From the perspective of investigators conducting research involving pregnant women and fetuses, a woman's decision about whether to have an abortion can sometimes be relevant to the suitability of the woman and fetus as research subjects. However, prominent ethicists disagree over whether it is permissible for a woman's decision about abortion to be an inclusion or exclusion criterion for participation in research. A widely held view is that fetuses to be aborted and fetuses to be carried to term should be treated equally as research subjects. Some hold that this principle implies that a woman's decision about whether to have an abortion should not be an inclusion or exclusion criterion. This paper identifies types of research in which investigators might want to have inclusion or exclusion criteria based on decisions about abortion. It examines the arguments for and against having the woman's decision about abortion included in such criteria. It is argued that there are types of research in which such criteria are ethically permissible.
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Funding Research for this paper was supported by grant number R03HG005225 from the National Human Genome Research Institute. The content of this paper is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Human Genome Research Institute or the National Institutes of Health. National Human Genome Research Institute, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA Other Funders: NIH.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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