Chapter 5 “Ethics at the Beginning of Life, Part 1” from Rae’s book “Moral choices: An introduction to ethics” provides a comprehensive overview of various ethical issues related to the beginning of life. More precisely, Rae (2018) discusses arguments in favor of and against abortions, the personhood of an embryo, and fetal tissue research. Concerning the topic of abortions, the author’s critical conclusion is that there is nothing illegal in pregnancy termination. Undoubtedly, the Bible prohibits killing leaving creatures because it is only God who has the power to give and take a life.
The legalization of abortions in the US was a long process, and women had to fight in court to gain this right. Currently, Rae (2018) claims several reasons why abortions should not be abolished. First of all, women are free to decide what to do with the body. Secondly, the legalization of abortions protects women from the danger of the “illegal “back alley” abortions” (Rae, 2018, p. 140). Besides, it is cruel to make a raped, poor, or ill woman have a child.
The issue of embryos and fetuses personhood remains debatable. From one point of view, some scholars argue that a fetus indeed is a person. The philosopher Judith Thomson claims that in spite of the fact that an embryo has personhood, a pregnant woman still has a moral right to commit an abortion (Rae, 2018). Still, this opinion raises the question of whether, in this context, abortion resembles murder or not. Rae (2018) clarifies that a fetus’s brain starts functioning after the 45th day of pregnancy. From this, it could be inferred that a fetus acquires personhood in the process of development in the womb. Hence, it becomes apparent that abortion equals killing a person when it becomes something more than a set of cells without a functioning nervous system.
Finally, there are numerous arguments for and against the research of embryos and utilization of leftover embryos stem cells for suffering patients. Scientists face multiple ethical issues and, to some extent, like philosophers. That is because it is up to them to decide whether it is morally right or wrong to conduct experiments on embryos that are people not in biological but philosophical terms.
Overall, the assigned chapter is well-structured and easy to read and understand. It was immensely interesting to see how the views on abortions altered through history. Additionally, the question of an embryo’s or a fetus’s personhood remains a mystery for me. It seems that at the current level of scientific and technological development, no one could provide exhaustive justification of whether an embryo or a fetus has a soul and should be equalized to a person from the very beginning.
In fact, the discussion on abortion, research of fetal tissues, and personhood of embryos resemble the polar views of my parents and mine on these issues. They believe that from the very first second of conception, a set of cells becomes a human being, has a soul, and could not be killed via abortion. In my turn, my arguments are similar to those presented by Rae (2018). Nevertheless, as it has already been mentioned, even though religion it is possible to prove that abortions are rightful and unrightful at the same time. What is more, it is up to every individual to decide which side of these endless debates to take.
Rae, S. (2018). Moral choices: An introduction to ethics (4th ed.). Zondervan Academic.