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T Martin. Avebury, 2000, £40.00, pp 113. ISBN 0-7546-1146-9
This is an interesting attempt to tackle that most emotional of all subjects—the abortion debate. Taking as her basis Tooley's well known discussion on abortion, Martin sets out to provide an account of the intrinsic morality of abortion which, she says, takes a moderate approach to the subject. Unlike many writers on this subject, there is nothing obviously partisan about Martin's approach. The book is written in a somewhat dense manner, but this may simply reflect the complexity of the issue itself.
Unusually, Martin seeks to use evidence about fetal pain as one plank of her argument that even in early pregnancy terminations, account should be taken of evidence which suggests that fetuses can experience pain. Moreover, as part of the continuum of development, she argues that there are circumstances in which it is not intrinsically wrong to terminate a pregnancy. She concludes that after 24 weeks the fetus is possessed of certain characteristics which render it equivalent to the person to be born, thus justifying restrictions on abortion, save in rare and extreme cases.
This is a thoughtful and interesting contribution to the debate.
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