Abortion… it’s here!

March 22, 2006

doll.jpgJ.S. writes,

I am the mother of a fifteen year old child who is now pregnant. My child is a high-school student with no partner, and no ability to raise a child. I am not in a position to adequately care for this child while continuing to support my family. Despite my daughter’s inability to have this child without ending her highschool career, doing damage to her body, psyche and family she has stated that she wishes to keep the child. My position is that the her having this child is akin to drugs. While ultimately it is her body and her decision, I am obligated to let her know that I cannot abide by behavior that will be destructive to her future. Is it ethically wrong for me to view the situation this way? Do I have any ethical obligation to the unborn child?


You say, JS, your daughter, let’s just call her JSJr, can ultimately make the decision herself about whether to abort the fetus yet you say you cannot abide by her decision. I wonder to what degree you cannot “abide” by your daughters deicision. Does not abiding mean kicking her and your grandchild out of the house? Does it mean an extended silent treatment and back-handed remarks about her soon-to-be-enlarged thighs?

If it is none of these nastier forms of disabiding and rather just a registered disapproval of her willingness to give birth when she obviously is not prepared to do so, then you may not be putting enough lean on her. There is a balance here that needs to be achieved. Lean too hard and you risk alienating her from her family (what does her father think?) which may or may not result in her having an abortion — depending on how truly dedicated she is. Pat her on the back and she doesn’t abort the fetus. Or, and this is probably the best case scenario, she isn’t even pregnant and has just lied to you to leverage some other teen-angsty agenda… maybe she just wants you to let her to go to the Slipknot concert showing at the Kansas Superdome.

As for your ethical obligation to the “unborn child,” you have none. First it’s not an unborn child, it’s a fetus. And second, as a fetus, it has no conception of itself in a different state (i.e. some time in the future). It may become conscious sometime during the latter part of the second trimester but that does not mean it sees itself as anything but a solid-state object of the world (if it can conceive of a world, or even its own perceptual universe, which it probably can’t) unable to imagine itself as a living being with desires or fears. It is not a moral agent and therefore ethically indistinguishable from a rock or a small reptile. A salamander may be said to have the same value as a fetus as they both act according to mechanical instincts without conception of themselves in a future improved position (the point of life: to improve one’s position/happiness/whatever), and so, in a vacuum, the extent to which it is unethical to kill a salamander it is unethical to abort a fetus. Other consideration, of course, apply but you asked exclusively about your obligation to the “unborn child.”
Sincerely, Michael “never-holding-public-office” Goldman


2 Responses to “Abortion… it’s here!”

  1. S. Dakota Says:

    Down with abortions! Kill the bitches who ask for them!

  2. AEthix Plexis Says:

    Unfortunately the ethicist got drunk tonight and is unable to make his regular contribution. Mothers of pregnant 15-year-olds will have to wait. The ethicist plans to make a full recovery tomorrow morning.

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