Michael Tooley in the article, “Abortion and Infanticide,” supports abortion, the termination of pregnancy; and infanticide, terminating a life of a newly born baby. Tooley discusses the important qualities or the fundamental aspects one should have in order to have the right to live or the right to own life. He disproves the traditional contention that, a foetus and infant have right to life by arguing that they do not meet the aspects required for them to be considered as organisms deserving to live. First, Tooley identifies that the reasons for arguing for the acceptance of abortion are that a fetus is not a person and a new born child has to be free from severe deformities.
The central idea to Tooleys argument is that, the time at which a member of the homo sapiens group can be regarded as a person is when it possesses a concept of a self, as it becomes a subject of continuing mental states such as experiences, and on its self believes it is such a continuing entity. He holds that it is after fulfilling this self-consciousness stage that an organism can be said to have serious right to life. Tooley proposes the timeline for the termination of the life of a new born baby to be a week, pending psychologists’ determination on the exact time a child gains sense of the self. He argues that at birth, the newborn clearly has no sense of the self and no serious right of life, therefore it is the appropriate time for most desirable infanticides to be done.
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To me, the timeline for allowance of abortion and infanticide proposed by Tooley is outrageous. In line with this, I partially support the argument B.A Brody which Tooley rejects in the article, that; whichever the case, human life and person are equal since a person comes from the human life development right from zygote to fetus to a new born then adult and, ‘taking of a human life is an action that has a bad consequences for him whom life is being taken’. The only point of objection to this is that I believe that a person gains right to live at around the third trimester of pregnancy. Abortion can not be accepted after the fetus becomes viable (when it can exist outside the mother’s body) unless it poses life threatening conditions to the mother. Once the child becomes viable, its mother and society should respect it as a unique person with a right to live. It would be very immoral to follow Tooley’s idea that a child does not have the right to exist in the body of the mother out claims of owning the body and deciding on what to do with it. I believe people should be governed by certain standards of responsibility for the choices they make especially when the choices may harm others’ lives.
Tooleys proposals are outrageous since he not only supports abortion at any stage of the pregnancy but also, the killing of the child once it is born. Since viable unborn fetus have a right to live, caution should be applied on whether to perform abortion on case by case basis. In addition, since Tooley makes the argument on infanticide to cater for malformed babies, I believe that there are other ways to deal with deformities once a child is born rather than infanticide. Other than killing the babies, corrective measures should be attempted and if these fail, other measures like mercy killing should be made available to the parents. This would guard against killings of undeserving babies as might happen if the parents indiscriminately desire to do so.