Maternal Autonomy and Prenatal Harm

Bioethics (forthcoming)
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Abstract
Inflicting harm is generally preferable to inflicting death. If you must choose between the two, you should choose to harm. But prenatal harm seems different. If a mother must choose between harming her fetus or aborting it, she may choose either, at least in many cases. So it seems that prenatal harm is particularly objectionable, sometimes on a par with death. This paper offers an explanation of why prenatal harm seems particularly objectionable by drawing an analogy to the all-or-nothing problem. It then argues that this analogy offers independent support for the ‘voluntarist’ view that at least some parental role obligations are grounded in the choice to be a parent.
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Archival date: 2021-11-15
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2021-11-15

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