This was an answer on Medium to the well known feminist writer Jessica Valenti who had written a piece, “the truth about late-term abortion“. In my view, and I believe in the view of any serious thinker on this issue from the point of view of the morality of abortion, the ethical issue at the heart of the debate is that of personhood and when that is conferred on a human foetus. For the vast majority of philosophers (some pragmatists and utilitarians as notable exceptions), a person has intrinsic value because they are a person, not because of something they might do or become. Thus, we cannot arbitrarily terminate “persons” without being guilty of murder. Furthermore, the murder of the innocent, in most cultures, would be considered the most brutal murder worthy of the most severe punishment. The contemporary abortion debate seems to totally ignore this in favour of a “right to choose” which I believe is a totally incorrect focus for the debate. It is never moral to do something criminal however free I might be to commit the act.
This shorter than my normal length piece (for I had already considered personhood and abortion in detail elsewhere), rather contrasted a concurrent campaign by the Vegan society on TFL (London) busses, that had as a hook “What is Veganism? Recognising Me (A Sheep) As Someone Not Something” with the debate around the New York legislature’s removal of all protection from unborn children and the approval of this kind of abortion. My point being that “personhood” for a sheep is considered a valid moral objection to the meat industry but “personhood” for a human baby is not granted the same significance. For example, it also touches on “post-birth” abortions which were being talked about at the same time because of the views of a Democrat governor who apparently, as a paediatrician, was happy to countenance this, if, for example, a baby was unexpectedly born with a disability. The born-alive baby could be “made comfortable” whilst the family discussed it and terminated if that was the decision. Such a position is perfectly reasonable if the premise is that a human baby has no value by virtue they are a human being but only because of some contingent quality that develops through their life.
You can find it here.