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Abortion and Social ResponsibilityDepolarizing the Debate$
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Laurie Shrage

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195153095

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019515309X.001.0001

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Liberty, Equality, and Abortion

Liberty, Equality, and Abortion

(p.41) 2 Liberty, Equality, and Abortion
Abortion and Social Responsibility

Laurie Shrage (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The standard civil liberty defenses of a woman's right to abort involve principles that justify a right somewhat narrower than the right defined by Roe v. Wade. In particular, freedom from social coercion, involuntary servitude, or nonconsensual bodily use do not require six months of unrestricted access to abortion, when women have access to a full range of effective contraceptives, including backup early abortion. Because public opinion on abortion varies in accordance with the gestational stage at which abortions are performed, decreasing the time span for unrestricted abortion, while simultaneously removing restrictions that block women's access to effective birth control and therapeutically necessary abortions, would help to make abortion more widely acceptable. Winning broad public support for legal abortion will not be accomplished by clarifying its constitutional justifications – e.g., the right to privacy, to deny help, or to self‐defense – but rather by promoting women's greater access to reproductive healthcare while simultaneously adopting a moderate regulatory scheme restricting abortions that most offend public sensibilities – especially second‐trimester nontherapeutic abortions.

Keywords:   abortion, birth control, civil liberty, involuntary servitude, nonconsensual bodily use, privacy, reproductive healthcare, Roe v. Wade, self‐defense, social coercion

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