Why abortion is immoral


Don Marquis’s article ‘why abortion is immoral?’ contains Paul Bassen’s argument on absence of victimization in abortions with respect to the prospect of an embryo. He has supported his view with the authenticity of embryo’s unconsciousness and absence of capability for sensation.  He has equalized them to plants and other mere metabolism consisting species, which cannot be victimized due to lack of activity or ability to think. Bassen’s Argument: ‘An embryo cannot be a victim, he says, because it lacks sentience’ (Marquis, p.199).
  1. embryo lacks sentience
  2. victims must have sentience in them to feel brutalized
Therefore, embryo cannot be victimized by abortion.

Argument on Bassen’s view:

If embryo is incapable of sentience due to developmental process, the life support should be taken off? Does it justify abortion or killing due to incapability to think, move or feel?


Bassen’s view on permissible abortion, contains examples of plants and mere metabolism consisting organisms. He supports his view with the fact that these unconscious species live all around, but for the safeguard of human beings they are killed, reduced and hence, it does not come under the category of victimization. Moreover, he has stated that prospect future of embryo or FLO (a term Marquis has developed ‘future life like ours’ to explain the right of life and future for a human being), act as a baseline for wrongness of abortion.

Embryo is mature zygotes; it is an organism in the earliest stage of human development. Embryo cannot stay alive on its own. When support is taken from a living organism, which has potential future prospect to attain thriving life, the act is known as immoral victimization. Presence and absence of sentience cannot ascertain the right of life. Thus, life support is provided to people in coma, mentally retarded and above of all to a living existence. There has always been an absence of FLO for plants and other permanently unconscious species. Therefore, the act of terminating a life that needs support for existence is an immortal act.

Work Cited

Marquis, Don. “Why Abortion Is Immoral.” The Journal of Philosophy. 86.4 (1989): 183-202. Print.

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