Someone asked for some tips of teaching the topic of abortion using our Thinking Critically About Abortion book. Here are some, quickly developed.
- (a) most 'applied' ethical issues depend on knowing or understanding the facts, but here the facts about fetuses are hidden [in women] and although there is scientific research on the development of fetuses, most people don't know much about it: many people's empirical understanding is based on images of later fetuses and abortions that aren't representative of most abortions;
- (b) there is at least the potential for the application of conflicting moral principles here, and most people have little experience carefully engaging or applying any moral principles even when there are no potential conflicts like this;
- (c) the topic is often seen as intertwined with religion (although it needn't be), which often leads to responses that don't contribute to positive engagement on the issues;
- (d) there is the "political" element, which doesn't contribute careful, reasoned arguments;
- (e) people are just more defensive on this topic than many others, for a variety of (bad) reasons.