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The Two tragedies argument

Abstract

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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