“Abortion, Execution, And The Moral Weight Of Fetuses” from Dear Diaspora

By , May 12, 2009 11:19 pm

I’ve mentioned Daisy’s blog Dear Diaspora before, because it’s been a really interesting read. Her most recent post, Abortion, Execution, And The Moral Weight Of Fetuses, discusses a situation brought up over on Feministe:

Anyway, we last week we got the news that Orobator [a British woman in jail in Laos on drug charges] will not be executed due to the fact that she is pregnant. Obviously the fetus’ life is more important than the grown woman’s, as the fetus is “innocent” and the woman may or may not be guilty of committing a crime.

Daisy’s post is about the morality of the death penalty and of abortion, and the specifics of Orobator’s situation, and she asks some difficult questions:

Several questions are looming here, firstly: is capital punishment ethical? If one thinks execution for drug smuggling is a reasonable punishment, than the fetus’ innocence is in fact paramount here — not because fetuses are more important than women, but because one believes execution is an appropriate consequence for a given a crime, and, therefore, not an appropriate consequence for someone who is innocent.

On the other hand, if the death penalty is unethical — either for this particular charge or for all crimes — the fetus’ innocence is immaterial, since the execution is already wrong, whether a person is guilty or not. At the same time, the fetus’ existence may be relevant, since it may make the execution even more wrong, depending on whether it is ethical to kill fetuses.

Which brings us to our next question: is it ethical to kill a fetus? Is a fetus a life with any moral weight? Do we have an obligation to consider fetuses and their well-being?

As usual, Daisy answers her own questions with well-reasoned writing, and I definitely encourage you to go check it out.


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