A Critique of John T. Noonan's an Almost Absolute Value in History

1257 Words Aug 8th, 2013 6 Pages
A Critique of An Almost Absolute Value in History “An Almost Absolute Value in History,” by John Noonan, argues against the morality of abortion at any time during a pregnancy. According to Noonan (2012) humanity begins at the moment of conception. Therefore, the unborn child has the inherent right to live, and abortion at any stage of gestation would be the equivalent of murder (p. 472). He makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. The only exception he makes is when continuing a pregnancy puts the mother’s life at risk. His arguments are strong against abortion at a later stage of pregnancy, but they are not as strong in arguing that abortion is immoral as soon as fertilization of an ovum occurs. …show more content…
The last theory of humanity that Noonan (2012) rejects is that of social visibility: that a fetus does not have humanity because it is not yet considered a part of society, and it cannot communicate with others. Noonan argues that by this definition, individuals or entire groups that have lost their position in society would no longer be considered human. He also states that “anyone conceived by a man and a woman is human.” He cites actual points in history when certain people were “dehumanized” by society (P. 470). These cases are very different from the case of an unborn child. The groups that Noonan refers to were considered human at some point. The question concerning the unborn child is, was it ever human? Also, individuals that have been “dehumanized” still have the ability to communicate with others, even if they choose not to. An unborn fetus has no means of communication whatsoever. In defending his view that humanity begins at conception, John Noonan (2012) brings probabilities into his discussion. He believes that probability should be a part of all moral reasoning. He reasons that any spermatozoon or oocyte has a very small chance of becoming a human being; therefore it is not immoral for one of these cells to be destroyed. At conception, however, this probability shifts from less than 1 in 200 million to 4 in 5. Now that the fertilized

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