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Within the limits of the defensible: a response to Simkulet’s argument against the pro-life view on the basis of spontaneous abortion
  1. Henrik Friberg-Fernros
  1. Department of Political Science, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Henrik Friberg-Fernros, Department of Political Science, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg SE 405 30, Sweden; henrik.friberg-fernros{at}


In a recent article, William Simkulet has argued against the anti-abortion view by invoking the fact that many human fetuses die from spontaneous abortion. He argues that this fact poses a dilemma for proponents of the anti-abortion view: either they must abandon their anti-abortion view or they must engage in preventing spontaneous abortion significantly more than at present—either to the extent that they try to prevent induced abortion or at least significantly more than they do today. In this reply, I acknowledge that, if the latter would follow, the anti-abortionist view would imply implausibly strong obligations. My aim with this reply is to demonstrate that anti-abortionists can hold on to their view without having implausibly strong obligations to prevent spontaneous abortion. My conclusion is that Simkulet clearly overstates his position by not sufficiently considering the differences between the act of killing versus death by natural causes and between positive and negative rights.

  • abortion
  • moral status
  • reproductive medicine

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

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

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