The ethics of abortions for fetuses with congenital abnormalities Academic Article uri icon


  • Abortion remains a highly contentious moral issue, with the debate usually framed as a battle between the fetus's right to life and the woman's right to choose. Often overlooked in this debate is the impact of the concurrent legalization of abortion and the development of new prenatal screening tests on the birth prevalence of many inherited diseases. Most proponents of abortion support abortion for fetuses with severe congenital diseases, but there has unfortunately been, in our opinion, too little debate over the moral appropriateness of abortion for much less severe congenital conditions such as Down's syndrome, deafness, and dwarfism. Due to scientific advances, we are looking at a future in which prenatal diagnosis will be safer and more accurate, raising the specter, and the concomitant ethical concerns, of wholesale abortions. Herein, we present a reframing of the abortion debate that better encompasses these conditions and offers a more nuanced position.

publication date

  • October 1, 2010