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1 CONSISTENCY AND THE CONSERVATIVE ABORTION POSITION by Dave Yount INTRODUCTION : In this brief paper, I want to show that it may be difficult for the conservative [1] in the abortion issue to have a consistent reason for his or her position. This article is not in any way arguing that the liberals have a better or the best view regarding the abortion issue. What this article will do, however, is (1) address some of the common reasons given for the conservative abortion position and (2) question the consistency of these various reasons across differing situations in which the pregnant mother finds herself. What is the conservative abortion position? I will refer to the moderate conservative position as the position that allows three exceptions to the general “no abortions” rule; that is, abortions are morally permissible only in cases of incest, rape, and where the mother‟s life is in danger. I will call the extreme conservative position the one where abortions are not morally permissible at any time, even when the mother‟s life is in danger. Let us now examine five different cases, seeing first how the moderate conservative would handle them, and work our way to the extreme conservative position. I will argue that the moderate conservative position, as portrayed here, is inconsistent, and that the extreme conservative position is counter-intuitive, and as such both positions (as portrayed here) leave much to be desired. FIVE CASES AND THE MODERATE CONSERVATIVE POSITION : CASE 1: Voluntary sex, no contraception : Sophie is sleeping around, not using contraception and gets pregnant. She wants an abortion. Suppose the moderate conservative uses the following reasons to argue that an abortion in Sophie‟s case is not morally permissible: (1) She knew that pregnancy may result from her actions, (2) the fetus is a person with a full
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2 right to life from conception, (3) she can give the baby up for adoption once it is born, and (4) she should be responsible for her choices and carry the baby to term. Not all these reasons would have to be used, but we‟ll return to these reasons as we examine the other cases. CASE 2: Voluntary intercourse, best available contraception : Linda is CEO for a large corporation and loves her career, but feels that it is her right to have intercourse every once in awhile. Linda does not want children – having them would ruin her career (as she sees it), since she travels constantly and would not be able to keep her job. She does not want the financial expense of being pregnant or the time off for appointments, morning sickness, etc. She discovers she is pregnant, and wants an abortion. The moderate conservative would probably respond with all of the reasons given in Case 1: (1) Linda knew pregnancy was possible; (2) the fetus is a person from conception, (3) adoption is possible, and (4) Linda should still be responsible for the baby. Again, we‟ll return to this case after considering others.
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course PHIL 61 at San Jose State.

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