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Understanding Human Dignity$
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Christopher McCrudden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265642

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265642.001.0001

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Dignity and the Duty to Protect Unborn Life

Dignity and the Duty to Protect Unborn Life

(p.509) 30 Dignity and the Duty to Protect Unborn Life
Understanding Human Dignity

Reva Siegel

British Academy

This chapter analyses competing claims on dignity in constitutional judgments about abortion that impose on government a constitutional duty to protect unborn life. Over decades of debate, courts deciding abortion cases have adopted different approaches to reconciling commitments to dignity as liberty, dignity as equality, and dignity as life. Courts vary over time and across borders in the ways they require respect for dignity in the regulation of abortion, as the essay shows by comparing leading German abortion judgments and cases of several other jurisdictions. This analysis suggests that evolving conceptions of women as deliberative agents play a role in the abortion case law, even in jurisdictions that constitutionalize a duty to protect unborn life. Attention to the ways law coordinates competing claims on dignity in the abortion cases offers a fascinating window on the roles dignity can play in mediating conflict within a constitutional community.

Keywords:   dignity, abortion, liberty, autonomy, equality, life, respect, Germany, women, feminism, conflict

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