Department: Department Of Philosophy
The problem this dissertation attempts to resolve is the question bothering on whether a woman has the right and therefore is morally justified to willfully terminate her pregnancy. The controversy surrounding this question is what scholars call the abortion debate. After raging on for centuries, the debate was somewhat deadlocked as both opponents and proponents of abortion seemed justified in their positions. In recent years, however, with the victory of liberalism which ushers in the liberalization of abortion laws around the globe, many participants in the debate are beginning to believe that the battle has been lost and won. The general impression is that the pro-choice camp has eventually carried the day. Those who advocate this position and those who buy into their advocacy usually do so, among other reasons, on the strength of the outcome of the mother’s right to autonomy or self-determination-debate, which they claim went the way of the prochoice group. Their submission usually is that even if pro-lifers are able to demonstrate that abortion is killing (which they have not), the mother’s fundamental right to self-ownership still legitimizes her to do anything she wants with her body, including abortion. To see the argument otherwise simply implies advocating the taking away of the mother’s fundamental right to personal autonomy which according to them is especially an aberration in the 21st Century. This dissertation employed the method of analysis to appraise this assumption. The use of analysis here was informed by the complex and ambiguous nature of the terms usually employed in the abortion debate. Thus, analysis ensured that these terms are simplified and improve comprehensibility. On the whole, the dissertation found using the philosophical doctrine of identity that a foetus cannot be anything but a human being such that to abort it was nothing short of murdering a human being. The dissertation also discovered that the interests of the mother and the unborn baby were mutually inclusive not exclusive as pro-choice advocates would have us believe. In the end, the dissertation adopting the doctrine of double effect concluded that the apparent conflict of rights between the mother and the unborn child could be reconciled without deliberately violating the inalienable rights to life of either parties.