Final HEAL seminar in this academic year’s series: Elselijn Kingma speaking on “Can a Gestator Harm her Gestatee? Physical Indistinctness and Deontological Distinctions”

In 2015, Best interests, Bioethics, Meetings, Reproduction on May 5, 2015 at 3:27 pm

We would like to welcome you to our last HEAL seminar in the series for the 2014-15 academic year. It will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, May 6th at 4pm in Room 4/4053. Our speaker will be Dr. Elselijn Kingma, who will be speaking on “Can a Gestator Harm her Gestatee? Physical Indistinctness and Deontological Distinctions”. Abstract below.

We hope you will also be able to join us for the inaugural HEAL Annual Lecture on Thursday, May 7th at 6pm.

Dr. Elselijn Kingma (Southampton)

Can a Gestator Harm her Gestatee? Physicical Indistinctness and Deontological Distinctions

ABSTRACT It is commonly asserted that pregnant women can harm their unborn child, for example by smoking or drinking alcohol. On these grounds pregnant women are increasingly not just socially, but also criminally held to task for such behaviour. In this paper I argue women cannot harm their foetuses in these particular ways. This is because the concept bringing about harm relies on a particular kind of deontological distinction that underlies both common sense morality and much of the law. This distinction is not able to accommodate the physical intertwinement and interdependence that characterises the maternal-fetal relationship. Harm-talk is therefore inappropriate, and the effects of maternal behaviour on their foetus cannot be analysed within current moral and legal frameworks.

  1. […] The UK government recently announced new guidelines on the consumption of alcohol, recommending no more than 14 units per week (for both men and women), adding that there should be some drink-free days each week, and stressing that there are no ‘safe’ levels of alcohol consumption. The guidelines also recommend complete abstinence during pregnancy – an issue that I won’t touch on here, though colleagues in Southampton’s Philosophy department have been conducting important research on pregnancy, including the demands made on pregnant women, with implications for this. […]

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