Fathers and fetuses

Ethics. 1986 Apr;96(3):594-603. doi: 10.1086/292777.


KIE: Harris postulates that in certain instances it would be morally impermissible for a woman to have an abortion because it would be a wrongful harm to the father and a violation of his autonomy. He constructs and analyzes five cases chosen to elucidate the moral issues involved and concludes that, for a man to lay claim to the fetus being his in a sense that the mother is obligated to respect, the fetus must be the result of his having pursued a legitimate interest in procreation in a morally legitimate way. When a man has satisfied the requirements of autonomy both for himself and for his sexual partner in regard to the interest in procreation, the woman has a prima facie obligation to him not to harm the fetus. Therefore, unless there is some contravening moral consideration that overrides this obligation, the abortion of the fetus is morally impermissible.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Deception
  • Ethics*
  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Freedom*
  • Human Rights*
  • Humans
  • Marriage
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Pregnancy*
  • Pregnant Women*
  • Rape
  • Reproduction*
  • Sexuality
  • Single Person
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Spouses
  • Third-Party Consent
  • Women's Rights
  • Wounds and Injuries