Is the Fetus a Person?: A Comparison of Policies Across the Fifty States

Is the Fetus a Person?: A Comparison of Policies Across the Fifty States

by Jean Reith Schroedel
     
 

ISBN-10: 0801437075

ISBN-13: 9780801437076

Pub. Date: 06/28/2000

Publisher: Cornell University Press

Without a doubt, the sharpest public debates over the value of fetal life have revolved around the conditions, if any, under which abortion should be legal. Yet the question of whether the fetus is or is not a person is central in two other policy domains: substance abuse by pregnant women and assaults on pregnant women, especially assaults that cause the death of…  See more details below

Overview

Without a doubt, the sharpest public debates over the value of fetal life have revolved around the conditions, if any, under which abortion should be legal. Yet the question of whether the fetus is or is not a person is central in two other policy domains: substance abuse by pregnant women and assaults on pregnant women, especially assaults that cause the death of a fetus.At first glance, all three issues seem similar—all ask the question of how the state should respond to actions that threaten or destroy fetal life. But the response of state and society to each has been very different: while the highly charged debate over abortion rights rages unabated, the other two issues engender no such social or political divisions. And while drug use and third-party fetal killings are universally condemned, "fetal abuse" is a term used only to describe harm that a pregnant woman brings to her own fetus, and not harm brought to it by a third party. Similarly, a great deal of media attention has been paid to such "fetal abuse," while the question of third-party harm has been all but ignored.Is the Fetus a Person? analyzes fetal personhood by examining all of the major areas of the law that could implicitly or explicitly award the fetus such status. Jean Reith Schroedel presents a comprehensive history of fetal protection ideas and policies in America, considering the moral and legal underpinnings of existing laws while paying particular attention to the influence of gender and power relations on their formation. As much a model for future research as a study of the status of the fetus, this book offers an extraordinary examination of one of the most divisive and complex issues of late-twentieth-century American life.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801437076
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
06/28/2000
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Prefacexi
Part I.Background and Overview
1.Introduction1
Framing the Issue of Fetal Personhood3
The Debate over Fetal Personhood5
Legal Status of the Fetus7
The Research Design8
Organization of the Book14
2.Fetal Personhood through the Centuries16
The Moral and Legal Dimensions of Fetal Status17
The Early Moral Discourse17
The Christian Church's Opposition to Abortion18
The Impact of Moral Beliefs on Legal Developments20
Fetal Status in Antebellum America24
Changes in Nineteenth-Century Legal Doctrine26
The Movement to Criminalize Abortion27
Changes in the Legal Status of the Fetus in Civil Cases31
The Criminalization of Third-Party Fetal Killing34
The Movement to Reform Abortion Laws35
Expansion of Fetal Rights44
Applying the Adversarial Lens to the Other Fetal Policy Areas47
The Problem of Substance Abuse by Pregnant Women48
Summary55
Part II.Interpreting the Patterns
3.Abortion Policymaking in the States57
The Policy Framework57
Morality Policy as Social Regulation and the Redistribution of Values58
Applying the Morality Policy Framework to Fetal Policies59
Abortion Policymaking62
State Laws Banning Abortion66
The Shift toward Enacting Limited Abortion Bans68
Overall Restrictiveness of Abortion Bans75
Post-Roe Restrictions on Abortion76
Restrictions on Adult Women80
Restrictions on Minors92
Measuring the Overall Restrictiveness of Abortion Laws96
Summary99
4.Prenatal Drug Exposure and Third-Party Fetal Killings100
One-Sided Morality Policymaking and Fetal Status100
Policy Responses to Substance Abuse by Pregnant Women101
Legislative Responses to the Problem of Prenatal Drug Exposure105
Criminal Prosecution of Pregnant Addicts113
Policy Responses to Third-Party Fetal Assaults and Killings120
Legislative Responses to Third-Party Fetal Assaults and Killings125
Third-Party Fetal Killing Statutes126
Judicial Responses to Third-Party Fetal Killings131
Summary136
5.Explaining Fetal Policies across the States138
Searching for the Common Thread in Fetal Policies138
Public Opinion and State Abortion Policies139
Public Opinion and State Policies toward Prenatal Drug Exposure142
Public Opinion and Policies toward Third-Party Fetal Killing143
Summing Up the Impact of Public Opinion144
Assessing the Fetal Rights and Women's Rights Narratives145
Modeling Abortion Policymaking in the States158
Summary162
6.Where Do We Go from Here?165
Federalism and Fetal Personhood165
The States'-Rights Approach to Fetal Personhood167
New Assaults on Abortion Rights168
New Efforts to Expand Fetal Rights/Personhood171
Enormous Disparities in Legal Status of the Fetus183
The Link between Fetal Rights and the Antiabortion Movement185
An Opportunity to Find Common Ground188
References191
List of Cases211
Subject Index215
Legal Index221

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