||This text takes some of the most significant aspects of both the liberal and conservative perspectives on abortion and combines them to form an empirically grounded, non-arbitary, and practicable abortion ethic. It investigates which of the factors necessary for the development of personhood are morally relevant, and when these factors can objectively be said to be present in the foetus. From an examination of current empirical knowledge concerning the human foetus it is argued that all of these factors are present by 24 weeks of development. The empirical knowledge presented is then combined with a discussion of the philosophical issues surrounding personal identity in order to develop a cogent and empirically sound overall picture of the human foetus. On the basis of the information presented it is argued that abortion, as it is now practiced, is in many cases a direct infringement of foetal interests, and that current abortion practices ought to be replaced with procedures that take a foetus's manifest and potential properties into consideration alongside the mother's interests.
Introduction; Potential and physical dependence; Foetal physiology and active potential; Active potential and foetal psychology; Personal identity and the human foetus; Potential persons and interests; Moral asymmetry; The practical consequences; Conclusions.
'...This is an important book that should be read widely. I have great pleasure in recommending it not only to philosophers and bioethicists, but also to health care professionals and public policy makers' Helga Kuhse, Monash University
'...a fertile mix of philosophical arguments and an impressive array of empirical evidence...written in a clear and understandable manner, this could be useful for all those interested in the abortion debate.' Human Reproduction and Genetic Ethics.
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