In the following argument I will be covering how utilitarianism can answer the question of abortion being morally right or wrong. I will be focusing only on the two groups most affected by abortions, the individual seeking an abortion and those that fight against the practice. For the description of the individual seeking a abortion it should be known that they were not raped and that there is no risk of death to the mother. The groups against abortions will be described as protestors and viewed as a whole not a specific organization.
Before we delve into how utilitarianism can answer the question of morality when applied to abortion. We first need to briefly review three core rules of utilitarianism. First, actions are to be solely judged right or wrong by their consequences, nothing else matters. Second, in assessing the consequences of said actions only the amount of happiness and unhappiness generated by the action is important. Last, each person's happiness counts the same, right actions will create the greatest balance of happiness over unhappiness, with each person's happiness being equally important.
Now that we have briefly reviewed what utilitarianism is we can now begin applying the above rules to the heated and emotional question of abortion. In human reproduction the majority of strain and responsibility is placed on the woman to carry, deliver and raise the child. This can put a enormous amount of stress on a woman that does want and is ready to have a child. However for a woman that is not ready and is unable to provide even the basic needs for a child, it will place an unbearable amount of stress. The woman who is not ready will be fearful, anxious and her happiness level will drop to severe levels of unhappiness. These emotional responses for the unready or unable woman will cause her to seek a way to relieve the emotional toll the unwanted pregnancy has brought on.
This is where abortion comes in, abortion is the willful termination of a fetus or embryo before a pregnancy has reached 20 weeks. Many people have shown their disgust and dismay at the termination of a human life by its most trusted protector, the mother. These people against abortion will rally together and hold protests at abortion clinics. They will scream obscenities show gruesome pictures and curse at the scared mothers before they even step foot in to the clinic. This will raise the unhappiness, fear and anxiety levels of the unready mother to crushing levels. Not only is the mother internally struggling with the decision to end their pregnancy but now other people are being very vocal and hateful about her decision. Some mothers are intimidated by the protestors and will reluctantly go forward with the pregnancy.
The consequences of a woman having a child she does not want can be catastrophic not only to the mother and child but to other people in their surrounding community. Medical and Psychological data has shown that a child needs an immense amount of love and structure to develop into a well rounded individual. The mothers of unwanted children are already behind in these categories before the child is born. After the child is born it is rare that the mother will change her mind and become happy about keeping the child, it does happen but rarely. So now the child is born into a home that does not want them and considers them a burden and most of the time the sole reason for parents goals and dreams not being achieved. The happiness level of two or three people are now decreased and stress and unhappiness is increased.
As the life of the child progresses the mother will begin neglecting the child this can deteriorate the child's health causing pain and anguish and a lack of happiness in any form. In a lot of cases of unwanted births death of the child will happen by the parents hand, caused by violent physical abuse. The level of unhappiness and pain placed on the child, the parent and even society for having to hear or witness the death of a child is morally wrong under utilitarianism.
For those children spared a violent end the parent can take a more painful prolonged approach, psychological abuse, many clinicians will agree that psychological damage is far more harmful than physical abuse and helps create dangerous psychopathic adults. As the psychological abuse continues the child's happiness is never considered and will continue to decrease to lower and lower levels. As they start school and see how other parents interact with their child they will begin wondering what is wrong with them, what did they do that caused their parent/parents to hate them so much? Behavior changes will slowly creep in, anger outbursts will eventually happen and the injury of another child or children will be inevitable, decreasing the happiness of innocent children and their families.
For those children lucky enough to survive and escape an abusive childhood, adulthood arrives. Now they are held to the same set of standards placed on all adults regardless of childhood experiences. They are thrown into a world they do not understand and struggle to survive in. Most will turn to some form of substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol will help mask the pain and for once they will feel somewhat happy, even if it is chemically induced. The lack of a supportive family and the teaching of love and affection will cause these new formed adults to treat other people very harshly and sometimes violently resulting in the decreased happiness of countless individuals that the new adult comes in contact with.
So far we have looked at how abortion can help prevent decreased happiness on the individual, the individual family and the individuals that will come into contact with a unwanted child/adult. For utilitarianism to be fully applied to abortion we must now look at the last rule, each person's happiness counts the same, right actions will create the greatest balance of happiness over unhappiness, with each person's happiness being equally important. Utilitarianism must now take into account the unhappiness that is caused by successful abortions on those that protest the act. To understand the level of unhappiness created and to judge if they are truly unhappy by abortions we must examine those that stand against abortion.
Almost all abortion protestors are from a stable loving family, have a reasonable amount of resources and are content enough in their own personal life and ambitions to dedicate their time and effort to a "greater than themselves cause". The happiness caused by a stable, loving family and a reasonable amount of resources is quite great. Abortion protestors are not struggling with meeting their needs or their families needs, if they were they would not have the time or money to protest so adamantly. The last piece of the protestor puzzle is that they all have a moral belief system of religious law. They believe that God exists, that God loves them and that people who turn from God need to be diverted back to his path and they are the ones to do it. The happiness created from a religious law way of life is extremely profound and helps create a self righteous atmosphere amongst the protestors. They are there to save Gods children, do Gods work on earth, some would even argue they where chosen by God to save the babies. The act of protesting on behalf of God becomes a activity that promotes their happiness and the happiness of their fellow protestors.
As we broke down the protestors against abortion the word unhappy evaporated. The act of protesting against abortion may be driven by a adamant disagreement against abortion but it is not unhappiness that causes them to protest. To be completely sure that the act of abortion does not affect the protestors level of happiness, we must also ask does a successful abortion cause them unhappiness or pain.
Are protestors informed by a clinics staff after each abortion is completed? No, so protestors are only there on the chance that one may occur and they do not have any firsthand knowledge when one is completed. Do the protestors have to witness the abortion as it is performed? No, the regulations on who can be in the operating room during a abortion is very rigorous and privacy driven. Lastly, do the protestors have to witness fetuses being mistreated or displayed after the abortion is complete? No, again a high level of respect and integrity are applied to the disposal of the remains (which is far different from the protestors use of gruesome pictures). Do the protestors feel individually responsible when a abortion occurs? No, there is no individual carrying of guilt or pain, they will not live with the persons decision and wondering what might have been. The protestors go home to content lives and families and will wrap themselves in their religious law beliefs and feel contentment, love and happiness.
After reviewing the individuals and groups that are impacted the most by abortions we have enough to reach a decision on abortions being morally right or morally wrong. An abortion can help relieve fear, anxiety and unhappiness of a mother/father that is not ready for a child. Abortion will stop that child from being raised in a loveless abusive home and the chance of a violent painful death. Abortion can also help stop the vicious cycle of broken homes, abusive families and people growing up to have psychological issues brought on by abusive practices that can impact a community harshly. Abortion raises the happiness level of those that fight hard against it. Protestors feel a sense of happiness, self worth and in some instances that their actions are being divinely guided. Both groups benefit from the act of abortion and if we look at the second rule of utilitarianism, in assessing the consequences of said actions only the amount of happiness and unhappiness generated by the action is important. When viewing the consequences of an abortion it becomes clear that abortions do not cause unhappiness, abortion promotes happiness, making the act of abortion morally right.