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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1219085
 
 

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Life and Death Before Birth: 4D Ultrasound and the Shifting Frontiers of the Abortion Debate


Kristin L. Savell


University of Sydney - Faculty of Law

August 11, 2008

Journal of Law and Medicine, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 103-116, 2007
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/89

Abstract:     
The development of 4D ultrasound technology has democratized fetal imagery by offering direct visual access to realistic images of the fetus in utero. These images, which purport to show a responsive being capable of complex behavior, have renewed debate about the personhood of the fetus and the adequacy of current abortion regulation. This article considers recent abortion law reform initiatives in the United Kingdom and the United States and observes two shifts in the frontiers of these debates. The first concerns a shift from viability to sentience as a criterion of legal significance. The second concerns a shift toward constructing abortion in terms of feticide as distinct from the termination of pregnancy. Both strategies seek to deploy morphological similarities between the sentient fetus and newborn baby as a basis for extending law's dominion over the fetus.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 15

Keywords: Abortion, law reform initiatives, partial birth abortion, fetal imaging, fetal personhood, public debates

JEL Classification: K10, K30

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Date posted: August 13, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Savell, Kristin L., Life and Death Before Birth: 4D Ultrasound and the Shifting Frontiers of the Abortion Debate (August 11, 2008). Journal of Law and Medicine, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 103-116, 2007; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/89. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1219085

Contact Information

Kristin L. Savell (Contact Author)
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law ( email )
Faculty of Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
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