Life Before Birth The Moral and Legal Status of Embryos and Fetuses, Second Edition

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-07-11
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Life Before Birth provides a coherent framework for addressing bioethical issues in which the moral status of embryos and fetuses is relevant. It is based on the "interest view" which ascribes moral standing to beings with interests, and connects the possession of interests with the capacity for conscious awareness or sentience. The theoretical framework is applied to ethical and legal topics, including abortion, prenatal torts, wrongful life, the crime of feticide, substance abuse by pregnant women, compulsory cesareans, assisted reproduction, and stem cell research. Along the way, difficult philosophical problems, such as identity and the non-identity problem are thoroughly explored. The book will be of interest not only to philosophers, but also physicians, lawyers, policy makers, and anyone perplexed by the many difficulties surrounding the unborn. "Bonnie Steinbock's excellent book is . . . consistent, thoroughgoing, and intelligible." --Nature "Steinbock's book is valuable for all interested in the ethical/legal issues surrounding abortion, prenatal injury and liability, maternal-fetal conflict, and fetal/embryo research. The author provides an excellent historical overview of these issues, but she also addresses the issues from the stance of a particular theory of moral status, namely, interest theory. This gives coherence to her discussion as well as allowing testing of the viability of interest theory." --Choice "A focused, lucid, analytically fine-grained discussion of a wide variety of problems. . . extremely useful as a survey of the current state of the debate." --Religious Studies Review "Merits serious consideration by physicians. Steinbock's interests-based approach treats all questions as open -- another and most welcome breath of fresh air." -New England Journal of Medicine "An extremely valuable contribution to the literature. The author carefully identifies the many bioethical issues to which the status of embryos and fetuses is relevant....She thoroughly reviews the extensive medical, bioethical, and legal literature on all of these issues, offering well-developed critiques of many standard positions. She articulates and thoughtfully defends interesting positions on all of theses topics. Anyone with an interest in these issues will learn a great deal from her knowledgeable and judicious treatment of them." -- The Journal of Clinical Ethics

Author Biography

Bonnie Steinbock received her PhD in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1974. She began teaching philosophy at the College of Wooster, and moved to the University at Albany in i977. Her area of specialization is bioethics, particularly reproduction and genetics.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
The Interest Viewp. 1
Consciousness and Interestsp. 5
Is Consciousness Necessary for Having Interests?p. 7
Is Consciousness Sufficient for Having Interests?p. 12
The Interests of Nonconscious Individualsp. 15
Dead Peoplep. 15
Permanently Unconscious Peoplep. 18
Infants with Anencephalyp. 23
Future Peoplep. 31
The Parfit Problem and the Farther Futurep. 32
Potential People: Embryos and Fetusesp. 34
Abortionp. 36
The Moral Standing of the Fetusp. 42
The Conservative Positionp. 42
Fetal Sentiencep. 46
Implantationp. 50
The Person Viewp. 52
The Right to Lifep. 55
The Argument From Potentialp. 59
The Logical Problemp. 59
Contraception and the Moral Standing of Gametesp. 60
The Future-Like-Ours Accountp. 65
Identityp. 71
The Embodied Mind Accountp. 71
The Biological Viewp. 74
The Interest View and the Time-Relative Interests Accountp. 76
Sentient Fetusesp. 80
Possible Peoplep. 82
The Nonidentity Problemp. 83
The Argument From Bodily Self-Determinationp. 92
Thomson's Defense of Abortionp. 92
Roe v. Wadep. 96
The Moral and Legal Significance of Viabilityp. 99
Late Abortionsp. 101
Partial-Birth Abortionp. 104
Beyond Abortion: The Fetus in Tort and Criminal Lawp. 108
Recovery for Prenatal Injury in Tortsp. 109
Against Third Partiesp. 109
The Irrelevance of Viabilityp. 110
Preconception Tortsp. 111
Against the Motherp. 115
The Woman's Right of Privacyp. 116
Automobile Liabilityp. 119
Prenatal Wrongful Deathp. 121
Wrongful-Death Actionsp. 121
The Implications for Abortionp. 122
The Criminal Lawp. 125
Prenatal Neglectp. 126
Homicidep. 127
Wrongful Lifep. 139
Maternal-Fetal Conflictp. 155
Moral Obligations to the Not-Yet-Bornp. 156
Risks to the Fetusp. 162
Pregnant Women and the Lawp. 168
Delivering Drugs Through the Umbilical Cordp. 168
Criminal Prosecution for Child Abuse or Endangermentp. 170
Criminal Prosecution for Homicidep. 172
Jailing the Pregnant Addictp. 176
Termination of Parental Rightsp. 179
Compulsory Cesarean Sectionsp. 182
The Implications of Roe v. Wadep. 186
McFall v. Shimp and the Duty to Rescuep. 188
Less Invasive Casesp. 195
Assisted Reproductive Technologyp. 199
The Science of Assisted Reproductive Technologyp. 200
In Vitro Fertilizationp. 200
Health Risks to Womenp. 202
Health Risks to Offspringp. 203
Procreative Liberty and Its Criticsp. 205
John Robertsonp. 205
Adoption and the Right to Have Biologically Related Childrenp. 208
Core Values and Penumbral Interestsp. 211
The Interests of Children and the Nonidentity Problemp. 212
Limits to Procreative Libertyp. 215
Postmenopausal Mothersp. 215
The Risk of Transmitting Disease or Disabilityp. 218
Multiple Birthsp. 224
Dispositional Problemsp. 230
Davis v. Davisp. 230
Kass v. Kassp. 236
Gamete Donationp. 239
Sperm Donationp. 240
Egg Donationp. 244
Stem Cell Researchp. 255
The Sciencep. 259
Adult Stem Cellsp. 260
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cellsp. 262
Cloning: Reproductive Versus Therapeuticp. 264
The Moral Standing of the Human Embryop. 268
The Twinning Problemp. 269
Respect for Embryosp. 270
Kantian Respectp. 271
Moral Standing Versus Moral Valuep. 272
The Basis for Ascribing Moral Value to Human Embryosp. 275
The Discarded-Created Distinctionp. 278
Payment for Oocytesp. 282
Chimeras, Hybrids, and Cybridsp. 284
Law and Policy in the United Statesp. 291
Cloning Policyp. 297
Law and Policy in Other Countriesp. 298
United Nations Declaration on Human Cloningp. 301
Indexp. 303
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