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For the past 50 years abortion rights have been a focus of ethical, legal, political and religious controversy. Traditional opposition to the procedure viewed it simply as unjustified homicide. This view came under critical scrutiny in the 1960s as philosophers and legal scholars marshaled arguments to show that this conventional assessment was mistaken. This chapter recounts highlights of the controversy, citing the contributions of applied ethicists, courts and legislatures. The final section considers ways in which the still-controversial status of abortion complicates the ethical and legal context when a pre-natal diagnosis of critical congenital heart defect requires a decision on continuation or termination of the pregnancy.
KeywordsAbortion Pregnancy termination Roe vs. Wade Critical congenital heart disease Maternal-fetal conflict Informed consent Comfort care Early and late term abortion Personhood
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