Abortion, Moral and Legal Perspectives

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Jay L. Garfield, Patricia Hennessey
Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1984 - Law - 331 pages
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This timely volume presents essays by leading legal theorists and ethicists on the volatile topic of abortion. In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that all then-existent laws restricting abortion violated a woman's right to privacy and were therefore unconstitutional. This ruling, however, left open not only the nature and scope of the right to privacy but also the extent of permissible state interest in the fetus. Of course, no Supreme Court ruling on abortion could resolve the attendant moral questions, such as those concerning the status of the fetus or the nature of the abortion act itself. Hence, many of the central issues in the abortion debate remain unresolved.

Written from a wide range of perspectives, the essays focus on five elements: Roe v. Wade and its legal aftermath; the legal and moral status of the fetus and its implications for the status of abortion; the connection between legislation and morality in determining abortion policy; the nature of the abortion act itself, i.e, whether it is an act of killing or of passively letting die; and the nature of problematic legal and philosophical concepts, such as privacy and samaritanism. The anthology both reflects the complexity of the issues surrounding abortion and substantially clarifies and advances the debate.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are: Janet Benshoof, Nancy Davis, Philippa Foot, Stephen Galebach, Patricia King, Catharine MacKinnon, Ruth Macklin, Meredith Michaels, David A. J. Richards, Laurence Thomas, Roger Wertheimer, and Daniel Wikler.


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Selected pages


Roe v Wade A Retrospective
Majority Opinion and Rehnquist Dissent
The Legacy of Roe v Wade
A Study in Male Ideology
A Proposal for Legal Protection of the Unborn
Personhood and the Abortion Debate
Killing and Letting Die
Killing and Letting Die
Abortion and SelfDefense
Persons Privacy and Samaritanism
Abortion and the Claims of Samaritanism
A Study in Moral Character
From Roe v Wade to the Human Life Statute
Selected Supreme Court Decisions Concerning Abortion and Contraception

The Limits of Legislative and Judicial Enforcement of Controversial Moral Standards
The Reasoning of Roe v Wade
A Human Life Statute
Constitutional Privacy Religious Disestablishment and the Abortion Decisions

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Page 3 - We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.
Page 23 - These decisions make it clear that only personal rights that can be deemed "fundamental" or "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" are included in this guarantee of personal privacy. They also make it clear that the right has some extension to activities relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, and child rearing and education.
Page 23 - This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.
Page 16 - It made a willful act performed with the necessary intent a felony. It contained a proviso that one was not to be found guilty of the offense "unless it is proved that the act which caused the death of the child was not done in good faith for the purpose only of preserving the life of the mother.

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About the author (1984)

Jay L. Garfield is assistant professor of philosophy in the School of Communications and Cognitive Science, Hampshire College.

Patricia Hennessy worked on the Reproductive Freedom Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. She practices law at Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays, and Handler in New York City.

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