Audrey Olivia Pohlod


Presentation: 3:00-4:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



Download Project (3.8 MB)


I examine a case that involves a disabled pregnant woman from the United Kingdom whom a judge ruled must have an abortion, against the wishes of the woman and her mother. The woman suffers from a disability which gives her the mental capacity of between a six and nine-year-old, despite being in her twenties, but the fetus itself bore no evidence of impairment. The woman’s mother had stated her willingness to care for the fetus once born, but the judge determined the woman’s life would be worse if the pregnancy was continued. Personal autonomy and social expectations are issues relevant in this case. The pregnant woman and her mother as persons have a measure of autonomy, a capacity which forms the basis of freedoms. This capacity thus begs the question of whether a judge has the right to overrule the women’s decisions in regards to the abortion. The judge within this case also hints that the United Kingdom’s society frowns upon abortion, but that the social expectations should not hold weight when deciding the best action to promote the well-being of the pregnant woman.The Categorical Imperative of Kantian ethics holds that one should act only on that maxim that could hold as a universal law, and in this case, forcing abortions against the will of the mother would not hold universally. Utilizing justice and virtue ethics, I claim that it would be most just to support the will of the pregnant woman and her mother. Finally, natural law theory would consider the act of forced abortion a negative action to bring about a good effect, and thus the judge’s ruling would fail the principle of double effect. Therefore, I argue that the judge’s decision to force the abortion of the woman’s fetus was immoral.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project - PHL 315 H1

Primary Advisor

Viorel Paslaru

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Case Analysis: Forced Abortion of Disabled Woman's Fetus