1st Edition

Agency, Pregnancy and Persons Essays in Defense of Human Life

    316 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides extensive and critical engagement with some of the most recent and compelling arguments favoring abortion choice. It features original essays from leading and emerging philosophers, bioethicists and medical professionals that present philosophically sophisticated and novel arguments against abortion choice.

    The chapters in this book are divided into three thematic sections. The first set of essays focuses primarily on unborn human individuals—zygotes, embryos and fetuses. In these chapters, it is argued, for example, that human organisms begin to exist at conception and that zygotes, embryos and fetuses are persons. These chapters also explore questions about whether or not zygotes, embryos and fetuses are part of their mothers’ bodies. The second set of essays focuses primarily on elective abortion and the debates surrounding it. These chapters consider whether or not opponents of abortion are commonly hypocritical, how opponents of abortion should think about adoption, how emerging technologies may affect the current debate and whether or not those participating in the debate should rely on analogies to support their case. Finally, the third set of essays shifts focus from the legal and moral status of elective abortion to its place in medical practice. In these chapters, it is argued that elective abortion embodies a kind of ableism, that elective abortion is medically unnecessary, harmful to women’s mental health and that telemedicine abortion poses significant risks to women’s health.

    Agency, Pregnancy and Persons offers an up-to-date examination of unborn human beings, the debates surrounding elective abortion and the place of elective abortion within medical practice. It will be of interest to medical professionals and those who work in philosophy, bioethics and medical ethics alike.


    Robert P. George


    Nicholas Colgrove

    Part I. Zygotes, Embryos and Fetuses

    1. Is the Human Embryo an Organism?

    Maureen L. Condic

    2. A Plausible Account of Basic Equality

    Henrik Friberg-Fernros

    3. Embryonic Persons

    Richard Playford

    4. Whose Body?

    Christopher Tollefsen

    5. It is More Difficult to Justify Abortion if Fetuses are Parts of their Mothers

    David Hershenov

    6. Do Fetuses Have the Same Interests as Their Mothers?

    Helen Watt

    Part II: The Abortion Debate

    7. Hypocrisy, Consistency and Opponents of Abortion

    Bruce P. Blackshaw, Nicholas Colgrove and Daniel Rodger 

    8. Adoption, Abortion and the Demands of Integrity

    Kate Finley

    9. The Impairment Argument Against Abortion

    Perry Hendricks

    10. The Artificial Womb and the End of Abortion

    Christopher Kaczor

    11. The Feminists’ Dilemmas: A Response to Overall’s "Rethinking Abortion, Ectogenesis, and Fetal Death" 

    Jessalyn A. Bohn

    12. Violinists, Burglars, People-Seeds, Samaritans and Reluctant Bone Marrow Donors: Why Do We Need Analogies to Pregnancy in Order to Understand It?

    Francis J. Beckwith

    Part III: Abortion and Medical Practice

    13. False Compassion, True Discrimination: The Practice of Prenatal Diagnosis and Selective Abortion

    Christopher Ostertag

    14. Is Abortion Medically Necessary?

    Toni C. Saad

    15. Abortion’s Causal Role in Trauma and Suicide

    Calum Miller

    16. Telemedicine Abortion: Why It Is Not Safe for Women

    Calum Miller


    Nicholas Colgrove is a postdoctoral fellow in bioethics and philosophy at Wake Forest University, United States. He has published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, the Journal of Medicine & Philosophy and HEC Forum.

    Bruce P. Blackshaw is a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. His research interests in bioethics include reproductive ethics, personal identity and conscientious objection in medicine. He has published extensively in journals such as Bioethics, the Journal of Medical Ethics and Ethical Theory and Moral Practice.

    Daniel Rodger is a Senior Lecturer in Perioperative Practice at London South Bank University, United Kingdom. He is a registered Operating Department Practitioner and co-editor of the Fundamentals of Operating Department Practice, 2nd Edition (2022), published by Cambridge University Press.