Monash Bioethics Review

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 26–42 | Cite as

Eugenic abortion, moral uncertainty, and social consequences

  • Michael J. Selgelid


The proliferation of prenatal genetic testing likely to follow from advances in genetic science invites reconsideration of the moral status of abortion. In this article I examine arguments surrounding the moral status of the fetus. I conclude that secular philosophy should ultimately admit that the moral status of the fetus is uncertain, and that this uncertainty itself makes abortion morally problematic. While this does not imply that abortion is always morally wrong or that it should be legally prohibited, it does recommend a (moral) presumption in favor of preserving fetal life except in special circumstances. A relevant worry is that the rise of eugenic abortion gives new force to slippery slope arguments that we will be led down a path to a situation where more fetuses are terminated for relatively trivial reasons and that this will promote other bad social consequences. This might justify legislative discouragement of certain genetic interventions.


Moral Status Congenital Hypothyroidism Slippery Slope Monash Bioethic Review Extreme Version 
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Copyright information

© Monash University 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Selgelid
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CaliforniaSan Diego
  2. 2.European Academy (Europaische Akademie)Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler GmbHGermany

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