Abortion: Prohibitions and exceptions

Sheelagh McGuinness*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate (Academic Journal)


In the target article, Ballantyne and colleagues (2009) argue that physicians, geneticists and policy-makers have an ethical obligation to push for changes to prohibitions on abortion in caseswhere fetal abnormality has been detected following prenatal diagnosis. They make several different and important claims in order to justify the obligation, not all of which, it is suggested here, are actually directed towards the claim that there is a ‘therapeutic gap’ when prenatal diagnosis is provided in the absence of safe and legal abortions (Ballantyne et al. 2009). In the following discussion, I will consider their twomain strands of argument. The first marks the relationship between abortion and prenatal diagnosis; I consider what justifications an individual will need to put forward in order to make a principled case for abortion following a positive result for fetal abnormality. The second strand concerns the legitimacy of the State in some way condoning the existence of back street abortions or in some way ‘exporting’ abortion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-72
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Bioethics
Issue number8
Early online date1 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009

Structured keywords

  • LAW Centre for Health Law and Society


  • Prenatal Testing
  • Abortion
  • Disability
  • Law Reform

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