Jeff McMahan - Paradoksy aborcji i uszkodzeń prenatalnych Wyróżnione

Many people who believe that abortion may often be justified by appeal
to the pregnant woman’s interests also believe that a woman’s infliction
of significant but nonlethal injury on her fetus can seldom be justified
by appeal to her interests. Yet the second of these beliefs can seem to
cast doubt on the first. For the view that the infliction of prenatal injury
is seriously morally objectionable may seem to presuppose a view about
the status of the fetus that challenges the permissibility of abortion. The
fear of being interpreted as implicitly endorsing such a view has thus
led some defenders of abortion to be reluctant for tactical reasons to
condemn the infliction of prenatal injury. In this they are encouraged
by those who exploit the issue of prenatal injury in their campaign
against abortion. When, for example, the House and Senate in 2004
passed legislation recognizing two victims of an assault against a pregnant
woman, many viewed this as a tactic in a larger strategy to restrict
access to abortion. This tactic is potentially effective. For people may
find it compelling to infer that, if injuring a fetus is seriously objectionable,
abortion must be even more objectionable, since killing is
normally more seriously objectionable than merely injuring.
That it is common for people to believe—at least initially—that
prenatal injury is worse than abortion may be obscured by the way
prenatal injury has been treated in the law. Legislation that would hold
pregnant women criminally liable for culpably inflicted prenatal injury
* For extensive comments on earlier drafts of this article I am deeply grateful to John
Deigh, Derek Parfit, Alexander Pruss, Peter Vallentyne, DavidWasserman, and RivkaWeinberg.
For unusually helpful discussion I thank Joseph Boyle, Earl Conee, Ranpal Dosanjh,
Thomas Hurka, Jeffrey King, Agnieszka Jaworska, Saul Smilansky, Julie Tannenbaum, and
Alec Walen.
626 Ethics July 2006
would be difficult to enforce. It would require either excessive intrusion
into women’s lives during pregnancy or the resort to postnatal detection,
which could be counterproductive, at least from the point of view of
opponents of abortion, since it would give women who might have
injured their fetus an incentive to have an abortion rather than risk
prosecution if their baby were born with a defect attributable to injury.
For these reasons, prenatal injury inflicted by pregnant women is likely
to continue to evade criminalization, and people may infer that if prenatal
injury is not illegal it cannot be seriously immoral. But the legal
permissibility of abortion is continually under attack, and thus one worry
is that, because abortion is more susceptible to legal regulation, a campaign
to prevent prenatal injury might be less likely to result in legislati
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