Abortion should remain legal in Australia. For many people, abortion is essentially a morality issue, concerning the legal rights of a women’s body and the rights of the fetus. Pro choice and pro life have seen to be the compelling arguments of this issue and will be expressed in this essay. Early Priests of the Catholic church and Early church councils have expressed their views against abortion taking the “pro life” stance. However it is recognised that today there are priests of the Catholic Church who have a deeper understanding of the desire to get an abortion like Father John of Sacred Heart Church. This essay will explain the ethical perspectives and contributions made by different individuals and groups to the debate. Research will be conducted on decision making methods like moral absolutism and Utilitarianism and their strengths and weakness in the debate.
The debate in Australia’s society about the ethical issue of abortion has created an impact on many people and has seen a range of viewpoints expressed by both religious and non-religious individuals and groups. Father William Saunders expresses how the Church has always condemned abortion. This action in a religious view is seen as the direct and purposeful taking of life of the unborn child. Catholic Christians are guided to believe that all life is sacred from conception until natural death, and the taking of innocent human life, whether unborn or born is morally wrong, however Adrianne Walters lawyer and women’s activist, argues that it is JUST as morally wrong to take away her own right to decide what to do with her foetus and her body. Walters wrote an article in the Age newspaper outlining how her grandmother was forced to keep her baby not only based on legal laws in NSW but based around the morals and values of her family. She explained how she felt unloved, discriminated and ultimately scared that she wasn’t able to make this decision for herself. Walters states in Victoria that within 150 meters of a clinic harassment, protests and obstruction of patients is illegal to protect freedom of political communication.
In Victoria, the laws prohibit a range of behaviours within 150 metres of a clinic, such as filming patients and staff and harassing, obstructing or threatening them. They also prohibit a person communicating in a way that is likely to cause anxiety or distress, which the High Court said is a necessary and reasonable restriction on the constitutionally protected freedom of political communication. Walters describes how she understands the views of the Catholic church but how she simply doesn’t agree with them. The Old Testament states “Blessed be the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your livestock”, Father Saunders uses this as an example to highlight the word “live”. He explains how murdering someone living is against the law in Australia and against majority of peoples beliefs, so why isn’t abortion classified the same In people’s minds as he explains it’s the exact same concept applies.
Within the issue of abortion ethics and morality arises, where there are methods of ethical decision making which explores ways ethical problems can be examined and evaluated. An example of an ethical decision-making method is moral absolutism which identifies the idea that moral and ethical principles are universally collective. Religious traditions like Catholicism apply to everyone, regardless of an individual’s personal beliefs and values. Some advantages of this research method are that it gives supportive universal laws exploring individuals’ human rights and privileges, giving a clear moral guidance allowing decision making to be made quickly. However, a negative aspect of this research method that is a dominant factor is that the law has to be obeyed no matter the consequences to the individual, this can be seen as condemnatory and harsh to the individual. Regarding the issue of abortion, not everyone of the Catholic Church will share the same opinions and beliefs, moral absolutism explores that no matter your beliefs it is a requirement to follow laws that have already been made for the individual.
Another decision-making method is Utilitarianism, this research method suggests that actions are defined as being right or correct based on the ability it has to promote happiness. Something is then considered wrong if it creates the opposite reaction. An advantage of this method is that it is a universal concept that everyone can understand, the goal of reducing personal harm while increasing happiness is something that every person pursues at some point. Abortion legally can simply create happiness or unhappiness for an individual, for example a young 16-year-old who “accidently” falls pregnant and wishes to abort her child is made to feel like her wishes and desires are wrong if abortion in Australia were made illegal. Abortion being legal in Australia allows for the mother to choose her decision, ultimately, choose her happiness.
Throughout this essay the key individuals that are identified are Father William Saunders and lawyer Adrianne Walters. These individuals express a religious and non religious view on the act of abortion.
It is clear that Father William Saunders is influenced and driven to be “pro-life” (anti-abortion) due his career and where he sits in society. Father Saunders is a practising Christian who preaches the word of God for. He expresses the need to stand by not only his beliefs but what his colleagues believe and value, his colleagues being other priests, council men and ultimately God. His passion for his career and for the work he does drives his beliefs about abortion in general, he uses the Bible (New and Old Testament) as a guide and rule book to how he should go about his day to day life and about his working life. It is clear that Father Saunders values and beliefs towards abortion are not influenced through by others. I believe that he is influenced by his own passions and what he truly values. He values the word of God and preaching that, therefore is heavily influenced by his dedication to his career which includes him dedicating himself to God.
However Adrianne Walters used a personal story from her passed about her Grandmothers pregnancy to convey her views on abortion. This demonstrated that her views came from another place, a personal matter that was strong enough to impact her when she was only 12 years old. You could also say that Walters was impacted by family and family values. She states her grandmother faught for womens rights and that she is overly grateful that she has the choice and freedom to do what she feels is right for her body. Walters highlights that she understands there is still judgment but can cope with that. It is fair to say that Walters isn’t overly influenced by her religion. She is a Catholic Christian who believes in a number of Bible scriptures and religious miracles, however the Catholic Church opposing to abortion is not a factor that influences Walters beliefs to the matter.
The strongest arguments expressed during the debate of abortion were the “pro-life” and “pro-choice”. Pro life arguing against abortion where Father Saunders expressed his beliefs towards this stance. The pro choice side argued the importance of freedom and choice for an individual’s decision. When researching Utilitarianism, it appeared that that decision making method was most useful when applying the ethical problem to theory. The decision making method explored the importance of happiness and how ultimately if the decision made you happy it was correct. The strengths of this method included are its pragmatic focus on the consequences of an action and its ability to identify that everyone wants happiness. This debate highlights a number of complexities that explore religious beliefs, family values and personal experiences. It can’t be determined whether one complexity is stronger than the other, it can just be noted that they influence individuals differently and to different extents.