This topic seems to come up a little bit more often as of late and since it is such an important philosophical topic, that is also highly informed by our religious outlook I think it’s worth discussing when abortion is permissable and when it isn’t.
I of course don’t operate with the goal in mind to settle this highly controversial issue but maybe I can give you something to think about. This article is merely how I see it.
There are within this discussion various different positions. Some people hold to the view, that life begins at conception.
As far as I’m concerned this view is untenable. The first reason of course, is that conception is a process itself. Conception takes place over ~24 hours, so we can’t really pinpoint at what moment in this process we now officially have a human being.
One might of course say that it is true, that we don’t know when we have a human being during the process but after conception, then we know and then we can draw the line. Unfortunately this won’t work neither, since twinning has yet to occur. Does then this life split into 2 half lives? Since most people who hold to that view tend to be very religious, this could have serious implications for the soul.
Additionally in this pro choice vs. pro life debate it is important to define terms:
We should not only speak of humans and killing which can be easily defined, a human is biologically classified and killing is simply the termination of life, we should also define what we mean by “person” and “murder” and that is where the two parties drift apart.
The definition I would use for “person” is a sentient human being i.e. a human that has a perception an experience of being alive. “Murder” as far as I’m concerned is the unjustified killing of a sentient human being without their consent. Such Justifications include self defense, defense of the life or lives of others, preservation of ones own bodily autonomy etc. .
The last justification is of major importance in the discussion, since a woman has a right to her own autonomy and the baby uses her body to stay alive.
So it’s difficult to say at what point during pregnancy we assign the human/person inside of her more value than we do the mother.
At this point we need to address when a person begins. If we accept my definition of person, then I think science can offer some assistance at least. The perception and experience of being alive is determined by the brain. So we need to take a look at brain development during pregnancy. We won’t be able to draw a clear cut line but science can inform us here.
As this site indicates the development of the brain starts at 6 weeks into pregnancy. That of course doesn’t mean that consciousness starts at 6 weeks and therefore a person starts at 6 weeks. We’re far from finished in our investigation where consciousness resides but from what I’ve found out it resides in the prefontal cortex .
Again as the previous site indicates the prefontal cortex starts to develope in 19 weeks into pregnancy within the second trimester and I think that’s where a grey zone starts to begin which as I hold ends in week 27 the last week of the second trimester. In this greyzone one needs to seriously consider both sides of the issue, both the mother and the developing person, especially since the risk of death through the abortion process only increases. Such a decision depends on the case and needs to be well thought out by all parties involved.
After that stage the brain is pretty developed and it would need to be a serious emergency ahead to justify an abortion at that point within the third trimester.
Luckily for us though most abortions happen within the first trimester. Still there is a lot of nuance involved and it all depends on the situation. I still hope I gave you some insight and some food for thought and if you disagree with me (as many undoubtedly will) I hope I didn’t upset you too much.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation