Built in Obsolescence: The Coming End to the Abortion Debate
17 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2008
Date Written: March 22, 2008
The current legal and political dispute is grounded in the misconception that the decision to have an abortion is one decision, a decision to terminate a fetus. In fact, in choosing an abortion, a woman is actually making two distinct choices: first, she is choosing to terminate her pregnancy, that is, remove the fetus from her body; and, second, she is choosing to terminate the fetus. Currently, a woman's decision to remove the fetus from her body (the "autonomy decision") is necessarily a medical decision to terminate the fetus (the "reproductive decision"). The current argument in favor of legalized abortion assumes that the woman's autonomy interest is inseparable from the reproductive decision. Over time, medicine will develop to the point where the decisions can be made separately with a live birth of a fetus creating no more risk to the woman than an ordinary abortion. Under those circumstances, the Supreme Court's current abortion jurisprudence offers no legal reason for a woman's interests to be given primacy in the reproductive choice over the reproductive interest of man or the state. For more than thirty years, one side of the abortion debate has argued about a right to life while the other side has argued about right to autonomy. The changing medical technology will allow the law to satisfy both sides. In the future, the law will be able to allow a woman to choose early in the pregnancy not to carry to term while making it illegal to terminate the life of a fetus. A change that will have significant consequences for all parties involved: women, men and the state.
Keywords: abortion, reproductive
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