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Arguments about AbortionPersonhood, Morality, and Law$
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Kate Greasley

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198766780

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198766780.001.0001

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Abortion as Justified Homicide

Abortion as Justified Homicide

(p.59) 3 Abortion as Justified Homicide
Arguments about Abortion

Kate Greasley

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the claim that if the fetus is a person and abortion is killing, then most abortions are instances of justified homicide. It argues that with very limited exceptions, the attempt to subsume abortion under one or more categories of justified homicide cannot be reconciled with the moral and legal constraints on killing that are otherwise generally accepted. If normal abortion is an instance of justified homicide, then it is an entirely anomalous one that explodes the conventional boundaries of permissible killing. Consequently, accounts of the abortion problem that treat it as an example of justified homicide fail to dislodge the centrality of prenatal personhood to the moral and legal status of abortion.

Keywords:   abortion, justified homicide, permissible killing, human fetus, prenatal personhood

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