Mary Anne Warren Abortion Summary

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In her original writing “On The Moral and Legal Status of Abortion”, Mary Anne Warren thoroughly assesses the legal standing of abortion to be just and fair based upon the possession of these criteria for humanity: consciousness, reasoning, self-motivated activity, flexible communication skills, and self-concept—characteristics a fetus supposedly lacks. When Warren undermines the argument in which life begins at conception, she establishes a liberal, pro-choice position to abortion. In my thesis, I will discuss the problem for infanticide that emerges under Warren’s argument, her equivocated response to infanticide, and ultimately how Warren’s argument is flawed due to her evasiveness on the topic. First, I will explain how the problem of…show more content…
According to Warren, “infanticide is a form of murder, and thus never justified” (Warren, 71). With that statement in mind, Warren castigates the logic in which if one justifies late-term abortion then infanticide is justified as well. She provides a distinction between a fetus and a neonate, claiming that once an infant is born, “its continued life cannot pose any serious life to the woman’s life or health, since she is free to put it up for adoption” (Warren, 72). Since society can afford to subsidize orphanages and state institutions, “it is wrong to destroy any infant which has a chance of living a reasonably satisfactory life” (Warren, 72). She equivocates on the topic by mentioning that the highly civilized Greeks and Romans “have permitted the practice of infanticide” (Warren, 72) under the circumstance that adoption and other services were unavailable. Warren highlights her evasiveness to the question by stating that to place moral regression on both civilizations demonstrates a serious lack of understanding. Her equivocation is further defined when she claims that infanticide is wrong “since there is no legal category which adequately or conveniently expresses the force of our society’s disapproval of this action” (Warren, 73), implying that Warren does not believe in a one-way view towards infanticide, though according to her (our) society, perhaps should be morally wrong.…show more content…
This is the case because she argues in her postscript thoroughly as to why infanticide should be morally wrong, but escapes the logic of her argument in the end by stating that it is understandable how infanticide would be permissible under specific circumstances. To explain, I will base my assessment on how Warren equivocates on her main point on adoption. Warren initially argues “so long as people feel this way [about valuing the life of an infant], and so long as our society can afford to provide care for infants…it is wrong to destroy any infant” (Warren, 72). Warren later states, contrarily, that “it is not morally wrong to cease or withhold treatment” (Warren, 73) to an infant with severe mental or physical handicaps so families can be relieved of any burdens. Just as Warren advocates for the liberty of a mother over a fetus’s life, she similarly advocates for the liberty of a family over an ill-fated infant’s life. Warren undermines her point that infanticide is wrong by ironically claiming that if an ill-fated infant is unwanted, it can be terminated, even when society can afford to provide adoption and care “with the most heroic of medical treatment” (Warren, 73). If we follow through with Warren’s logic, there is no difference between an unwanted fetus whose right to life does not trump its mother’s right to liberty and an unwanted, ill-fated infant who longer poses a threat to a woman’s life and has access to society’s

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