Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Alex Rajczi

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© 2014 Victoria Nichols


Morality of abortion is a topic that tends to prompt heated politic debates. Setting politics aside, it is useful for one to contemplate certain questions if they wish to understand the complex moral dilemmas which abortion poses. One can philosophize and grapple with some of the following questions: Does the human embryo have moral status? Is the human embryo a person? Is it owed the same rights to life protection that a human baby or human adult have? Do we have a strong reason not to harm it? These questions often do not have definitive yes or no answers which apply universally to all cases yet; exploring them will allow one to gain a better understanding of one’s position on the issue of morality of abortion. If one’s intuition tells them that it is morally wrong or morally permissible to kill an early human embryo therefore, ending its potential to experience a future life similar to ours, grappling with these philosophical questions pertaining to the ethics of killing will provide insight that will either validate or contradict these intuitions.

This thesis examines morality of abortion by analyzing theories proposed by Don Marquis and Elizabeth Harman in effort to get a sense of what characteristics are necessary for an entity to experience significant levels of harm, be granted moral status and have a strong reason not to be killed. These characteristics help one determine whether or not it is morally permissible to end the life of a developing human organism such as a human embryo.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.