1st Edition

Dialogues on the Ethics of Abortion

By Bertha Alvarez Manninen Copyright 2022
    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    What happens when two intelligent and highly informed fictional college students, one strongly pro-choice and the other vigorously pro-life, are asked to put together a presentation on abortion? Their conversations over five days – friendly but lively, charitable but clear – are captured in this book. 

    Through these dialogues, students and other interested readers are introduced to the difficult moral issues of abortion. In Chapter 1, readers learn about Roe v. Wade and other relevant legal cases. Chapter 2 covers basic, philosophical issues such as: What is a person? Are fetuses persons? Is fetal potential morally relevant? How shall we define the moral community? Chapter 3 introduces students to Don Marquis’s "Why Abortion is Immoral" and also the metaphysical issues of personal identity and its relevance to abortion. Chapter 4 covers Judith Jarvis Thomson’s "A Defense of Abortion", including objections and responses to the argument from bodily autonomy. Finally, Chapter 5 looks at abortion in hard cases, such as in cases of rape, fetal disability, non-viable pregnancies, and sex-selection; the chapter also includes a conversation on fathers and abortion.   

    With a Foreword by Laurie Shrage, topics headings in the margins, and an annotated bibliography, Dialogues on the Ethics of Abortion is an easy-to-use volume and valuable resource for anyone interested in a fair and clear-headed approach to one of the most contentious moral issues of our time.

    Foreword by Laurie Shrage


    Day 1: Roe v. Wade and other legal concerns
    a) Does the Bible prohibit abortions?
    b) The thalidomide scare.
    c) Does Roe v. Wade legalize abortion on demand?
    d) Roe v. Wade does not legalize abortion on demand.
    e) What’s included in the right to privacy?
    f) Planned Parenthood v. Casey asserts viability as the point abortions can be restricted.
    g) Many states do restrict abortion access at some point in pregnancy.
    h) New York’s Reproductive Health Act.
    i) Doe v. Bolton and how to define maternal health
    j) Making abortions illegal won’t stop them.
    k) The effectiveness of laws prohibiting abortion.
    l) Women sentenced to prison over a miscarriage and the case of Savita Halappanavar.
    m) The role of contraception in reducing abortion rates.
    n) The role of sex education in reducing abortion rates.
    o) Do our tax dollars fund abortion?
    p) Personhood Amendments
    q) Embryos and fertility treatments.
    r) Killing abortion doctors.
    s) Does abortion harm women?

    Day 2: Abortion as Murder, Fetal Personhood, and Arguments from Potential
    a) Viability and quickening as times when abortion becomes murder.
    b) Abortion kills an innocent child.
    c) Can "innocence" apply to embryos?
    d) Is killing all human life wrong?
    e) What is a person?
    f) Is genetic humanity sufficient for personhood?
    g) The cognitive traits of personhood.
    h) Persons who are not genetically human.
    i) Genetic humans who are not persons.
    j) Embryos and fetuses lack all the mental traits of personhood.
    k) The relationship between rights and desires.
    l) Do infants have a right to life?
    m) The argument from potential.
    n) What does "potential" mean?
    o) Do potential persons have the same rights as actual persons?
    p) The right to life protects persons from harm.
    q) Sentience as a prerequisite for being able to be harmed.
    r) Harm as the setting back of interests.
    s) Must you be sentient in order to have interests?
    t) When do fetuses become sentient? 

    Day 3: Fetal "Future-Like-Ours" Arguments, and Considerations of Personal Identity
    a) Sanctity of life arguments.
    b) Sanctity of life arguments and euthanasia.
    c) Abortion and religious diversity.
    d) Future-like-ours arguments.
    e) Future-like-ours arguments, contraception, and arguments from potential.
    f) Alternative accounts of the wrongness of killing.
    g) Do fetuses have futures of value?
    h) Is the fetus the same being that will later enjoy a future?
    i) A fertilized egg is not an individual human being.
    j) Personal identity consists in the persistence of a human organism.
    k) Personal identity consists in the continuation of mental contents.
    l) Personal identity consists in the continuation of a conscious mind.
    m) Does death harm a fetus to the same degree as it harms a person?

    Day 4: The Bodily Autonomy Argument
    a) Abortion and the security of persons.
    b) Is the right to life a positive right?
    c) The violinist example.
    d) Is the violinist example too weird?
    e) The violinist example’s relevance to abortion.
    f) Kant’s principle of humanity and its relation to pregnancy and abortion.
    g) The violinist example as analogous to rape.
    h) The responsibility objection.
    i) The tacit consent objection.
    j) The special relationship objection.
    k) The killing vs. letting die distinction.
    l) Restricting abortion after viability.
    m) Can we compel using someone’s body to save another?
    n) The compensation objection.

    Day 5: Abortion in Hard Cases
    a) Pro-choice and feminism.
    b) Early feminism and pro-life advocacy.
    c) Does abortion allow for the sexual exploitation of women?
    d) Abortion and pro-family support policies.
    e) Areas where pro-choice and pro-life feminists agree.
    f) Abortion due to sex selection.
    g) Virtue theory and abortion.
    h) Later abortions.
    i) Abortion for non-viable pregnancies.
    j) Abortion due to fetal disabilities.
    k) Is there a duty to have the "best" child?
    l) Subjective stories of families with disabled children.
    m) The expressivist argument against selective abortion.
    n) The parental argument against selective abortion.
    o) Fathers and abortion.
    p) The right of refusal.
    q) Men and grief over abortion.
    r) Can a man force a woman to gestate?
    s) Abortion in cases of rape.
    t) Final thoughts.

    Annotated Bibliography



    Bertha Alvarez Manninen is Professor of Philosophy at Arizona State University, West Campus. She is the author of the book, Pro-Life, Pro-Choice: Shared Values in the Abortion Debate (2014) and the co-editor of the book Being Ethical: Classic and New Voices on Contemporary Issues (2017). She is also the co-author of A Civil Dialogue on Abortion (2018), published by Routledge.