Alice’s Baby (Part 1) – a law graduate examines abortion

23 Feb

Where does abortion lead us morally and legally? I’m a law graduate, so by nature I like to examine the legal aspect of trends in society. I’ll save all the explanations for the follow-up article, in which I attempt to answer the questions posed by this post, but for now, here’s a legal problem of the kind you’ll find in degree-level tutorials at university law schools across the world, particularly on courses such as Medicine, Law and Ethics.

Introducing Alice: A Theoretical Case Study

Alice is a woman who has become pregnant and has subsequently decided to terminate the pregnancy. Her abortion is booked for Wednesday, the last day on which it is legally permissible for her to have the termination procedure. On the Monday morning directly preceding her abortion date, Alice is involved in a car accident and is rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The doctors are able to save Alice’s life. To achieve this, they have to remove her baby from the womb by means of an emergency Caesarean section.

On Tuesday, Alice wakes from her coma to be told that her baby has been placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and is doing as well as any premature baby, with very good prospects for a healthy future.

That night, Alice decides that she still does not want to be a mother and, in spite of her pain and the risk to her health, is able to leave her bed and slip into the unit where her baby is in an incubator.

She kills her child by means of smothering and then goes back to bed. On Wednesday morning, a nurse comes to tell her that her child has died in the night.

Questions for discussion

1.) Has Alice committed murder or infanticide? Has she taken a human life?

2.) If Alice has committed murder or infanticide, what implications does this have for abortion?

3.) If Alice has not committed murder, or we would like to say that she has not, what implications does this have for the value of human life?

I hope that’s all pretty clear and straightforward. I’ll see you on the other side in Alice’s Baby, Part 2.

One Response to “Alice’s Baby (Part 1) – a law graduate examines abortion”


  1. Alice’s Baby (Part 2) – a law graduate comments | cookiesupermarket - February 23, 2016

    […] implications of abortion for the law, and the implications of the law for abortion and society. In Part One I outlined the case of a woman killing her prematurely-born child just hours before he would have […]

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