Dignity and the Duty to Protect Unborn Life

In UNDERSTANDING HUMAN DIGNITY (Christopher McCrudden ed., 2014) Forthcoming

Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 294

16 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2013

See all articles by Reva Siegel

Reva Siegel

Yale University - Law School

Date Written: July 25, 2013

Abstract

This essay analyses competing claims on dignity in constitutional judgments about abortion that impose on government a constitutional duty to protect unborn life. Over decades of debate, courts deciding abortion cases have adopted different approaches to reconciling commitments to dignity as liberty, dignity as equality, and dignity as life. Courts vary over time and across borders in the ways they require respect for dignity in the regulation of abortion, as the essay shows by comparing leading German abortion judgments and cases of several other jurisdictions. This analysis suggests that evolving conceptions of women as deliberative agents play a role in the abortion case law, even in jurisdictions that constitutionalize a duty to protect unborn life. Attention to the ways law coordinates competing claims on dignity in the abortion cases offers a fascinating window on the roles dignity can play in mediating conflict within a constitutional community.

Keywords: abortion, Roe v. Wade, dignity, liberty, equality, life, German, women, constitutional, constitution, constitutionalize, conflict, court, courts, comparative

Suggested Citation

Siegel, Reva B., Dignity and the Duty to Protect Unborn Life (July 25, 2013). In UNDERSTANDING HUMAN DIGNITY (Christopher McCrudden ed., 2014) Forthcoming, Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 294, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2298275 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2298275

Reva B. Siegel (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203-432-6791 (Phone)

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