Law and Philosophy

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 125-159

First online:

Sex-Selective Abortion: A Matter of Choice

  • Jeremy WilliamsAffiliated withCentre of Medical Law and Ethics, School of Law, King’s College London Email author 

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This paper argues that, if we are committed to a Pro-choice stance with regard to selective abortion for disability, we will be unable to justify the prohibition of sex-selective abortion (SSA), for two reasons. First, familiar Pro-choice arguments in favour of a woman’s right to select against fetal impairment also support, by parity of reasoning, a right to choose SSA. Second, rejection of the criticisms of selective abortion for disability levelled by disability theorists also disposes, by implication, of the key objections to SSA, as developed, most notably, by feminists. The paper, then, consists of a conditional defence of SSA, under which SSA should be available, and protected by a right, if selective abortion for disability is. Opponents of SSA might respond by conceding additional restrictions on selection against disabled fetuses. It should become clear throughout the paper, however, that any such new restrictions would be unacceptably onerous for women.