“Why Abortion Is Immoral” the Article by Don Marquis


The selected text for analysis relates to the ethical issue of abortion since its title is “Why Abortion is Immoral” by Don Marquis. In his argument, Marquis explains that abortion is an immoral act because it entails depriving an innocent human of the right to life (183). In this view, a fetus and an adult being have equal rights to life because they have a similar identity of being humans. However, against the premise of moral status, Don Marquis argues that abortion is an immoral act, irrespective of the conditions of a fetus meeting the moral status of an adult. In this perspective, the way people determine the moral status of a fetus is arbitrary.

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For instance, anti-abortionists argue that morally permissible abortions occur in cases of rape, critical sickness of the mother, and before implantation of a fetus (Marquis 184). Since these cases are subjective and indefinite, abortion has persisted in being an ethical issue. Therefore, Don Marquis holds that abortion is an immoral action because the killing of a human being is legally and morally wrong.

From the perspective of consequentialism, abortion is morally wrong because it deprives a fetus of life and the future. Marquis explains that abortion is immoral since it deprives a fetus of essential elements of life, namely enjoyment, experiences, and activities (187). Since a fetus has the same future as an adult human being, abortion causes an immeasurable loss of potential life. Although people with chronic conditions understand that their future potential has diminished, they feel unfortunate and pain for such a significant loss in their lives. The loss of the future of a fetus and people with chronic illnesses have similar experiences, which point out the immorality of abortion.

The immorality of abortion does not only apply to humans because other animals in the universe have a comparable future, which deserves protection from killers. However, the subjective nature of future value makes abortion immoral because a fetus is not involved in the assessment (Marquis 189). The sanctity of life requires the preservation and protection of human life in all forms irrespective of the value attached to it during all developmental stages.

The deontological perspective regards abortion as an immoral action that degrades humanity and disrespects sanctity-of-life. Immanuel Kant allegorized that individuals who are cruel to animals are also cruel to humans (Marquis 192). This allegory shows that abortion is an immoral act because it originates from the cruel nature of humans. In this view, a humane person cannot kill a fetus or support abortion because it is an act of cruelty, which is manifested in the behavior of people.

Marquis argues that infliction of pain on animals and abortion have similarities because they examine the morality of an action and its consequences (190). Abortion is wrong because it reflects the cruelty of humans towards their own or other species. Moreover, the consequences of abortion are dire since they deprive a fetus of life and an immense future.

The theoretical perceptive of human property considers abortion as immoral because a fetus has attributes and features of humans. Pro-abortionists argue that since fetuses do not have a valuable future that is comparable to adult humans, they do not have moral status. Marquis argues that adults are subjective in valuing the future of fetuses because they do not count innate attributes ingrained in their property as humans (198).

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Even though a fetus cannot value its potential future, its moral status is not meager for other humans to disregard. The use of contraception is immoral, as in the case of abortion, because it harms sperms, ova, and zygote, leading to the termination of a fetus in the womb of a mother. Hence, the human properties that a fetus possesses are significant since they confer moral status.

Analysis from the Perspective of Ethical Theories


From the perspective of altruism, abortion is moral if it benefits other people in society apart from the mother who perpetrates it. According to altruism, an action is moral if it has a favorable impact on other people in the social matrix, irrespective of the consequences it has on the actor (Phalen 2). In this case, since the fetus is a victim and the reason for the abortion is a selfish act to benefit the mother, it constitutes an immoral act. Therefore, altruism perceives abortion as an immoral act as it aims to benefit a mother and victimizes a fetus.


The analysis of abortion from the perspective of egoism shows that actions that mothers take are considered moral. The ethical theory of egoism requires individuals to perform acts that promote their interests in society (Phalen 33). In the case of abortion, the mother has a moral duty to decide on whether to terminate or retain her pregnancy, depending on prevailing conditions that promote self-interest. Based on egoism, it is moral for a mother to terminate her pregnancy if it results in significant social and economic benefits. For instance, when the life of a mother is under threat of pregnancy, abortion is considered a remedy based on moral grounds.


Utilitarianism recognizes abortion as a moral action when it benefits the mother, family members, and other members of society. The premise of utilitarianism is that an action should have optimum benefits for many people in society (Phalen 4). When a fetus does not meet the moral status of a human due to physical and mental disabilities, abortion is a moral intervention. A child with significant physical and mental disabilities would have a pitiable quality of life, becomes overdependent due to the inability to perform activities of daily living, requires expensive medical services, and impoverishes the family. In this view, abortion based on utilitarianism would save the fetus, the mother, family, and society a great deal of suffering.


From the deontological perspective, abortion is immoral because it violates sanctity-of-life and degrades human nature. According to deontological theory, the morality of an action is dependent on its properties in relation to rules, laws, and principles that govern humanity (Phalen 33). Since abortion entails depriving an individual right to life, which is a sacred and matchless attribute of humans, it is an immoral action. A fetus has an inherent right to life and none has the right to deprive it. Therefore, the analysis of abortion shows that it is an immoral act that goes against rules, laws, and principles of life.

Virtue ethics

Virtue ethics considers abortion as an immoral action because it violates the normative values of a person. Virtue ethics holds that a morally upright person undertakes virtuous actions that are in line with established norms in society (Phalen 4). In the case of abortion, virtue ethics perceives it as a vice that degrades humanity since it espouses cruelty, selfishness, uncompassionate, and spitefulness in humans. People who perform abortions are deemed immoral in society because they do not exhibit caring, compassionate, humane, and considerate attributes in their character. These virtues are essential in the protection and upbringing of children as vulnerable groups.

Social Contract

Since pregnancy is a product of a social contract of two people, parents have a moral duty to protect and care for a fetus. Social contract theory holds that people an implicit obligation of ensuring that they uphold individual and communal rights according to prevailing legislation (Phalen 5). At the family level, the father and mother have an obligation of ensuring that they treat their fetus as a human and offer the necessary protection. Since abortion violates the obligation of parents to care for and protect their fetus, it constitutes an immoral action.

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Natural Law

The natural law considers abortion as an immoral act since it deprives a fetus of the inherent right to life, which everyone enjoys, irrespective of status or condition. The ethics of natural law indicates that abortion is an evil act that enables a human being to usurp the powers of the creator by taking away innocent lives (Greasley 189). In society, everyone has right-to-life and none has the power to deprive the other, except the creator. Hence, from the perspective of natural law, it is immoral to undertake abortion.

Positive law

Positive law treats abortion as a crime unless under exceptional circumstances where the life of a mother is threatened, or a fetus does not meet the required moral status as advised by doctors. The evolution of society has led to the formulation of comprehensive legislation called positive law, which guides people on how to undertake moral actions (Greasley 39). Thus, the analysis of abortion from the perspective of positive law shows that it is an immoral act that is subject to stringent regulations for it to be permissible.


From the perspective of relativism, abortion is both immoral and moral act, depending on culture and legal jurisdiction. According to relativism, the morality of an action is not absolute because it varies according to norms, cultures, and jurisdictions (Greasley 206). In this case, abortion is legal in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, while illegal in Chile, Angola, and Iran. In countries where abortion is legal, a woman is free to request and procure abortion from healthcare centers without violating established laws.


Nihilists regard abortion as morally right because they do not value life as an inherent sacred gift from the creator of the universe. Nihilism holds that life has no meaning, and the existence of humanity is merely due to chance without any deliberate efforts of the creator. In this view, nihilists disregard religious and moral principles, which form the basis of natural law and protect the weak in society. Thus, nihilists tend to support abortion because they perceive life as meaningless, empty, and dissolute.

The Best Solution

The analysis of the ethical issue based on the ten ethical theories shows that utilitarianism offers the best solution. Given that utilitarianism focuses on the outcomes of abortion, it provides an appropriate analysis of the morality of an action. In society, humans perform certain actions to achieve specific ends, which are often beneficial to humanity. Another advantage of utilitarianism is that it considers benefits accrued from a given action (Greasley 223). In this case, abortion is permissible if its benefits are more than the losses. For instance, abortion is permissible if it relieves the infant of excessive suffering, saves the life of the mother, reduces medical costs, and eliminates lifetime dependency.

Works Cited

Greasley, Kate. Arguments about Abortion: Personhood, Morality, and Law. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Marquis, Don. “Why Abortion is Immoral.” The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 86, no. 4, 1989, pp. 183-202.

Phalen, Robert. Core Ethics for Health Professionals: Principles, Issues, and Compliance. Springer, 2017.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, June 25). “Why Abortion Is Immoral” the Article by Don Marquis. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/why-abortion-is-immoral-the-article-by-don-marquis/

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"“Why Abortion Is Immoral” the Article by Don Marquis." StudyCorgi, 25 June 2021, studycorgi.com/why-abortion-is-immoral-the-article-by-don-marquis/.

1. StudyCorgi. "“Why Abortion Is Immoral” the Article by Don Marquis." June 25, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/why-abortion-is-immoral-the-article-by-don-marquis/.


StudyCorgi. "“Why Abortion Is Immoral” the Article by Don Marquis." June 25, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/why-abortion-is-immoral-the-article-by-don-marquis/.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "“Why Abortion Is Immoral” the Article by Don Marquis." June 25, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/why-abortion-is-immoral-the-article-by-don-marquis/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) '“Why Abortion Is Immoral” the Article by Don Marquis'. 25 June.

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