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A Rational Look at the Abortion Controversy

A Rational Look at the Abortion Controversy

One of the most hotly contested issues inside and outside of biomedical ethics today is abortion. The discussion received a new impetus at the release of the controversial abortion drug RU-486, “a pill to increase access to abortions and let women get them privately from their own doctor instead of facing shouting protesters at clinics.”2 As is the case with all controversial issues, there are very passionate people on both sides of the fence. Unfortunately, a heated discussion on abortion can easily and quickly turn into a battle of rhetoric rather than a dialectic of reason. But the guiding light in such a discussion must always be reason, not rhetoric or other fallacies, for only reason can solve this issue and judge which side is correct.

In this brief essay, I shall attempt to clear away some of the confusion present in typical abortion debates by cooling the rhetoric with reason enlightened by scientific facts. Specifically, I will examine two common pro-abortion arguments made by Mary Anne Warren and Judith Jarvis Thomson and demonstrate that they cannot stand up to rational scrutiny and therefore fail to justify abortion. I shall also use a

“quadrilemma” argument similar to that of Peter Kreeft’s to show that, aside from all specific argumentation, abortion cannot be morally justified.

Before even beginning to discuss the issue of abortion, it is imperative to agree upon a starting point from which to reason. The fact that some people differ even about this very point tends to render the pro-abortion and the anti-abortion paradigms somewhat “incommensurable,” and this is probably one major reason why people are tempted to arrive at different conclusions about this …

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…ilure is equal to an unwanted pregnancy due to rape is nothing short of ridiculous. The sexual act by nature tends towards pregnancy, i.e., that is the natural purpose of the sexual act, and any woman who engages in this act voluntarily, with or without contraception, thereby willingly opens herself to pregnancy.

20 Wilcox, “Nature as Demonic,” 468.

21 Wilcox, “Nature as Demonic,” 468f.

22 M. LeRoy Sprang and Mark G. Neerhof, “Rationale for Banning Abortions Late in Pregnancy,” Journal of the American Medical Association 280, no. 8 (1998): 745.

23 Sprang and Neerhof, “Banning Abortions,” 745.

24 Cf. Peter Kreeft, Making Choices: Practical Wisdom for Everyday Moral Decisions (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1990), 119-21.

25 One might object that “abortion is morally neutral” is another possibility, but that which is morally neutral is morally permissible.

Characterization in Hamlet

“In some respects we can know fictional characters even better than we know people.” The author of Literature, Structure, Sound, and Sense makes an important point about fictional characters. An author can “make” or “break” a story by how they portray the characters as well as how relatable they are. An author can also make a story interesting by using different types of characters, as well as following the three principles of a good character. Shakespeare uses these concepts in Hamlet to brilliantly display his characters and allow readers to relate to each of them.

The protagonist in this play is Hamlet. Hamlet is a character presented indirectly, because readers are not told explicitly who Hamlet is. Throughout the story readers learn new things about him. Hamlet even tells other characters in the story that there is more to him than they know. Even at the end of the story readers may not feel like they completely understand Hamlet. Hamlet is also a round character. Hamlet is a very complex individual, who is philosophical as well as contemplative. Readers see many sides of Hamlet, from his “love” with Ophelia in the beginning and then his carefree approach to her later, as well as his passionate fight for revenge over his father’s death. Hamlet also develops during the entire play. Readers at first see Hamlet’s disbelief when confronted by the ghost but through some investigating, mainly the play used to prove Claudius’ guilt, Hamlet finally comes to realize that his uncle really did kill his father.

Hamlet also follows the three principles of a good character: consistent, motivated, and plausible. Hamlet is consistent throughout the whole story. Even when readers see him change and develop, it is because of a significant event in the story. An example of this is the change in actions towards Ophelia. Hamlet starts out treating Ophelia lovingly, but because of her rudeness to him he starts to back off. He is also motivated, as he attempts to find his father’s killer and seek revenge. Hamlet is also a plausible character. He is not completely removed from human nature, as readers see him struggle with emotions and revenge. He also is not the “perfect” human as he is subject to rage and impulses.

This character is essential to this story because he is the protagonist. Without Hamlet there is no story.

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