Abortion is one of the most controversial moral problems in contemporary world. People believe that the heart of the problem is the conflict between the fetuses' right to life and the women's rights to abortion. However, do women take their rights seriously when they decided to go for an abortion? Or one should look at the issue from the interpretive and pluralist approach? This essay is an attempt to introduce our readers to the problem by looking at three feminist approaches.
Judith Jarvis Thomson and May Anne Warren represent those feminists defending the rights of women to choose abortion. Thomson argues that abortion is justified, even if the fetus has a right to life. For a woman should have the right to refuse the use of her body to a dependent fetus. It is not the obligation of the woman to afford the fetus that use. However, is it morally justifiable for a woman, who willingly accepted the pregnancy, yet suddenly use her right to abortion after hosting the fetus for several months?
What Warren argues is that a fetus does not have those traits characterize "personhood". Since the fetus is not a person, its right to life should not override the right of a woman to choose abortion. However, it is dangerous to use the concept of personhood as a criterion of exclusion. To question someone's personhood is the first step to mistreatment and killing.
While feminists are trying to defend their right to abortion, there are some women abusing their rights. There are women who choose to abort for what they carry are female fetuses. There are also some risked abortions for they do not want to postpone or diminish their partners' sexual pleasure. Moreover, while feminists are defending their rights, are they at the same time oppressing the vulnerable fetuses? Therefore, recently, more and more theorists dissatisfied with rights-based approaches to abortion.
Moreover, according to Carol Gilligan, when women consider for abortion, they do not take the male ethics of duty or obligation. That means they do not approach the decision by rights-based arguments. Usually what women take is an ethics of responsibility or care. Women are more inclined to reflect on how their decisions on abortion might affect the quality of their relationships. Women are making moral decisions in terms of their understanding of the relative importance of their interests versus the interests of others close to them. Although women forgo the right-based approach, the ethics of care is not without its problem. For when similar responsibilities are in conflict, the ethics of care could not provide any means to give a resolution.
What Laurie Shrage advocates is an interpretive, pluralist approach to abortion. She sees the struggle over the women right to abortion as an indicative of deep cultural conflicts over a range of issue including not only the personhood of fetus, but also the meaning of life itself and how it should be lived by women and others. People involved in the debate have different cultural understandings of person hood as well as motherhood. What they need to do is to understand one another and dialogue with a view lo reaching a compromise. Although what Shrage proposed is promising, however, abortion is a life and death issue fueled with emotion. Even the two sides could try to grasp an in-depth understand the other's position, they might not be able to reach an agreement. The abortion issue is not a problem easy to reach a resolution.
墮胎是當代最具爭議性的道德問題之一。但問題的焦點是否是婦女選擇墮胎的權利與胎兒生存權利的取捨？究竟以權利立論為婦女爭取墮胎的自由是否適切？以權利立論是否沒有限制？婦女在考慮墮胎時，是否以從權利的角度出發作決定呢？如果婦女考慮墮胎時，是從關懷的角度出發作決定，則此進路由是否沒有問題呢？當然，如果論辨的雙方能夠彼此了解及對話，能否為解決此爭拗帶來甚幫助呢？本文將會介紹湯森（Judith Jarvis Thomson）及沃倫（Mary Anne Warren）以權利立論為婦女爭取墮胎權的立場，趙凌姬（Carol Gilligan）關懷倫理及徐姿（Laurie Shrage）詮釋及多元的道德進路，並嘗試了解不同進路的限制，目的並不是要解決道德問題，卻是要深化我們對這問題的複雜性的體認。