Bioethics 35 (5):465-472 (2021)

Authors
Daniel Rodger
London South Bank University
Bruce P. Blackshaw
University of Birmingham
Abstract
Pro-life advocates commonly argue that fetuses have the moral status of persons, and an accompanying right to life, a view most pro-choice advocates deny. A difficulty for this pro-life position has been Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist analogy, in which she argues that even if the fetus is a person, abortion is often permissible because a pregnant woman is not obliged to continue to offer her body as life support. Here, we outline the moral theories underlying public health ethics, and examine the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of public health considerations overriding individual rights. We argue that if fetuses are regarded as persons, then abortion is of such prevalence in society that it also constitutes a significant public health crisis. We show that on public health considerations, we are justified in overriding individual rights to bodily autonomy by prohibiting abortion. We conclude that in a society that values public health, abortion can only be tolerated if fetuses are not regarded as persons.
Keywords Abortion  Pandemic  Public Health  Mortality  Persons  Death  Harm  Kant
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Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1111/bioe.12874
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References found in this work BETA

Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785/2002 - Oxford University Press.
A Defense of Abortion.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1971 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1):47-66.

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