The Ethics of Prenatal Injury

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy
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  • Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, United States

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I argue that it is permissible for pregnant women to expose their unborn children to risks and injury. I begin with the premise that abortion is permissible. If so, then just as a pregnant woman may permissibly prevent an unborn child from experiencing any future wellbeing, she also may permissibly provide her child relatively poorer prospects for wellbeing. Therefore, it is permissible for pregnant women to take risks and cause prenatal injury. This argument has revisionary implications for policies that prevent medical research and drug use during pregnancy. It also explains why moralistic criticism of pregnant women is unwarranted.

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