Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Four problems for the pregnancy rescue case
  1. Alex Gillham
  1. Department of Philosophy, Saint Bonaventure University, Saint Bonaventure, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alex Gillham, Department of Philosophy, Saint Bonaventure University, Saint Bonaventure, New York, USA; argillham{at}


The pregnancy rescue case (PRC) is supposed to show that when forced between preventing a fetus from being killed and preventing someone from remaining unwillingly pregnant, we are morally required to do the former. If this is true, then Hendricks argues that the typical abortion is morally wrong. I pose four problems for PRC and how Hendricks uses it here. First, one might simply deny the intuition Hendricks takes PRC to pump for reasons having to do with the moral status of the fetus. Second, even if it is true that we should prevent the fetus from being killed in PRC, this might not tell us much about the moral permissibility of abortion in typical cases because there are important differences between PRC and the typical abortion. Third, I propose some modifications to PRC that would better isolate whether fetal personhood does any work to pump the target intuition. Fourth, I argue that PRC only succeeds if we presuppose that Thomson’s defence is unsound, but presupposing this comes at too high a cost.

  • Abortion - Induced
  • Ethics- Medical
  • Reproductive Medicine

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • 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.

Linked Articles

Other content recommended for you