The problem of abortion: essentially contested concepts and moral autonomy

Gibson, Susanne (2004) The problem of abortion: essentially contested concepts and moral autonomy. Bioethics, 18 (3). pp. 221-233. Full text not available from this repository.

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When one thinks about the ethics of abortion, one inevitably thinks about rights, since it is in terms of the concept of rights that much of the debate has been conducted. This is true of overtly feminist as well as nonfeminist accounts. Indeed, some early feminist writers – Judith Jarvis Thomson and Mary Ann Warren, for example – employ a model of rights that is indistinguishable, or virtually indistinguishable, from that of their non-feminist counterparts. However, more recent feminist writers have developed a different understanding of ‘a woman’s right to choose.’ In this paper, I will begin by outlining the non-feminist debate over the moral permissibility of abortion. I will suggest that this debate is irresolvable, since at its heart is an ‘essentially contested concept’, that of personhood. I will then consider the way in which some feminist writers have attempted to reconceive the terms of the abortion debate and suggest an expanded account of women’s right to abortion, drawing on the work of Susan Sherwin. Finally, I will argue that there is a further element to a ‘woman’s right to choose’ that expands on and provides a conceptual link between the feminist and non-feminist understanding of abortion.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Bioethics
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0269-9702
Departments: Academic Departments > Health, Psychology & Social Studies (HPSS) > Applied Psychology and Social Studies
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2010 09:36
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 18:45
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