The Abortion Question

By Hyman Rodman; Betty Sarvis et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
THE MORAL DEBATE

THE UNITED STATES IS a pluralistic society where people of many moral and religious persuasions exist side by side. Constitutional protection of religious freedom and of the right to privacy was designed to protect this diversity of belief, particularly to protect individuals from pressure to conform to majority views. As stated in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, the right to privacy "is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." This ruling had the effect of returning the abortion decision to the individual conscience. The tolerance of most Americans for a diversity of beliefs and practices is illustrated on the abortion question by the distinction made between private morality and public policy, a theme we explore more fully in chapter 8.

After 1973 several states passed laws intended to restrict or discourage access to abortion, particularly for minors. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, rejected most of these statutes. At present no American law says a woman must have an abortion; neither is a woman legally constrained from choosing to have an abortion during the early months of pregnancy.

To many people this seems a just solution of the issue. But many others consider abortion to be the killing of a living person and argue that abortion should be prohibited. They contend that accepting abortion places us on a slippery moral slope that can lead to the acceptance of killing of other defenseless groups. The alliance of this moral position with politics, indeed the responsibility many

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The Abortion Question
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 the Rise of the Abortion Controversy 1
  • Chapter 2 the Social and Cultural Dynamics of Fertility Control 9
  • Chapter 3 the Moral Debate 29
  • Chapter 4 Medical Aspects of Abortion 45
  • Chapter 5 Psychosocial and Emotional Aspects of Abortion 71
  • Summary 86
  • Chapter 6 the Road to Roe V. Wade 89
  • Chapter 7 the Legal Controversy Since 1973 107
  • Chapter 8 Abortion Attitudes: Polls, Politics, and Prejudice 135
  • Chapter 9 Where Do We Go from Here? 157
  • Conclusion 170
  • Appendix A Historical Tale? 173
  • References 193
  • Index 213
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