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Chapter Summary
Value of life principle versus principle of individual freedom. When does life begin and when
should it be protected? Extreme positions on each side both support absolute rights.
Abortion in American history
In 1800 abortion was tolerated.
In 1900 abortion was banned in every state.
In 1973 Roe v. Wade overturned laws against abortion.
The legal status of abortion in the United States
Legality of abortion based on “trimester” approach:
1st trimester – permitted without exception
2nd trimester – permitted with restrictions
3rd trimester – prohibited except threat to life or health of woman
When does human life begin?
1. Life is present from conception but there may be different point at which such a life can be
considered human.
2. The concept passes through various stages of development. The closer to “viability” the
more “human” it becomes.
3. Difficult to state that, in earliest stages, the life is fully human. Equally difficult to state that
after the twelfth week this is not an actual human life.
Arguments against abortion
1. Genetic view of the beginning of human life
2. Sanctity or value of life argument
3. The Domino argument
4. The dangers of abortion to the mother’s life
a. Medical
b. Psychological
5. The relative safety of pregnancy
6. The existence of viable alternatives
7. The irrelevance of economic considerations
8. Responsibility for sexual activities
9. Rape and incest
Arguments for abortion
1. Rights of women over their bodies
2. Birth as the beginning of human life
3. Problem of unwanted or deformed children
a. Adoption as poor solution
b. Lack of human institutions
Copyright © 2009 Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All rights reserved.