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Abortion is a widely controversial issue due to the fact that arguments in favor or against abortion are so soundly rooted in our basic rights. Pro-choice advocates argue that if they are denied the right to get an abortion, they are denied one of the critical rights to their body. Pro-life advocates argue that if abortion is allowed to take place, it is in direct violation of the fetus’s right to life. For the sake of argument, let’s agree both these premises are correct. However, we must keep in mind that our rights end, when they are in direct violation of another’s rights. As John Fitzgerald Kennedy once stated, “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” With this in mind, the rights of the woman to her body would impede on the fetus’s right to life, which would then be unjust and immoral. However, the fetus’s right to life would impede on the mother’s right to her body and her right to choose. Therefore, carrying the fetus to term against the mother’s wishes would again be unjust and immoral, creating a sort of righteous paradox.
To avoid the righteous paradox as described above, one can argue the principle of moral obligation. For instance, you have a moral obligation to help someone in need if you are able to do so. Another moral obligation we all have, is the moral obligation to protect one’s innocence for as long as possible. In order to argue this theory, a basic understanding of innocence as it will be described in this paper is necessary. Innocence is not actively doing something that can cause harm to oneself or others. A violation of innocence can only be punished by the obscenity of the violation itself. For instance, if someone breaks into your home and threatens your life, your moral obligation would be to kill the intruder, with the belief being that the intruder can no longer threaten your life or any others. This moral principle extends, without exception, into the topic of abortion. With the innocence theory, a mother has a moral obligation to keep the fetus, as it is protecting the innocence of the fertilized egg inside. The fetus does not have a right to the woman’s body, but rather the woman has a moral obligation that compels her to keep the child.
This innocence theory is extremely similar to that of the Non-Aggression Principle, or NAP. The NAP as according to nap.univacc.net, states that it is immoral to instigate aggression, or “initiation of a coercive relationship.” The principle also states that any aggression towards oneself or one’s property is immoral, and therefore leaves room for retaliation. Groups from all aspects of the political spectrum can agree with the NAP principle because a set of laws can be derived from it that many people consider to be better than laws currently in place in the US government. Also, the principle explains a lot of moral complications that may arise without having to have exceptions to this rule. As this relates to abortion, one could argue that because the non-aggression principle condemns the act of instigating violence, abortion is immoral and should be prohibited. The non-aggression principle relates to the innocence theory stated above because it believes that when the life of the mother is in danger, the instigation of aggression is on the fetus and the mother has a right to retaliate.
The innocence argument and the non-aggression principle are also similar in the way that both the principles can relate to a wide variety of topics. Many arguments you make can be picked apart and traced back to these ideas. The broadness of the rule and its many applications make these principles one of the few that don’t contradict themselves and make special exceptions. For instance, you can relate these principles to the death penalty, self-defense laws, and even the second amendment debate. The way the innocence argument delves deeper into morals, however, is that the innocence argument also recognized emotional harm, rather than simply physical harm.
However, with the non-aggression principle, there is a basic argument for abortion that can still be valid. That is, that the fetus is impeding on the woman’s property, in this case her body, and threatening her life and property simply by existing. Therefore, the fetus would be the aggressor and that would give the mother the right to an abortion. The innocence theory solves this, because innocence is not actively doing something that can harm oneself or others. There is no mention of aggression towards the property of the mother’s body and there has to be viable evidence that the fetus will kill the mother if carried to delivery. Therefore, the innocence of the fetus compels the mother to carry the fertilized ovum. Therefore, the innocence argument is more solid on the grounds of abortion that the non-aggression principle.
Another principle to the innocence argument is the fact that harm has to be preventable. Meaning that, there has to be a viable way to stop a grave and gruesome outcome from happening or potentially happening in the future with evidence of its possibility in order for the perpetrator to no longer be considered innocent. For instance, someone who has murdered an individual is caught. This individual is put on trial and receives the death penalty. The death penalty, in the innocence argument is completely permissible because the punishment is no graver than the crime, plus it is actively preventing this person from committing another murder.
A case that could be of concern for both principles in the matter of abortion is that of twins in the womb. Let’s say that with the twins in the womb, one twin happens to eat the other in a very extreme, and rare, medical circumstance. With the non-aggression principle, the act of eating its twin in the womb would be an aggression and would therefore allow the mother to get an abortion of the remaining child. While this act is also a violation of the innocence principle, the violation was completed without intention and negligence of the fetus, and therefore the obscenity of the violation is not compatible with getting an abortion. Not to mention, there is no foreseeable way of preventing this event from occurring. You cannot predict this will happen, and if you could, there is no way to stop it. In order to abort the child that may possibly kill your other child, you would have to abort both children, and the mother would violate her own innocence making the procedure immoral.
This case leads us nicely into a point that cannot be overlooked about the innocence theory, especially in relation to abortion. The retaliation, in order for it to be moral and just, must be equal to the obscenity of the violation of the principle. For example, a mother cannot get an abortion simply because she feels morning sickness. The only way to justify the death of her child and release her from moral obligation to preserve the fetus’s innocence, is for the fetus to put her life in eminent danger. When her life is in eminent danger, the existence alone of the fetus violates the innocence principle by causing harm to the mother, and the only way for the mother to live is to eliminate the fetus. Even though the fetus has no intent and no negligence in potentially causing the death of its mother, the outcome of its birth has extremely grave consequences that can be prevented, if the birth is prevented. Thus, the case of eminent danger for the mother is different from the twin case due to the fact that within the twin case, there was also no potential way to prevent the death of the twin.
The innocent argument in cases of rape is quite clear. Whilst the rapist who impregnated the mother is not innocent in the slightest, his guilty conscience does not pass to the unborn child. The child is not actively doing anything to harm the mother or itself and is therefore innocent according to the definition. Some may say that knowledge of the existence of the child can cause emotional stress on the mother, therefore the fetus is causing harm. However, the emotional stress from this traumatic experience is not based off the child and will not end when the child does. Continuously, there is no legitimate way to prevent emotional stress from ensuing after this traumatic event. Because of all of these factors, the child is still innocent, and the mother still has a moral obligation to the fetus to carry it to term.
In agreement with the paragraph above, the innocence argument hold up for cases of disability when the quality of life could be considered low. Cases of abortion due to disability are extremely immoral in reference to the innocence argument. For example, the innocence of the fetus was never in question. While the fetus can cause preventable emotional distress on parents that are to conceive a disabled child, the slight violation of innocence that is occurring is not punishable by death. The retaliation is too grave and serious for slight emotional distress. Henceforth, the quality of life argument has no moral basis in the innocence theory.
Another qualm for pro-choice advocates that can be easily refuted by the innocence argument is the idea that allowing abortions would prevent overpopulation in the globe. The innocence refutation is as simple as this: How can one person justify the death of millions of innocents due to overpopulation of the globe? If we allow abortion simply for the fact that it can slightly reduce the growing population amounts, we can also allow the onslaught of millions of innocent civilians by their governments. At what point would the killing of innocence stop? As we would neglect our moral obligation to protect the innocent, we would also lose our humanity at a dangerously rapid pace. Not to mention the logic behind this idea is flawed. Our population on the earth cannot grow exponentially, humans need a certain amount of space and resources that could not be provided after about 10 trillion people. And it is neither true that once we hit 10 trillion people, that there would suddenly be a duel over natural resources. Our population would stable, and the younger generations would feel that they cannot fiscally support more children. It would be a slow halt to our max population, rather than this screeching hold. Abortion itself plays no role in overpopulation, except the fact that it destroys a part of the generation temporarily, when most people who have abortions just wait until later to have children, when, if forced to keep the child, may have reconsidered the number of children to add to their families.
To conclude the theory of innocence as it relates to abortion, one should remember the definition as it is used in this paper. Innocence is not actively harming oneself or others. The preservation off innocence and the innocent is our moral duty, just as it is to help someone in need when possible. The innocence argument also further develops on other moral philosophies such as the non-aggression principle, making them more solid in all of the arguments it is used in. Also, the innocence argument in abortion does not have a single exception to the theory, making it more plausible and agreeable. Not to mention that fact that, like the non-aggression principle, it has a moral standing in all arguments, and all sound arguments can be traced back to this theory. In the case of abortion, the innocence theory can identify every argument that pro-choice advocators may have and creates an agreeable and moral rebuttal. Also, the theory of innocence in relation to abortion protects against the righteous paradox that can be created using basic rights, preventing any small footholds that could distract from the main debate and finding a moral solution to abortion. The theory of innocence is the only true possibility into explaining the immorality of abortion and other controversial issues.