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The Two tragedies argument
  1. William Simkulet
  1. Department of Philosophy and Religion, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr. William Simkulet, N/A; simkuletwm{at}


Opposition to induced abortion rests on the belief that fetuses have a moral status comparable to beings like us, and that the loss of such a life is tragic. Antiabortion, or pro-life, theorists argue that (1) it is wrong to induce abortion and (2) it is wrong to allow others to perform induced abortion. However, evidence suggests that spontaneous abortion kills far more fetuses than induced abortion, and critics argue that most pro-life theorists neglect the threat of spontaneous abortion and ought to do more to prevent it. Friberg-Fernros contends such an obligation would be implausibly strong, arguing that induced abortions are far worse than spontaneous abortions because while both involve the tragedy of the death of the fetus, induced abortion involves a second tragedy—one person killing another. I argue this two tragedies argument fails to explain what is morally relevant about induced abortion.

  • abortion
  • killing
  • moral status
  • negligence

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  • Contributors I am the sole author of this text.

  • 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.

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

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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