Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Abortion and future technology

 An interesting sidebar to the abortion issue would be this. People who are pro-choice often say that  the intent of getting an abortion is not the death of the fetus, it is instead the termination of the pregnancy. At the present time we don't have the means to keep fetuses alive, so fetal death is normal inevitable result of abortion, but strictly speaking, it's collateral damage from the pregnancy termination. We can imagine technology developing to where anyone who wanted to terminate their pregnancy could have the fetus removed and then put into an artificial incubator where they will be kept until birth, after which they will by put up for adoption. If such technology develops, would pro-lifers still hold that it is wrong to get abortions? Would pro-choicers still insist that a woman has the right to secure the death of the fetus (Judith Jarvis Thomson says otherwise)?


Kevin said...

strictly speaking, it's collateral damage from the pregnancy termination.

Strictly speaking, the death of the unborn is not collateral damage. It is the goal.

Victor Reppert said...

So, would women who want to terminate their pregnancy, if offered the chance to turn the fetus over to this technology, would say "No! Kill it! I want that fetus to die!"

From Judith Jarvis Thomson:

Second, while I am arguing for the permissibility of abortion in some cases, I am not arguing for the right to secure the death of the unborn child. It is easy to confuse these two things in that up to a certain point in the life of the fetus it is not able to survive outside the mother's body; hence removing it from her body guarantees its death. But they are importantly different. I have argued that you are not morally required to spend nine months in bed, sustaining the life of that violinist, but to say this is by no means to say that if, when you unplug yourself, there is a miracle and he survives, you then have a right to turn round and slit his throat. You may detach yourself even if this costs him his life; you have no right to be guaranteed his death, by some other means, if unplugging yourself does not kill him. There are some people who will feel dissatisfied by this feature of my argument. A woman may be utterly devastated by the thought of a child, a bit of herself, put out for adoption and never seen or heard of again. She may therefore want not merely that the child be detached from her, but more, that it die. Some opponents of abortion are inclined to regard this as beneath contempt--thereby showing insensitivity to what is surely a powerful source of despair. All the same, I agree that the desire for the child's death is not one which anybody may gratify, should it turn out to be possible to detach the child alive.

bmiller said...

I suspect that the women who are not pressured to abort against their will just want the child to not exist so they can believe that the child never did exist. Having a person out there that may look you up one day would shatter that illusion.

One Brow said...


Strictly speaking, the death of the unborn is not collateral damage. It is the goal.

That likely varies from woman to woman. There are many pro-life women who none-the-less get abortions, and many of them might opt for an incubator and adoption.