The issue of abortion is one that creates many controversies in the public arena. In some countries it is legal while it remains illegal in others. In areas that it has been legalized, it has been so purely on medical grounds where a life more so the woman’s life is at risk should the pregnancy be taken to term. Such incidences include situations where the pregnant woman has cancer or diabetes. (Butts J and Rich K, 2005). The major issues in contrast here are those for pro-choice versus those for pro-life. Various philosophers would have varying viewpoints regarding this moral issue. This paper will focus on Immanuel Kant on abortion.
Proponents of abortion would contend that at this era or age human rights should be respected to the dot. Women should have the right to carry their pregnancies to term or eliminate it if they so wish. The argument here is that ‘it is their bodies after all’ and they can do whatever it is that pleases them as long as it does not interfere with other people’s lives. (Intecon, 2004). Another issue that brings about mixed feelings when discussing the issue of abortion is the relationship between the fetus and their mothers. The point of concern in this case is whether it is a completely different entity or it is part of the mother. Proponents of abortion would argue that it is part of the mother thus justifying the viewpoint that women have all rights to do whatever they wished with their bodies. Opponents on the other hand would argue that since the fetus has a unique DNA as well as a totally different respiratory system then it qualifies to be a separate entity altogether. This is to say that ‘it’ is not part of the woman’s body. The heart beat of the fetus being felt indicates that the fetus is actually a living human being. Those who support abortion on the argument that ‘fetus’ are not living human beings are therefore challenged to rethink their ideologies.
Immanuel, Kant, a renowned philosopher would surely oppose abortion. His popularity can be attributed to the categorical imperative notion that he coined. He argued that human beings were occupant of the special place in creation and consequently deserved to be treated with much dignity and respect. (Collins A, 2000). Unlike the utilitarian philosophers who urged people to behave or rather act in ways or manners that were for the greater good or happiness in the society, Kant was for the idea that each individual did matter in the society. Sacrificing one person for others is something that could not go down well with Kant.
To Kant, human beings have needs or want which are to fulfill or rather satisfied using certain means or ways. He coined the word ‘maxims’ to refer to peoples ‘intentions’ or principles of action. He further argued that in pursuit of the varying ‘maxims’ people should never use others as means to an end but as an end in itself as by doing so they undermined or rather disrespected their dignity. On the contrary, both parties involved ought to benefit from the arrangements. (Collins A, 2000).
Kant also argued that people should only act on those maxims that can become universal laws. To him, there exist in the society universal moral laws which are logically important or necessary. He also brought about the idea of centrality of rational thought where he pointed out that although human beings had the freedom to make decisions, they ought to be compelled by rationality and the categorical imperative. In this regard, people were expected to make rational decisions that could become universal laws while adhering to the categorical imperative. (Robert H, 2000).
Using Kant’s principles one can clearly conclude that Kant would not by any chance advocate for abortion. Abortion can be seen as a way where the women ‘maxims’ use the fetus simply as a means to and end but not an end in itself. This is attributed to the fact that the ‘fetus’ is not consulted and it does not gain in this arrangement. Abortion cannot qualify to be a ‘universal law’ and Kant would reject it by all standards. Kant would also argue that people ought to behave in ways that they would not mind if others applied the same strategies on them. (Robert H, 2000). If one would not be happy aborted or rather was not aborted then why would they advocate for abortion.
Kant would also argue that through abortion, the fetus dignity is disrespected as it is terminated at the will of the mother. Kant would reject abortion on the grounds that probably the mother is a young girl who has to complete her education or studies. This would appear like a ‘utilitarian’ approach where the greater good’ is opted for. This is a clear indication of using ‘them’ simply as means to an end but not an end in itself.
The viewpoint by some abortion proponents that high population has a negative impact on nations and that such would be reduced using abortion would also be rejected by Kant. This is because it undermine the ‘fetus’ dignity by using them as means to and end rather than an end in itself. Justifying abortion due to economic reasons where may be a pregnant woman aborts to safeguard their jobs is also against what Kant would define as universal laws and hence immoral. Although women have the freedom to make autonomous decisions about their lives they must be guided by rationality as well as the categorical imperative.
Collins A. 2000. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: International Philosophical Quarterly
Robert H. 2000. Kant, Truth and Human Nature. British Journal for the History of
Intecon. 2004. Abortion. Pros And Cons: Arguments, Views and Facts ; Information
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Butts J and Rich K. 2005. Nursing Ethics: Across The Curriculum And Into Practice
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