A Case Against Warren And Abortion

1309 words - 6 pages

“I intend to judge things for myself; to judge wrongly, I think, is more honorable than not to judge at all.” What author Henry James meant by this was that it is better to make up one’s mind and have an opinion than to remain complacent, such as the case of Mary Anne Warren. Warren’s arguments for abortion’s possible permissibility are lacking in substance. The aim of my paper is to discuss Warren’s insufficient criteria for personhood and address the problem with her concept of potential personhood.
“I argue that it is personhood, and not genetic humanity, which is the fundamental basis for membership in the moral community” (Warren 166). Warren’s primary argument for abortion’s permissibility is structured around her stance that fetuses are not persons. This argument relies heavily upon her six criteria for personhood: A being’s sentience, emotionality, reason, capacity for communication, self-awareness, and having moral agencies (Warren 171-172). While this list seems sound in considering an average, healthy adult’s personhood, it neither accounts for nor addresses the personhood of infants, mentally ill individuals, or the developmentally challenged. Sentience is one’s ability to consciously feel and perceive things around them. While it is true that all animals and humans born can feel and perceive things within their environment, consider a coma patient, an individual suspended in unconsciousness and unable to move their own body for indeterminate amounts of time. While controversial, this person, whom could be in the middle of an average life, does not suddenly become less of a person
Consider the second criteria of emotionality. Emotionality is one’s ability to feel and be affected by emotion. While all average individuals do possess emotions, it is worth mentioning that in certain cases, as with sociopaths, some may not have this capacity. These mentally ill individuals, while often able to mimic, are unable to genuinely feel a substantial proportion of the spectrum of human emotion, such as love, compassion, or remorse. While they may not necessarily become good or moral people, it would still be absurd to consider someone with this illness less than a person. The third and fourth criteria, reason, and capacity for communication, are both in direct conflict with addressing the personhood of an infant or developmentally challenged individual. An infant, or even a toddler for that matter, are generally unable to successfully speak, read, or write a language on a level by which they can be fully understood by an adult, let alone use reason in decision-making situations past satisfying the basest of needs. The same can be said for certain individuals whom are developmentally challenged. While not all with mental disabilities lack communication skills, a substantial portion do have this issue, such as a severely autistic individual. Children and the developmentally challenged individuals lives are harder for the lacking in these two...

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