Bioethics Blogs

A Few Thoughts On Abortion and Valuing Human Life

Who could be against life? Ancient natural law theory in the
Catholic tradition tells us that human beings desire to live, and that life is
good, therefore humans have an obligation to live and not kill other human
beings. This ancient wisdom has been instilled into western ways of moral
thinking. So, who could not be prolife in terms of how we place value on all
individual human life?


Who could be against human freedom? Individual human beings
should be free to live peacefully in accordance with their own values and life
goals. This is a basic tenet of democracy that has shaped moral and political
thinking in the West for the past four centuries. So, who could not be against
the exercise of free choice, especially about something so basic as having
control over our bodies?


The two value perspectives contained in the prior two
paragraphs, all things equal, are eminently reasonable and most ethically unproblematic.
These two value positions represent two fundamental principles of ethics—the
intrinsic value of all individual human lives and the right of free individuals
to govern their own lives and bodies—that guide us in living an ethical life
and making ethical decisions. It is when these fundamental principles come into
direct conflict that a serious, a near irresolvable, ethical conflict arises.
There is no greater direct conflict of these two ethical principles than right
of women to have an abortion. It is commonly assumed that one is either on one
side of this moral abyss or the other and the twain shall never meet.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.