Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Jonathan F. Garthoff

Committee Members

Jonathan F. Garthoff, Matthew P. Pamental, Michael J. Higdon, Paula Schaefer


This thesis will delve into the moral arguments regarding abortion. I will argue that abortion is morally permissible until the fetus reaches consciousness. Once the fetus has gained consciousness, it has the capacity to develop and become an autonomous person and therefore joins the moral community and has rights.

Autonomy is important, and the respect for autonomy must be extended to conscious fetuses. Individual autonomy is a person's capacity to make decisions for themselves and about live their life according to reasons and motives that are free from external forces (Christman, 2020). Autonomous agency is necessary for equal political standing (Christman, 2020). When an individual lacks autonomy, like a fetus, it allows for paternalism to come into play (Christman, 2020). Paternalistic action is performed with the intent of promoting another's good but occurs against the other's will or without the other's consent (Christman, 2020). This is what allows the government to make rules and regulations regarding abortion.

Additionally, I will argue that there are some instances after consciousness, where abortion is still morally permissible. They are in the event that the mother's life is in danger and when the fetus will not be able to join the moral community. Finally, I will explain how the current laws are problematic and provide how they should be drafted to reflect this point of view.

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