Abortion and Social Responsibility: Depolarizing the Debate by Laurie Shrage

By Laurie Shrage

Shrage argues that Roe v Wade's regulatory scheme of a six-month time span for abortion on call for polarized the general public and obscured possible choices with almost certainly broader aid. She explores the origins of that scheme, then defends an alternative one--with a time span shorter than 6 months for non-therapeutic abortions--that may perhaps win vast help had to make felony abortion providers on hand to all ladies.

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Extra resources for Abortion and Social Responsibility: Depolarizing the Debate (Studies in Feminist Philosophy)

Sample text

In short, although the live-birth problem explains the appeal of restricting abortion after viability, it does not completely explain why the Roe Court chose not to restrict nontherapeutic abortions before viability, as Blackmun's initial scheme would have allowed. That is, the justices might have gone with a scheme promoted by the reformers rather than the repeal advocates, one that permitted states to limit abortions somewhere in the second trimester to a set of therapeutically defined practices.

However, in the current medical context this is not the case. So if society wants to restrict elective fetal destruction and abortion at some point in a pregnancy, judges and legislators will need criteria other than viability. " Instead, our laws can designate a point along the continuum of change that pregnancy involves. Our laws do this frequently, when for example they stipulate a minimum age for driving, voting, or drinking. 77 We don't need to imagine that, when a person turns eighteen, some critical stage of "maturity" has been reached in order to justify the rights and privileges she gains at this age.

Dworkin's third reason for the appropriateness of viability is more compatible with his general analysis that, when the state regulates abortion, it is fulfilling its responsibility to uphold a fundamental social value. Although the state may not impose a particular way of respecting the sanctity of human life, it can proscribe actions that reflect indifference to this principle without violating our privacy or freedom of conscience. He argues that allowing states to prohibit nontherapeutic abortions at viability only prohibits actions that show indifference to a widely shared principle, not actions that reflect different understandings of this principle.

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