chapter  8
47 Pages

Abortion and Pre-natal Harm

Broadly speaking, 'abortion' denotes the practice of terminating a pregnancy in such a way as to destroy the life of the foetus being carried by the pregnant woman. This chapter considers the principal moral arguments for and against abortion, together with the additional factors which influence the legal response to what many regard as an ethical impasse. Beyond the context of abortion, it is readily apparent that injuries may be caused to a foetus in utero which subsequently lead to it being born disabled. The chapter analyses the present state of the law, and the implications for the parties most directly affected by the practice. It discusses the question of abortion to address the legal position in relation to other forms of avoidable pre-natal harm. Self-evidently, the existence of the regime under the 1967 Abortion Act, permitting legal abortion in a large number of circumstances, means that the foetus has no legal right to life.