Secondary Research and Writing
Portia N. Graham
November 18, 2012
Readers of this essay should beware. You will find it easy to assume as you read that I am criticizing the assumptions common to Roe, Casey, and the popular anti-choice movement in order to support the platform of abortion choice. Nothing could be further from the truth. My analysis of the standard view will constitute the bulk of this essay. After that I shall offer a brief account of a replacement for the standard view that underwrites the prohibition of abortion choice. I shall contend that this replacement view remedies the deficiencies of the standard view. I shall also suggest that this replacement is far more plausible than the standard view for other reasons.
How can the abortion issue be resolved? Many believe that the issue can be resolved if, and only if, we can determine when human life begins. Those opposed to abortion choice typically say that human life begins at conception. Many who favor abortion choice say that we will never know when human life begins. The importance of the when does human life-begin issue is not so much argued for as it is taken to be self-evident. Furthermore, belief that this issue is fundamental is taken for granted at least outside of philosophy by many of the people who seem to disagree about almost everything else concerning abortion. It has been my experience that with rare exceptions even those who insist that the issue of abortion should focus on the interests of pregnant women believe that this focus is warranted because fetuses are either not yet fully alive or not yet fully human. The prevalence of this assumption is illustrated by the structure of this conference. The session titled “The Beginning of Life” contains talks by two individuals who have written extensively about abortion and who disagree about its permissibility. Presumably those who put this conference together simply assumed that the abortion disagreement is a...
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