The Philosopher & The News

Elizabeth Harman & The Ethics of Abortion

May 30, 2022 Alexis Papazoglou Episode 34
The Philosopher & The News
Elizabeth Harman & The Ethics of Abortion
Show Notes

On May 2nd, Politico leaked a draft opinion of the US Supreme Court that suggested the court had voted to overrule Roe v Wade, the previous high court decision from 1973 that guaranteed the right to early term abortion in all of the US. This ruling by the Supreme Court seemingly passes the power to decide on the legality of abortion to individual States, though this essentially amounts to an immediate ban on abortions in several states. 

So was the Supreme Court right in allowing individual States to decide on the legality of abortion, given the strong moral disagreement on the issue? Should the law on abortion reflect the morality of the matter? And what does the moral status of abortion depend on? 

If so many parents direct love and care towards young foetuses, does that mean they matter morally, and therefore it would be wrong to kill them? Does the foetus have a moral status merely in virtue of it being a potential person? Or is the matter a lot more complicated than that? 

Elizabeth Harman is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy at the Philosophy department and the University Center for Human Values, at the University of Princeton. One of her many longstanding research projects is about moral status, harm, and the ethics of procreation.

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Artwork by Nick Halliday

Music by Rowan Mcilvride