Reproducing Persons: Issues in Feminist Bioethics

Cornell University Press (1996)
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Abstract

Controversies about abortion and women's reproductive technologies often seem to reflect personal experience, religious commitment, or emotional response. Laura M. Purdy believes, however, that coherent ethical principles are implicit in these controversies and that feminist bioethics can help clarify the conflicts of interest which often figure in human reproduction. As she defines the underlying issues, Purdy emphasizes the importance of taking women's interests fully into account. Reproducing Persons first explores the rights and duties connected with conception and pregnancy. Purdy asks whether conceiving a child or taking a pregnancy to term can ever be morally wrong. She challenges the thinking of those who feel the prospect of disability or serious genetic disease should not constrain conception or justify abortion. The essays next look at abortion from a variety of angles. One contends that killing fetuses is not murder; others emphasize the moral importance of access to abortion. Purdy considers the conflicting interests of women and men regarding abortion, and argues against requiring a husband's consent. The book concludes with a consideration of new reproductive technologies and arrangements, including the controversial issue of surrogacy, or contract pregnancy. Throughout, Purdy combines traditional utilitarianism with some of the most powerful insights of contemporary feminist ethics. Her provocative essays create guidelines for approaching new topics and inspire fresh thinking about old ones.

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Laura Purdy
Wells College

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