A right to life for the unborn? The current debate on abortion in germany and Norbert Hoerster's legal-philosophical justification for the right to life

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 25 (2):220 – 239 (2000)
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Abstract

Rights to life for unborn humans and to abortion with impunity are incompatible. This observation by the German legal philosopher Norbert Hoerster contains a fundamental criticism of the state regulation on abortion in Germany. The regulation regards abortion as unlawful, but declines to prosecute if the abortion is conducted within the first three months of pregnancy and the pregnant woman received counseling at least three days prior to terminating the pregnancy. In contrast to the German legislature, Hoerster is in favor of setting the beginning of a right to life at birth. With this suggestion and the consequent demand for a general legalization of abortion, Hoerster himself has become the target of harsh criticism. The following article analyzes Hoerster's position and that of his opponents against the background of the current abortion debate in Germany. The consequences for dealing with the handicaps of Hoerster's suggested regulations will also be addressed.

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