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The moral significance of spontaneous abortion.
  1. T F Murphy


    Spontaneous abortion is rarely addressed in moral evaluations of abortion. Indeed, 'abortion' is virtually always taken to mean only induced abortion. After a brief review of medical aspects of spontaneous abortion, I attempt to articulate the moral implications of spontaneous abortion for the two poles of the abortion debate, the strong pro-abortion and the strong anti-abortion positions. I claim that spontaneous abortion has no moral relevance for strict pro-abortion positions but that the high incidence of spontaneous abortion is not (as some claim) eo ipso any sort of justification for voluntarily induced abortion. Secondly, I show that if the strict anti-abortionist position is to be taken seriously in its insistence that prenatal life has a right to be protected by virtue of its being conceived, then it seems necessary to take measures to prevent spontaneous abortion and its presumptive causes, and this as a matter of moral obligation.

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