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Reason, Morality, and LawThe Philosophy of John Finnis$
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John Keown and Robert P. George

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199675500

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199675500.001.0001

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Constitutional and Other Persons

Constitutional and Other Persons

(p.249) 16 Constitutional and Other Persons
Reason, Morality, and Law

Gerard V. Bradley

Oxford University Press

Since 1954, when the Supreme Court declared that segregated schools were ‘inherently unequal’, no proposition of American constitutional law has been more important than the Roe Court's assertion that unborn human beings are not ‘persons’ within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. This chapter analyses this proposition, in light of the proliferation of state and federal ‘feticide’ laws enacted since Roe was decided in 1973. It argues that those laws and the many convictions under them, expose the futility of Roe's strategic distinction between ‘constitutional’ personhood, and the moral (or metaphysical) truth about when persons begin, a matter which the Court scrupulously avoided. The chapter also adduces considerable historical evidence that ‘person’ in the Fourteenth Amendment was meant to extend to all individuals who were, in truth, persons.

Keywords:   abortion, person, equal protection, feticide, justification, Roe v. Wade

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