Creation and Abortion: A Study in Moral and Legal Philosophy

By F. M. Kamm | Go to book overview
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off abortion argument, the wording of Condition 5 should stay as it is. We should consider whether the overall cost of each procedure (including its postnatal effects) is more than one would have to pay in order to avoid having the fetus killed. (But the effect of the new person is counted only when the cost of the procedure itself and/or its other effects is large.) We should not make this judgment only about the difference between it and another procedure. In some cases, even the differential cost will seem too large. If this is true, then we must ask whether, for example, a caesarian section (which is a considerable imposition) plus the effect of live birth are costs that a woman would have to pay rather than to use a procedure that is almost costless to her but kills the fetus. The fact that part of the burden here is considered to be in the simple existence, undetached, of another person makes this a morally problematic calculation. However, if the differential cost of the life preserving procedure over the cost of abortion is in itself great enough so as not to be required, then a woman might refuse to make this large effort to bring about a state she does not want to exist. When the differential cost of the procedure itself and/or its other effects is small the existence of the new person is not added.

Finally notice that the issue in this discussion is somewhat different from those that arise in court cases in which the question is whether women are required to undergo surgery to save a fetus from a natural death (rather than to avoid an abortion-induced death). In the court cases we consider what costs it is permissible to impose in order to save a life rather than to avoid killing it. Even if certain efforts were morally required rather than have the abortion, they might not be required to save the fetus from a naturally arising problem. (Similarly, the Roe v. Wade Court held that normal costs of pregnancy were not necessarily reason enough to justify an abortion after viability, but this still does not mean that such costs could be morally or legally required to save a post-viable fetus still in the womb from dying of a disease.)


Notes
1.
A suggestion by Judith Thomson.
2.
We are here assuming that abortion is permissible only to see if a life which ends with no injustice would still be worse than never living. Some may think that the reason for concern with abortion is the possible pain to the fetus. A

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