Thanks Elle, as always I appreciate your civility and measured tone. I am most definitely not a philosophical pragmatist but can appreciate the need for safe abortion where it is legal or considered appropriate even if one might judge it immoral.

My problem with the debate at the moment, peering across the great divide to the US from here (but similar things are happening here) is that politicians seem to be trying to show how “liberal” they are on this issue by supporting late trimester abortion and arguing about what should happen to babies born alive after a “failed” abortion or even if parents who realise their child is severely disabled should be allowed to euthanase after birth — it is so easy to tag on the “unwanted” justification here when really they are saying “inconvenient”. This, I feel, is rather different than the argument you are making about viability, for these lives are clearly viable or are in the region of semi-viability.

Now the pragmatist can live with these scenarios (as Richard Rorty infamously commented) but it seems to me a very dangerous way to proceed, particularly regarding the euthanasing of babies, older people or people in a coma because of some pragmatic assessment that their life is no longer worth living. This is getting built into the legislation in some States such that the medical profession can do this apart from relatives — maybe in some edge cases this is necessary, but in the UK palliative care is increasingly becoming morphine them up and finish them off, the beds they are occupying are too expensive!

I suppose, on reflection, in one sense I am very concerned what the practical consequences will be of such legislation and political posturing, as witnessed by the decision of Queens attorney general that he could not press judges for the murder of the baby when the mother was killed because abortion had been removed from the NY criminal code.

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I write engineering software for a technical website and am studying part-time for a PhD in Philosophy,

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