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Bioethics ; 35(5): 465-472, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1165822


Pro-life advocates commonly argue that fetuses have the moral status of persons, and an accompanying right to life, a view most pro-choice advocates deny. A difficulty for this pro-life position has been Judith Jarvis Thomson's violinist analogy, in which she argues that even if the fetus is a person, abortion is often permissible because a pregnant woman is not obliged to continue to offer her body as life support. Here, we outline the moral theories underlying public health ethics, and examine the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of public health considerations overriding individual rights. We argue that if fetuses are regarded as persons, then abortion is of such prevalence in society that it also constitutes a significant public health crisis. We show that on public health considerations, we are justified in overriding individual rights to bodily autonomy by prohibiting abortion. We conclude that in a society that values public health, abortion can only be tolerated if fetuses are not regarded as persons.

Abortion, Induced/ethics , COVID-19 , Fetus , Human Rights , Pandemics/ethics , Personhood , Public Health/ethics , Civil Rights , Dissent and Disputes , Ethical Analysis , Ethical Theory , Female , Humans , Moral Obligations , Moral Status , Pregnancy , Pregnant Women , Reproductive Rights , Value of Life
Hastings Cent Rep ; 50(3): 40-43, 2020 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-619431


Common hospital and surgical center responses to the Covid-19 pandemic included curtailing "elective" procedures, which are typically determined based on implications for physical health and survival. However, in the focus solely on physical health and survival, procedures whose main benefits advance components of well-being beyond health, including self-determination, personal security, economic stability, equal respect, and creation of meaningful social relationships, have been disproportionately deprioritized. We describe how female reproduction-related procedures, including abortion, surgical sterilization, reversible contraception devices and in vitro fertilization, have been broadly categorized as "elective," a designation that fails to capture the value of these procedures or their impact on women's overall well-being. We argue that corresponding restrictions and delays of these procedures are problematically reflective of underlying structural views that marginalize women's rights and interests and therefore threaten to propagate gender injustice during the pandemic and beyond. Finally, we propose a framework for triaging reproduction-related procedures during Covid-19 that is more individualized, accounts for their significance for comprehensive well-being, and can be used to inform resumption of operations as well as subsequent restriction phases.

Abortion, Induced/ethics , Contraception/ethics , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Elective Surgical Procedures/ethics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Reproductive Rights/ethics , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Developing Countries , Female , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Time Factors , Women's Health