Arguments against Legally Requiring a Pregnant Woman to Act in the Interests of her Future Child

Part of the Clinical Medical Ethics book series (CMET, volume 3)


The previous chapter argued that there are good reasons for claiming that a pregnant woman has both moral and legal duties to act in the interests of her future child, and it argued further that these obligations fall into two stages: During the first stage, she would be expected to assume only minimal burdens, while during the second stage the burdens may be greater. To understand and assess this proposed hierarchy of obligations more fully, we need to contrast a woman’s obligations at three different phases: 1) when she is not pregnant, 2) when she is pregnant but it is not clear that she will carry the pregnancy to term (and she may legally obtain an abortion for any reason), and 3) when it is clear that she will carry the pregnancy to term (i.e., the pregnancy is so advanced that she may legally get an abortion only to save her own life and/or health). The first part of this chapter examines issues peculiar to phases one and two; the second and longer part analyzes more general arguments against permitting state intervention into the lives of pregnant women that take all three phases into account.


Pregnant Woman State Intervention Prenatal Care Penal Code State Interference 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

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