Laurie Shrage, professor of philosophy, looks at the way framing of abortion is important to the way people talk about it. Public debate of abortion framed around the ethics and morals of individuals raises different barriers to consensus then framing it as a medical service or procedure. When people frame debate around moral and ethical arguments, it becomes difficult to arrive at a consensus; once it does not meet the views already held by an individual, they will deem abortion as unacceptable before any debate has occurred. The diversity of moral and ethical beliefs among individuals makes it difficult to find consensus on many issues, including same-sex marriage.

If public debate around abortion is framed as a medical service or procedure, it allows people to focus on the circumstances and /or reasons that abortion by trained medical practitioners should be prohibited. This changes the debate from one about individual ethics, to one about best medical practice that assess health risks and outcomes. Legal abortions have been found to be safe and effective. The risks and complexity of abortion increases as the pregnancy progresses, with the final third of the pregnancy having the highest risk and the greatest medical complexity. Therefore, it is important that the boundaries are decided for what is prohibited and what is not, so that delays are not encountered that can increase the medical risk of the procedure.

Not all policy can be solved through moral or ethical grounds. Focusing on the individual’s belief at the expense of policy violates the values of a society underpinned by democracy, liberty, and equality. Laurie Shrage posits that asking if abortion is immoral questions the rights and morality of entire groups; it can encourage extreme views and moral arrogance towards others.

Asking if access to abortion services is immoral during public debate gives the impression that society is permanently divided and that there are no resolutions to policy questions. Lawmaking is not required to individually meet the moral or ethical standards of each person within society.

The original article can be found at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/opinion/abortion-arguments-morality-policy.html

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