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Overlap of premature birth and permissible abortion
  1. O Collyns1,
  2. G Gillett1,
  3. B Darlow2
  1. 1
    Bioethics Centre, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
  2. 2
    Department of Paediatrics, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand
  1. Dr G Gillett, Bioethics Centre, University of Otago, P O Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand; grant.gillett{at}


Abortion is permitted in many jurisdictions after the age at which an infant is viable on the basis of intensive neonatal care techniques. Does this cause special concerns for those involved in perinatal care and termination of pregnancy services or is the overlap mainly an abstract issue fretted over by ethicists and academics? In order to explore this question, a group of clinicians involved in this area of care were interviewed and their interviews analysed using qualitative measures. The clinicians concerned were exercised by the ethical issues and had various ways of resolving them which tended to reflect a gradualist, multifaceted and, to some extent, particularist approach to ethical decision-making in relation to the edges of human life. The ways in which those strands of ethical thought are instanced in the interview material are reported and discussed.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Provenance and Peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.