Opponents of abortion sometimes hold that it is impermissible because fetuses are persons from the moment of conception. But miscarriage, which ends up to 89 % of pregnancies, is much deadlier than abortion. That means that if opponents of abortion are right, then miscarriage is the biggest public-health crisis of our time. Yet they pay hardly any attention to miscarriage, especially very early miscarriage. Attempts to resolve this inconsistency by adverting to the distinction between killing and letting die or to the difficulty of preventing miscarriage fail, leaving a dilemma. Opponents of abortion should either advocate a substantial shift in our political and medical priorities or else give up the view that fetuses are persons from the moment of conception.
KeywordsAbortion Miscarriage Bioethics Killing and letting die Fetal personhood
Thanks to Craig Agule, Richard Arneson, Matt Braich, David Brink, Theron Pummer, and an anonymous reviewer at Philosophical Studies for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.
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