Is Abortion a Question of Personal Morality?

Authors
Julie Kirsch
D'Youville College
Abstract
Is abortion a question of personal morality? Liberals and feminists often embrace this idea, but so also do those who are personally opposed to abortion. Someone may claim to believe personally that abortion is wrong without holding the corresponding public belief. I am interested in what exactly one means when one says that abortion is a question of personal morality. In Sec. II, I consider three influential interpretations of the claim that abortion is a question of personal morality. After showing that each of these interpretations is inadequate, I develop a fourth that avoids some of the problems with the first three (in Sec. III). But even on this interpretation, the claim that abortion is a question of personal morality is difficult to defend. This is because we cannot show that abortion is a question of personal morality without first knowing something about the moral status of the fetus. I conclude the paper with some pessimistic remarks concerning our ability to arrive at a compromise position on abortion
Keywords Applied Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0739-098X
DOI 10.5840/ijap20132715
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