. Always, preferring an uncertain good to a certain evil is morally wrong. But surely this is a quantitative matter – not a qualitative one. Certain, limited aspects ofrepparttar 132686 rest ofrepparttar 132687 mother's life will be adversely effected (and can be ameliorated by society's helping hand and intervention) if she does haverepparttar 132688 baby. The decision not to have it is both qualitatively and qualitatively different. It is to depriverepparttar 132689 unborn of allrepparttar 132690 aspects of all his future life – in which he might well have experienced happiness, values, and meaning.

The questions whetherrepparttar 132691 fetus is a Being or a growth of cells, conscious in any manner, or utterly unconscious, able to value his life and to want them – are all but irrelevant. He hasrepparttar 132692 potential to lead a happy, meaningful, value-filled life, similar to ours, very much as a one minute old baby does. The contract between him and his mother is a service provision contract. She provides him with goods and services that he requires in order to materialize his potential. It sounds very much like many other human contracts. And this contract continue well after pregnancy has ended and birth given.

Consider education: children do not appreciate its importance or value its potential – still, it is enforced upon them because we, who are capable of those feats, want them to haverepparttar 132693 tools that they will need in order to develop their potential. In this and many other respects,repparttar 132694 human pregnancy continues well intorepparttar 132695 fourth year of life (physiologically it continues in torepparttar 132696 second year of life - see "Born Alien"). Shouldrepparttar 132697 location ofrepparttar 132698 pregnancy (in uterus, in vivo) determine its future? If a mother hasrepparttar 132699 right to abort at will, why shouldrepparttar 132700 mother be denied her right to terminaterepparttar 132701 " pregnancy" AFTERrepparttar 132702 fetus emerges andrepparttar 132703 pregnancy continues OUTSIDE her womb? Even after birth,repparttar 132704 woman's body isrepparttar 132705 main source of food torepparttar 132706 baby and, in any case, she has to endure physical hardship to raiserepparttar 132707 child. Why not extendrepparttar 132708 woman's ownership of her body and right to it further in time and space torepparttar 132709 post-natal period?

Contracts to provide goods and services (always at a personal cost torepparttar 132710 provider) arerepparttar 132711 commonest of contracts. We open a business. We sell a software application, we publish a book – we engage in helping others to materialize their potential. We should always do so willingly and reasonably – otherwiserepparttar 132712 contracts that we sign will be null and void. But to deny anyone his capacity to materialize his potential andrepparttar 132713 goods and services that he needs to do so – after a valid contract was entered into - is immoral. To refuse to provide a service or to condition it provision (Mother: " I will providerepparttar 132714 goods and services that I agreed to provide to this fetus under this contract only if and when I benefit from such provision") is a violation ofrepparttar 132715 contract and should be penalized. Admittedly, at times we have a right to choose to dorepparttar 132716 immoral (because it has not been codified as illegal) – but that does not turn it into moral.

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