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Pro-Life, Pro-Choice

Shared Values in the Abortion Debate

Bertha Manninen

Publication Year: 2014

In this provocative and accessible book, the author defends a pro-choice perspective but also takes seriously pro-life concerns about the moral value of the human fetus, questioning whether a fetus is nothing more than "mere tissue." She examines the legal status of the fetus in the recent Personhood Amendments in state legislatures and in Supreme Court decisions and asks whether Roe v. Wade should have focused on the viability of the fetus or on the bodily integrity of the woman.

Manninen approaches the abortion controversy through a variety of perspectives and ethical frameworks. She addresses the social circumstances that influence many women's decision to abort and considers whether we believe that there are good and bad reasons to abort. Manninen also looks at the call for post-abortion fetal grieving rituals for women who desire them and the attempt to make room in the pro-choice position for the views of prospective fathers.

The author spells out how the two sides demonize each other and proposes ways to find degrees of convergence between the seemingly intractable positions.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

The production of this book would not have been possible had it not been for the combined efforts of so many people. I would like to first thank Michael Ames, my editor, for his indispensable comments, remarkable...

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Introduction and Background

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pp. 1-10

My personal views about abortion have changed throughout the years. As a teenager, being the product of a Catholic home, I was very “pro-life.” I believed that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception and that its right...

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1. Why Roe v. Wade’s Argument Fails

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pp. 11-45

Embryos and fetuses are alive and human. This is a biological fact. But biological facts alone do not settle moral issues. The contentious issue is whether embryos and fetuses are human persons—that is, whether fetuses are proper subjects of moral status and moral rights, and...

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2. Responsibility and Other Worries

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pp. 46-67

Although I often donate blood, sometimes I value my errands or work deadlines more than donation. Typically this is not regarded as a breach of any specific duty to another person—I do not owe anyone a pint of my blood. However, were my daughter in need of a blood transfusion...

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3. Of Women and Fetuses: Battling the False Dichotomy

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pp. 68-88

I have, thus far, been primarily concerned with defending abortion rights and responding to the concerns others may have about my arguments. For the remainder of the book I discuss a variety of issues that contribute to the...

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4. Pro-Choice, Not Pro-Abortion: Rethinking the Pro-Choice Strategy

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pp. 89-103

Heidi, now forty-two, had an abortion when she was twenty-four. As she reflects on the experience, she notes that although she never regretted the abortion, she didn’t want to be dismissive of it either. She never “experienced...

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5. A Pro-Choice Moral Framework

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pp. 104-136

It has been four decades since Roe v. Wade granted women abortion rights, and the moral debate has far from abated. The dispute is not simply between pro- and anti-choice advocates; even among pro-choice advocates...

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6. Respecting Fetal Life and Pregnant Women: Building upon Shared Values

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pp. 137-159

In previous chapters I briefly touched on the need for the pro-choice community to embrace women who face emotional difficulties after an abortion. I have also mentioned that both pro- and anti-choice advocates should set their...

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7. The Forgotten Father: Men and Abortion

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pp. 160-184

In the fall of 2004, I was teaching an introductory ethics course at a community college in Iowa City, Iowa. Having taught at the university level for five years by that time, I was used to a variety of mundane excuses for students’...

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pp. 185-190

I know a young woman who became pregnant at nineteen while a sophomore in college even though she and her partner were using birth control. Her partner denied parentage, and her conservative family told her that she...


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pp. 191-222


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pp. 223-229

E-ISBN-13: 9780826519924
E-ISBN-10: 082651992X

Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Abortion -- Law and legislation -- United States.
  • Abortion -- Moral and ethical aspects -- United States.
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