Ethics are the moral principles that govern an individual's behavior and reasoning. In order to analyze different ethical viewpoints it is important to understand what an ethical issue is. An ethical issue is a situation that has more than one course of action that leads to different outcomes (Dictionary.com, 2015). Ethics can be applied to many controversial issues in modern society, such as abortion. Abortion is a very controversial issue as there are many varied opinions on the topic. An abortion is a deliberate termination of a pregnancy therefore not resulting in the birth of the child. There are two types of abortions; a surgical abortion which is often necessary at later stages of the pregnancy, and a medical abortion which involves a termination through medicinal means such as the abortion pill (BPAS, 2010). .
Varying viewpoints on this issue generally stem from or are influenced by a person's morals, principles or faith. Two key philosophers, Aristotle and Immanuel Kant are famous for having two very distinct ethical viewpoints. When analyzing these views as well as the teachings of the Catholic Church, various stances of abortion ethics can be identified. The ethics of Kant and Aristotle will be analyzed as to whether abortion is ethical, and if so under what circumstances.
Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 in modern day Berlin and died in 1804. Kant wrote several books including 'The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals' which was published in 1785 (Elliott & Engebretson 2001, p.83). This book was dubbed one of the foundational works on ethics. The book establishes moral principles of action that provides the basis for decision-making (Elliott & Engebretson 2001, p.83). Kant advocated a society free from the governance of emotion as he believed it obscured a person's judgement. It is for this reason that Kant rejected consequentialist or utilitarian notions, such as the greater good (Johnson, 2004).