Don't Risk Homicide: Abortion After 10 Weeks Gestation

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (forthcoming)
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When an abortion is performed, someone dies. Are we killing an innocent human person? Widespread disagreement exists. However, it’s not necessary to establish personhood in order to establish the wrongness of abortion: a substantial chance of personhood is enough. We defend The Don’t Risk Homicide Argument: abortions are wrong after 10 weeks gestation because they substantially and unjustifiably risk homicide, the unjust killing of an innocent person. Why 10 weeks? Because the cumulative evidence establishes a substantial chance (a more than 1 in 5 chance) that preborn humans are persons around this stage of development. We submit evidence from our bad track record, widespread disagreement about personhood (after 10 weeks gestation), problems with theories of personhood, the similarity between preborn humans and newborn babies, gestational age miscalculations, and the common intuitive responses of women to their pregnancies and miscarriages. Our argument is cogent because it bypasses the stalemate over preborn personhood and rests on common ground rather than contentious metaphysics. It also strongly suggests that society must do more to protect preborn humans. We discuss its practical implications for fetal pain relief, social policy, and abortion law.

Author's Profile

Matthew Braddock
University of Tennessee, Martin


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