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Should a Pregnant Woman Be Executed?

GUEST COLUMN

By John R. Vile | January-February 1988
John R. Vile is Professor of Government and Head of the Department of Social Sciences at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court declared in Roe v. Wade that it was unable to ascertain wheth­er a fetus is human; the Court decided that a wom­an’s right to privacy prevails over any rights of the fetus, at least through the first two trimesters and prior to “viability.” Accordingly, any rights the fetus has prior to this time are subservient to the rights of the woman carrying the child.

While altering the laws of the land, the Court’s decision has failed to convince most abor­tion foes that the fetus is not a person with certain natural rights. Some have made theological or spiri­tual arguments; others have relied either primarily or secondarily on biology. Advocates of abortion-on-demand have, for their part, either emphasized the interests of the woman carrying a child or de­nied that the fetus is entitled to any rights.

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