The Replaceable Fetus: A Reflection on Abortion and Disability

Bertha Alvarez Manninen


Although I self-identify as pro-choice, I do believe certain instances of abortion can be classified as, in Judith Jarvis Thomson's words, indecent. This paper explores one such case and uses it as a lens for a wider discussion on the moral dimensions of aborting due to fetal disability. Using virtue ethics as my foundational framework, I argue that while some cases of aborting due to fetal disability need not manifest vicious character traits, some very well may. In particular, I am concerned with cases where fetuses that had been thus far welcomed and loved by their respective community are suddenly regarded as candidates for abortion simply because they may have been diagnosed with a disability. That is, I am worried about cases where disability is deemed sufficient grounds for dehumanizing a being who had been, up until that point, embraced.


Abortion; Disability; Down syndrome; Virtue Ethics

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Copyright (c) 2015 Bertha Alvarez Manninen

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