Since 2016, the issue of abortion has returned to the political agenda: most notably with large demonstrations in Dublin, to repeal Ireland’s anti-abortion legislation, and in Poland, in defence existing abortion rights. While in the US, concern over abortion provision following Donald Trump’s election has coincided with a UK campaign to decriminalise abortion altogether.
However, faced with the moral arguments of ‘pro-life’ campaigners in defence of the right-to-life of the foetus, many on the ‘pro-choice’ side have preferred to build a pragmatic case around the public-health benefits of abortion. But in her timely new book, The Moral Case for Abortion, Ann Furedi, sets out the ethical case for women’s right to choose. Furedi, maintains that there is a strong moral case for recognising autonomy and conscience in personal decision-making about reproductive intentions. For Furedi, it is essential to distinguish between the life of the foetus and that of the women carrying it, and to insist on the superior moral status of the women. She argues that while the foetus is worthy of respect, only women possess personhood and, as such, to prevent a woman from making her own choice to continue or end her pregnancy is to undermine the essence of her humanity.
So does a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy have moral foundations? If so, where does this leave the status of the foetus? And do arguments over health and well-being help or hinder the fight for, or defence of abortion rights?
Ann will introduce her book followed by questions and comments from our critical panel before discussion is opened-up to the audience.