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Frances Kamm’s new article on the ethics of banning abortions

February 28 2023

CPLB Advisory Board member Frances Kamm has a new article forthcoming in The Journal of Practical Ethics entitled “Abortion Bans and Cruelty”. The article is posted on the journal website, ahead of its publication in print, and is intended to be accessible to a general audience.

In the article, Kamm considers whether the ethical principle known as the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE)—which distinguishes morally between killing or letting die while intending death versus while only foreseeing death will result—might justify abortion bans. She then presents criticisms of  the DDE and its use, and further argues that some implications commonly derived from the DDE may help to ground the permissibility of abortions even if the fetus is a person. Whether there are limits on applying this argument is also considered. In conclusion, Kamm considers whether (and why) NOT permitting exceptions to bans for rape and incest is cruel, and whether cruelty is a ground for the impermissibility of bans.