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Abortion and the veil of ignorance: a response to Minehan
  1. Joona Räsänen
  1. Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Mr Joona Räsänen, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo, Oslo 0315, Norway; joona.rasanen{at}


In a recent JME paper, Matthew John Minehan applies John Rawls’ veil of ignorance against Judith Thomson’s famous violinist argument for the permissibility of abortion. Minehan asks readers to ‘imagine that one morning you are back to back in bed with another person. One of you is conscious and the other unconscious. You do not know which one you are’. Since from this position of ignorance, you have an equal chance of being the unconscious violinist and the conscious person attached to him, it would be rational to oppose a right for detachment. Likewise, behind the veil of ignorance, it is rational to oppose abortions since you could be the fetus, Minehan claims. This paper provides a plausible reply to this argument.

  • ethics
  • abortion - induced
  • reproductive medicine

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  • Contributors JR is the sole author of this work.

  • Funding UiO Life Science Convergence Project: Epigenetics and bioethics of human embryonic development.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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