The Natural Law theory takes a deontological approach to ethical issues like Abortion which is based on Thomas Aquinas’ view of Natural Law. Aquinas says that God creates human beings to fulfil their purpose to serve Him and our neighbour to bring us heaven and eternal life. In this aspect Natural Law followers would therefore say that a baby must be able to fulfil its life the way God planned it and this cannot be taken away from the child due to lifestyle reasons.
Roman Catholicism is one of the main groups of followers of Natural Law and they believe that life is the most valuable gift from God to give us as humans and therefore we cannot destroy a life that is precious to God. It is not our decision to kill a life as Natural Law says that we are effectively playing God. Natural Law splits into Primary and Secondary precepts according to Aquinas. The Primary precepts are: Preservation of Life, Reproduction, Nurture and Education of the Young, Living peacefully in society and Worshipping God, Aquinas says that these precepts are a direct reflection of God’s Eternal Law.
These primary precepts outline the purpose of humans in the world. As Reproduction is a primary precept it is immediately obvious that destroying reproduction is wrong and is going against humanity’s purpose. You can also look at Natural Law in terms of Secondary Precepts. These precepts are dependent on what one actually need to do in a given situation and are open to faulty reasoning. These precepts should guide humanity towards flourishing. According to Natural there is a life from the moment of conception, therefore Natural would not look at the status of the embryo as every embryo is important as another for every one is a gift from God.
This also does not take into account when does personhood occur and they would not look at potentiality. Therefore there is a person also from the moment of conception and if it is wrong to kill a person then surely we cannot kill a person in the womb either. However, the Natural theory does look at the principle of double effect for example in the case of a cancerous uterus. If you were to do nothing then both mother and baby will die whereas if you were to remove the uterus then you will save the mother’s life.
The first effect in this case is the saving of the mother’s life whilst the second effect is that the baby dies. Natural Law followers would say that the Primary Intention is to save the mother’s life but unfortunately killing the baby in the process. They are not intentionally killing the baby (like a laser would) but removing the baby from its “life support”. Natural Law followers would completely disagree with Judith Jarvis Thompson’s analogy of the violinist. Judith says that to keep the violinist plugged in would be a nice thing to do but not necessary as it is up to the individual.
This is not the view that Natural Law would use as it completely disregards God’s involvement in human life. In conclusion, Natural Law’s view on abortion is relatively logical and it’s only exception is the principle of double effect in which it takes into account special serious cases. ‘Natural Law has no serious weaknesses’ Discuss Natural Law has both strengths and weaknesses. It appears to be very logical and clear-cut as it establishes moral rules that all can follow for example when it approaches abortion the general rule is you cannot murder a gift from God and therefore you cannot abort.
This makes it easily comprehensible and easier to follow at the same time. It also does not out a hierarchy into humanity as it says that everyone is just as important as another showing that it does not just serve the majority but concerns itself with all people. The theory has universalisability as it is all based on human reason and this makes it more accessible for more people. However, as it follows human reason and it is completely logical it does not take into account complex situations like rape in the case of abortion and the psychological effect it can leave on the mother.
In this way it appears that human opinion is completely disregarded. It is also hard to decide the primary precept in the case of something like sex as it is trying to prioritise one principle of sex, the unity or procreation when God says they are equal on the scale. Natural Law is easy to follow mostly but there also appear to be some problems within it as there can never be an answer for everything. There are always going to be those complex cases where a theory cannot be followed without bending some of its rules like the Roe vs.
Wade case where they believed that the procreative aspect of sex is beginning to eclipse the unitive aspect and therefore is contradicting the Bible. In conclusion, it is clear that there are some weaknesses to the Natural Law theory but this happens in most ethical theories. Some people might take a more liberated approach and apply some of the theory but input their own opinions into the dilemma. However, Natural Law is a lot stricter and in general is a lot more comprehensible than other ethical theories.