Childbearing and Regret
Dr Anthony McCarthy has published a response in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics to Kate Greasley’s JME paper on regret for abortion or childbearing.
Is moral or other regret for abortion an indicator that abortion may not be morally or prudentially choice worthy? This paper examines the work of Kate Greasley in this area, who offers an explanation of any asymmetry in openness to regret between women who have abortions and women who give birth. The latter, not unlike Derek Parfit’s 14-year-old who conceives deliberately, may feel duty-bound not to regret their decision (in their case, to continue their pregnancy) and to affirm the life of their child. In response to Greasley, testimonial evidence of one group cannot be dismissed simply because regret may be less available to another group of decision-makers. Moreover, if moral regret for childbearing is uncommon, this is not because mothers have a moral duty, as Greasley argues, not to regret even a morally mistaken choice to conceive. On the contrary, one must separate the evaluation of choices and of the results of these choices, whether positive or negative. Regret, while not infallible, can elucidate values at stake in choices, and testimonial evidence in the form of regret should be taken more seriously in regard to certain kinds of choice.