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Attempts to terminate pregnancies are probably as old as attempts to originate them; carrying them to term is not necessarily always less traumatic than abortion. For various reasons, abortion continues to be the subject of mucthethical, philosophical and religious debate. This chapter will discuss the moral issues surrounding the deliberate and premature ending of a pregnancy in a way that entails the death of the embryo or fetus, and touch upon policy considerations. No attempt will be made to address religious objections to abortion. The reason for this, perhaps surprising, exclusion is that all religious views are particular to followers of that faith, and are unlikely to be appealing or persuasive to followers of other religions or of none. In a democracy, we must base principles and policies on moral considerations that are in principle open, and potentially persuasive to all. Religious positions, depending as they do not on quality and force of evidence or argument, but on authority exclusive to the adherents of that religion, are decidedly not of this kind. Of course religious texts do contain arguments and compelling analogies and thought experiments, and can be read as philosophical texts. The problem is, as far as evidence goes, they are usually pre-scientific and woefully out of date.

Original publication





Book title

Abortion Care

Publication Date



16 - 23