Introduction: It is often noted that public discussion of the moral status of abortion is disappointingly crude. The positions staked out and the reasoning proffered seem to reflect little of the subtlety and nuance – not to mention ambivalence – that mark more private reflections on the subject. Despite attempts by various parties to find middle ground, the debate remains largely polarized: at its most dramatic, with extreme conservatives claiming abortion to be the moral equivalent of murder, even as extreme liberals think it devoid of moral import.To some extent, this polarization is due to the legal battle that continues to shadow moral discussions. Admission of ethical nuance, it is feared, will play as concession on the deeply contested question of whether abortion should be a legally protected option for women. But, to some extent, blame for the continued crudeness can be laid at the doorstep of moral theory itself.