Creation and Abortion: A Study in Moral and Legal Philosophy

By F. M. Kamm | Go to book overview

4 May We Kill in Abortion Cases?

Assuming that the fetus is a person (infant) and accepting the output cutoff argument with its five conditions for the violinist cases, we shall now consider an analogous argument for the permissibility of abortion. We will consider objections to it in Chapter 5.


A Basic Abortion Argument

1a. Need alone does not confer a right to have aid begin, nor a duty to give it.

The efforts required in even a normal pregnancy, labor, and delivery are strenuous and risky, not merely inconvenient, and so they extend beyond what a woman is obligated to provide merely because it will save a fetus's life. To give meaning to this observation, imagine a case in which a fetus is growing in a lab but will die unless it is transferred to a woman's body. Is she morally obligated to have it transferred, solely because of its need, even if it is a stranger to her?

We must be convinced that Condition 1a is true even if we consider the fetus to be an infant, if there are morally significant reasons why we are more protective of infants than of adults.

1b. Need alone does not confer a right to have continuing support, nor a duty to give it.

If it is morally permissible to let the fetus die, then its need for survival alone cannot morally require continuing support that has already begun as a result of a pregnancy started in a woman's body.

-78-

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Creation and Abortion: A Study in Moral and Legal Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - May We Kill in Nonabortion Cases? 20
  • Notes 39
  • 2 - Applying the Argument to Specific Nonabortion Cases 42
  • Notes 63
  • 3 - Variations and Alternatives 64
  • Notes 76
  • 4 - May We Kill in Abortion Cases? 78
  • Notes 120
  • 5 - Creating Responsibly 124
  • Notes 182
  • 6 - Informed Consent, Responsibilities in Pregnancy, and External Means of Gestation 186
  • Notes 218
  • Index 221
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