The moral case for abortion

Saturday 22 October, 10.00 - 11.30 , Pit Theatre Moral Dilemmas
Watch the video of this session at the bottom of this page.

In her new book, Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) and a veteran campaigner for reproductive rights, sets out the ethical arguments for a woman’s right to choose, drawing on the traditions of sociological thinking and moral philosophy. Furedi maintains that there is a strong moral case for recognising autonomy and conscience in personal decision-making about reproductive intentions. More than this, she argues that to prevent a woman from making her own choice to continue or end her pregnancy is to undermine the essence of her humanity. True respect for human life and true regard for individual conscience, she suggests, demand that we respect a woman’s right to decide. Furedi believes that support for a woman’s right to a termination has moral foundations and ethical integrity.

The discussion will explore the moral and philosophical foundations on which Furedi builds her case and also their relevance to practical pro-choice work, such as the current campaign to decriminalise abortion altogether. It will consider criticisms of how many abortion advocates have dismissed their ‘pro-life’ opponents and built a case for abortion services built on pragmatism and claims for the public-health benefits of abortion.‎ It will also challenge claims that choice is an ‘elitist’ concept that is antithetical to the narratives of reproductive justice and ‘intersectionality’.

Is it moral for women to choose abortion? Is there a point when society should accept that a fetus is an independent human being? If so, where should that line be drawn? Should campaigners for abortion focus on issues of health and mental well-being or argue for an absolute right to abortion? Given that access to terminations is currently allowed via an exemption to a Victorian criminal law, is it time to decriminalise abortion?