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The Ethics of Access: Reframing the Need for Abortion Care as a Health Disparity

Published: 27 May 2022

Abstract: The majority of U.S. abortion patients are poor women, and Black and Hispanic women. Therefore, this article encourages bioethicists and equity advocates to consider whether the need for abortion care should be considered a health disparity, and if yes, whether framing it this way would increase the ability of poor women and women of color to get the medical care they need. In order to engage with these critical questions, bioethicists must avoid abortion exceptionalism and respect patients as moral agents. Centering the conscience of pregnant people shifts our analysis away from the ethics of the act of abortion, and toward the ethics of access to abortion care. Because the Supreme Court is on the brink of shifting the question of abortion’s legality to state legislatures, this is the moment for all bioethicists to clarify and strengthen their thinking, writing, and teaching in abortion ethics.
Keywords: Abortion / children and families / contraception / cultural studies / health equity / justice / De-Medicalizing Abortion / A Health Disparity Framework for Abortion Eliminates Critical Discourse and Debate / The Role of Epistemic Injustice in Abortion Access Disparities / Ending the Debate Whether State-Mandated Pregnancies are Matters of Bioethics Concern / Rethinking Fetal Personhood in Conceptualizing Roe / See None / Do None / Teach None: How Dismantling Roe Impacts Medical Education and Physician Training / More than Semantics: Abortion Access and Equity / News Coverage of Abortion in Relation to Race and Class in the United States in 2021 / Private Conversations / Public Debate / Beware the Jackalopes / Abortion and the Intersection of Ethics

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