Cursed lamp: the problem of spontaneous abortion

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Abstract

Many people believe human fetuses have the same moral status as adult human persons, that it is wrong to allow harm to befall things with this moral status, and thus voluntary, induced abortion is seriously morally wrong. Recently, many prochoice theorists have argued that this antiabortion stance is inconsistent; approximately 60% of human fetuses die from spontaneous abortion, far more than die from induced abortion, so if antiabortion theorists really believe that human fetuses have significant moral status, they have strong moral obligations to oppose spontaneous abortion. Yet, few antiabortion theorists devote any effort to doing so. Many prochoice theorists argue that to resolve this inconsistency, antiabortion theorists should abandon their opposition to induced abortion. Here, I argue that those who do not abandon their opposition to induced abortion but continue to neglect spontaneous abortion act immorally. Aristotle argues that moral responsibility requires both control and awareness; I argue that once an antiabortion theorist becomes aware of the frequency of spontaneous abortion, they have a strong moral obligation to redirect their efforts towards combating spontaneous abortion; failure to do so is morally monstrous.

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