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A Critique of On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion, by Mary Anne Warren

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“On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion” by Mary Anne Warren is an in depth analysis of what, in Warren’s opinion, it is exactly that defines a person and human being, the moral community, fetal development and the right to life, potential personhood and the right to life, and infanticide. Warren believes that emotion and morality should be entirely separate, and that abortion should be legal for all women, as denial would be stripping women of basic human rights, the rights that a woman holds over an unborn fetus. I personally agree with her arguments on these topics as I agree that women should be allowed to have abortions on their own terms, without subjection of authority or society telling her what she can and cannot do, as well as I agree for the most part on her view of what a person is, potential personhood not outweighing the choice of abortion, and her reasoning on what defines a person of the moral community.
Warren insists that the “moral” sense of human and “genetic” sense of human must be kept separate in this observation. As she defines the two, she goes on to say that the confusion of the two: “results in a slide of meaning, which serves to conceal the fallaciousness of the traditional argument that since (1) it is wrong to kill innocent human beings, and (2) fetuses are innocent human beings, then (3) it is wrong to kill fetuses. For if `human' is used in the same sense in both (1) and (2) then, whichever of the two senses is meant, one of these premises is question begging. And if it is used in two different senses then of course the conclusion doesn't follow”(Warren 434). With this she concludes that a human being is one that is a fully active participant in society. In the moral commun...


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...e open to all women at any point of pregnancy, and that the woman reserves the right as a fully conscious member of the moral community to choose to carry the child or not. She argues that fetuses are not persons or members of the moral community because they don’t fulfill the five qualities of personhood she has fashioned. Warren’s arguments are valid, mostly sound, and cover just about all aspects of the overall topic. However much she was inconsistent on the topic of infanticide, her overall writing was well done and consistent. Warren rejects emotional appeal in a very Vulcan like manner; devout to reason and logic and in doing so has created a well-written paper based solely on this rational mindset.




Works Cited

Warren, Mary Anne , and Mappes and D. DeGrazia. "On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion." Biomedical Ethics 4th (1996): 434-440. Print.


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