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Kantianism of Morality and Immorality of Abortion


Immanuel Kant’s ethics is one of the most widely taught deontological views. Kantian ethics may be the subject of a separate series, but for this paper it will focus on the morality and immorality of abortion as part of an attempt to understand human morality. Is it morally right or unethical to ponder the implications of our actions? Read on to see how some of our favorite philosophers respond to these topics. Well, Kantianism, the school of thought established by 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, is quite basic. Kantianism is based on following the moral code. There is no moral philosophy that demands the killing of an innocent person.

Literature review

Since the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion as a medical treatment thirty-eight years ago, the issue of abortion has sparked various social and political disputes. In this heightened current environment, it would be reasonable to analyze the moral application of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy, which was developed by one of the finest minds of the eighteenth century, to the ongoing morality discussion over abortion. Setting the debate over the morality and immorality of abortion within a Kantian ethics framework allows one to move away from the sometimes incendiary pro-choice and anti-abortion debate points and into a profound, logical, philosophical study of such a contentious issue. Kant’s ethical theory on abortion’s immorality emphasizes that everyone is equipped with some feeling of dignity and respect (Marquis, D. 2007).

According to Kant’s thesis, all human behaviors and activities are carried out solely because they are seen to be the correct and acceptable thing to do. Furthermore, people’s attitudes and activities are judged based on their moral acceptability rather than any other criteria. In light of the fact that killing another person is prohibited, Kant would argue that abortion is unquestionably immoral (Marquis, 2007). Although, many Kantian agents would agree that abortion is ethically immoral since it takes the life of a rational being. Many people believe that a woman’s autonomy in making decisions about her body part outweighs an unborn child’s right to life.

Although Kant never directly talked about abortion, his rules are a guide to establish moral claims. Human life must be respected. Because the fetus in the womb moves and has a life, it can be considered a human. According to him the fetus has a future because every human being has a future. They will be able to do anything in life. The fetus has a bright future ahead of him. If you destroy the fetus, you are robbing it of its future and opportunity to do anything. Killing is never a good idea. It is immoral and unethical to abort a fetus for no good reason.

The Philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the Argument against Abortion In today’s culture and abortion is a hotly discussed subject. Abortion is something that happens on a daily basis. Although Kant claims that terminating a pregnancy before the birth of a child is unethical. Kant would be adamantly opposed to abortion in at least some, if not all, situations. If we believe that the fetus is a true human person which it most certainly is at later stages of development, it has a reasoning character and must thus be treated as an aim in itself. It is forbidden to terminate it since doing so is treating it as a means. In other words abortion results in an unjust death. However what if the mother’s life is in risk? What if the baby was undesired and the mother was raped? (Varden, 2012)

Kant would likely say that the mother has a moral duty to herself to sacrifice her life rather than abort the fetus, but she could never be forced into doing so. In more difficult circumstances, such as when aborting the fetus is necessary to save the mother’s life. Kant said the mother has no right to sacrifice her own life for the fetus and therefore termed the act as immoral (Varden, 2012). It is even more difficult to judge in circumstances where the mother’s life is not in risk. You could argue that by choosing to terminate the pregnancy, she is attacking it, and in that scenario, abortion would be legal. If that is not the case, he will probably argue it’s ethically bad, but it’s not permissible to pressure them into not doing it. Although fetus are innocent, when the mother’s life it at risk and the only option to save her is abortion then it is moral to abort in that case. Kant claims that murdering the fetus because the mother was raped is unacceptable. As previously said, murdering an innocent person is unethical. There are many additional factors to consider. When a person reaches adulthood, they will realize that the manner he or she was born was due to rape. That is not morally right. Also, killing would be wrong because who knows what achievements it could have accomplished in

Abortion is unethical in general. There are some borders that decent people do not cross, regardless of what they do. If you have the potential to stop a killer and you don’t, are you morally pure because you did not kill? Or are you ethically wrong because you refused to perform what was required of you? Just like a man a woman came together a right for both sexes to acquire each other as a person in the manner of things by marriage, so there arises from procreation in this community a duty to preserve and care for its offspring (Denis, 2007). In other words, parents have the legal right to care for their children until they are competent to care for themselves, and this right is established directly by law, meaning that no particular act is necessary to establish the right to abortion after man and woman has come together to live as married couples.

Kant claimed that morality should be based on the shared ability of people to reason, and that it is this ability that makes mankind ethically meaningful. As a result, he believed that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. For the offspring is a person, it is immoral for its parents to take away its life for their freedom (Vaughn, 2015). So, from a practical standpoint, it is perfectly reasonable and even necessary to regard procreation as an action by which two people have brought a person into the world without his consent and on our own initiative. For these reasons the parents owe it to the fetus or child to make him as happy as possible in his circumstances. The child is a citizen of the world and the parents should not treat it as their property or product in which they can do whatever they like with it.

No one would argue that all pregnant women should have abortions, and only a few would argue that no pregnant women should have abortions at all, even if it puts their lives in jeopardy. We may look at abortion from two perspectives at the same time, regarding another person as a means to an end. Would Kant treat an unborn kid with dignity? If this is the case, an abortion may be viewed as a means to an end. Legalizing abortion, on the other hand, regards a woman as a tool for producing children (Vaughn, 2015). Personally, I don’t believe any of these viewpoints could be derived with any degree of certainty from Kant’s writings. But, given that all but the most adamant opponents of abortion would allow abortion if the mother’s life was in danger, and that every single mother’s life was in danger back then with no guarantee that a child would live a day, a month, a year, or a decade*, I believe Kant would agree that this is a practical matter for the practical reason to decide, and thus is neither a moral nor an immoral action.


It may be difficult to judge Kant because he never expressly addressed the ethics of abortion in his writings; we can only speculate. This might just be a question of practical reasons to adopt in the future, in which case it is not moral nor immoral, but rather practical. We can easily believe that abortion was not the major concern it is now in a society where infant mortality and dying while giving birth were widespread. That was not the case. Despite the fact that pennyroyal tea and other forms of abortion have been easily available to women for millennia, abortion has only lately become a topic of theological and ethical debate. Kant may have simply believed that a woman should be allowed to use her reason to weigh the dangers and commitments of any of these options and choose what she wanted. Matters for the practical reason, such as decisions concerning vocations, do not need to accord with categorical imperatives.


Denis, L. (2007). Abortion and Kant’s Formula of Universal Law. Canadian journal of philosophy37(4), 547-579.

Marquis, D. (2007). An argument that abortion is wrong. Ethical theory: An anthology, 439-50.

Vaughn, L. (2015). Doing ethics: Moral reasoning and contemporary issues. WW Norton & Company.

Varden, H. (2012). A feminist, Kantian conception of the right to bodily integrity: the cases of abortion and homosexuality. Out of the Shadows, 33-57.


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