Creation and Abortion: A Study in Moral and Legal Philosophy

By F. M. Kamm | Go to book overview

6 Informed Consent, Responsibilities in Pregnancy, and External Means of Gestation

I have been considering arguments for the permissibility of abortion even if the fetus is a person. Now, I wish to explore the implications of the benefit-burden approach for a number of abortion-related topics: the requirement that women seeking abortions be fully informed of the fetus's status, responsibilities in pregnancy of those who do not abort, and the use of external gestation devices. For purposes of these discussions, let us put to one side the difference that numbers of abortions might make. If the benefit-burden approach were correct, what implications would it have for these issues?


Informed Consent

It has been proposed that even if abortion is not legally prohibited, women should not be allowed to have abortions until they have been fully informed about what they are doing. In particular, they should be informed about the nature, the fate, and the status of the fetus. Apparently, it is assumed by the advocates of such legislation that this information might dissuade women from having abortions, for example, by convincing them that the fetus is a person. What are the implications of the benefit-burden approach for this issue?

The right to give informed consent is really the right to have full information about the procedure to be undergone, and the right to refuse or consent to the procedure on the basis of that information. This is a

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