Abortion is perceived as a morally incorrect action and meets several discriminative opinions from society representatives. Some individuals stand for saving a life of a newborn whose fate is decided by the singular woman carrying it. Ethics as the science seeking morally correct judgments also tries to understand the issue from all sides studying whether it is fair to protect women’s rights or the rights of the fetus. When the abortion is done after a rape or incest, the complication of the problem triples as morally it becomes harder to find the right answer. This paper will focus on trying to investigate the morality of the case and which action is supposed to be right or wrong.
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Detailed Description of the Case
Rape is considered a morally evil action because of its assault, violation, forced body contact, pain, and humiliation. After this action, a victim can develop serious physical and mental health disorders as well as be infected with sexually transmitted diseases. After a rape, the victim oftentimes develops post-traumatic stress disorder, and retributive justice does not always help the offender, or the victim get through various struggles (Monday 1). From a moral point of view, carrying a child against a woman’s will from a person she was not attracted to is mentally and psychologically intricate. These reasons together with the incapability to care about a child’s future, provide financial and social support, decent upbringing to the child are usually decisive in taking an abortion. Estimating the reasons mentioned above, it is hard to judge a woman taking such a decision as caring about a child’s future might be perceived as considering his or her rights and future opportunities.
Incest is a sexual activity between family members or close relatives that is illegal in some countries due to the risk of developing serious genetic disorders. Still, in the United States, there is no law prohibiting incest. Pregnancies occurring as a result of close family members’ connections might lead to a greater number of children born with disabilities and genetic mutations. At the same time, the issue is complicated as people have the freedom to choose a partner of life, be attracted to any person, and have feelings for people of different ethnicity, culture, gender, and origin. Ethical quandaries that are needed to be discussed are the freedom of choice of an individual contradicts with moral principles of up-to-date society.
Alasdair MacIntyre’s Ethical Theory in Virtue Ethics
American philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre studies the subject of morale in modern society and proposes various solutions and ideas regarding contradictions appearing because of it. MacIntyre believes that morality meets various conflicts and has lost sense due to moral catastrophes that happened in the past. The virtue of ethics, as a part of normative ethics and MacIntyre’s philosophy, emphasizes the virtue, or moral human character as a true motivation for any action (MacIntyre 13). The virtue of ethics is the opposite in sense of deontology or consequentialism that underlie the importance of rules and consequences of actions respectively. By practicing and developing personalia, humans can become closer to being moral and ethically correct rather than following society’s opinion. Additionally, a proper political environment should be created to liberate people from prejudices and initiate their search for their goods.
MacIntyre considers virtue as an acquired human feature that can lead him to the good only via its constant enhancement and growth. Practicing being honest, brave, and just the person can develop a moral character (MacIntyre 43). Consequently, morality is not prisoned in the opinion of the majority in the community, it is the personal growth of each individual that interacts with other people. Sometimes, social pressure can lead to dilemmas and incorrect actions, and it is in the person’s will to decide his fate within the borders of law. Social stigma is oftentimes prejudicial, discriminative, and followed by major opinions, and it cannot represent the truth or morality.
MacIntyre also states that in the process of being a virtue, practicing honesty, and justice the person can become moral. His decisions should be based on genuine motives, not rationality, social judgments, or cultural perceptions of morality. Practice according to MacIntyre is a complex social activity that follows a human through an experience during which he acquired internal and external virtues. A person who wants to practice good can rely on his feelings and senses and make the right move. Such philosophy can be viewed variously depending on what virtues the decision is based on.
Assessing the theory and the case study, it has to be stated that the situation can be interpreted differently depending on a person’s virtues. For instance, the woman after the rape feels depressed, humiliated, and weak. The list of her virtues involved having a child from the man she truly loves, raising a child in a family with two parents, to get pregnant into the official marriage whilst being happy. All the statements represent an honest will to be a happy woman, create a strong family, and have a child created in love, not violence. The woman has the freedom to make an abortion to successfully recover from the violent event and become more psychologically prepared for childbirth.
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On the other side, a religious friend the woman has might have various virtues and advise the victim of a rape to believe that God will heal all her sores and that this child is still a part of her that cannot be abandoned (Das 23). Thus, a religious friend has virtues of faith and love above other ones, which means the moral agents of the woman and her friend disagree with each other. Proponents of this ethical theory might accept only one side following the human nature of being a conformist. However, a true proponent will take a side of a major person in the case study, a woman that is pregnant after being raped. From a third perspective, the woman might get into the practice of fear (for instance, fear of never having a child again after abortion) and take the opposite decision from her actual will. Then, according to MacIntyre, she is followed by an internal factor that gets her further away from morality and development.
The ethical theory does not disclose the process of developing morality by a person not possessing any from the start. The rapist, for example, is a human that needs a long path of change to develop high moral values. Without motivation or good motives to change, it is hard to imagine one changing and following the practices leading to virtue. Additionally, moral reasoning is partially a complicated way of thinking that requires flexibility, criticism of self, and a great willingness to change. People are rarely possessing such unique features, and most of them do not seek change in general. Regarding justice, it is hard to implement a theory to decide on the borders of law. Per contra, it becomes too easy to understand each individual, and get confused whilst distinguishing wrong from right.
Das, Kabita. “On Abortion: Spontaneous and Induced”. International Journal of Advanced Research, vol. 5, no. 4, 2017, pp. 20-26. Web.
MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. London: Gerald Duckworth & co. Ltd., 1981.
Monday, Osebor Ikechukwu. “Ethics of Cognitive Restructuring: A Rehabilitation of Rape Victims and Offenders”. Bioethics, vol. 6, 2020, pp. 1-4. Web.