Reproduction and ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L083-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved March 03, 2024, from

Article Summary

The first reproductive issue debated extensively by philosophers was abortion. Debates about its morality were, and still are, dominated by the issue of the moral status of the foetus, on which a wide variety of views has been defended. The most ‘conservative’ view is usually associated with very restrictive abortion policies, inconsistent with ‘a woman’s right to choose’ (though the connection has been challenged by Judith Jarvis Thomson). However, all but the most conservative find it hard to ground prevailing moral intuitions concerning the newer issue of using human embryos for research purposes. Embryos, and even gametes, also assume importance in the context of methods for overcoming infertility (artificial insemination by donor (AID), egg and embryo donation involving in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy) where issues about rights and ownership may arise. Considerations of ‘the welfare of the child’, often used to settle surrogacy disputes, also bear on questions of what should, or may, be done to avoid bringing a child with a genetic abnormality into the world. Current philosophical literature on reproductive issues is largely limited to a vocabulary of rights and little attention is paid to the social and familial contexts in which reproductive decisions are usually made

    Citing this article:
    Hursthouse, Rosalind. Reproduction and ethics, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L083-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
    Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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