Moral and Legal Perspectives


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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