Ann“Access to abortion is an integral part of women’s reproductive health care and women have the ethical right to receive this along with other supportive services”- Ann Furedi

Abortion has historically been a contentious issue on several grounds including moral, ethical, religious and legal. But seldom do we see the women’s right to abortion being debated on grounds of morality. The anti-choice groups frame the ethical debate over abortion in the context of the right to life of the fetus while the pro-choice groups respond with the women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy.

Making a remarkable shift Ann Furedi Chief Executive of bpas, sets out the ethical arguments for a woman’s right to choose in her new book: The Moral Case for Abortion. Drawing on sociological thought and moral philosophy, Furedi argues that ‘there is a strong moral case for recognizing autonomy in personal reproductive decisions, and that supporting a woman’s right to abortion has ethical foundations and integrity’

Furedi argues that to prevent a woman from making her own choice to continue or end her pregnancy is to undermine the essence of her humanity. She asserts that true respect for human life and true regard for individual conscience demand that we respect a woman’s right to decide.

So often, the anti-choice movement gets to monopolize morality. And while there are myriad pragmatic arguments in favour of abortion, Furedi questioned whether this is enough. Instead, she presented the moral case in favour of abortion, arguing that an embryo is not yet ‘one of us’. Ending life means something different to humans, compared to a being that does not know it’s alive. We have aspirations; we have autonomy to use our minds. That is the real difference.

Furedi recognizes that women would have different views on this matter. But what is not debatable is that women themselves have lives, and the value of those lives does not lessen when they become pregnant. A woman’s value is in her biography, not her biology. A woman’s decisions are her own, and it is women who live with the outcomes of reproductive choices, not the politicians who seek to regulate them.

Fruedi’s arguments draws upon the Kantian imperative that people should not be regarded as a mere means to an end but an end in themselves. She draws upon the principles of bodily autonomy and associated decision making, and stresses that it’s morally reprehensible to deny this capacity for choice/ decision making to those who are the closest to the consequences.

This thought-provoking book provides a fresh perspective on abortion, which will interest both pro- and anti-choice individuals and organizations, along with academics in the fields of gender studies, philosophy, ethics and religion.