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Legal Goals and Legal Constraints

As we know, then, adjustments always have to be made when translating moral conclusions into legal norms. But scepticism about the legal implications of my analysis in Part II might be of an even more thoroughgoing nature. One might wonder, for example, what the implications are of believing that the fetus is owed some moral respect on account of its growing human embodiment, even though it does not instantiate any of the core features of a person. Or of the fact that there is no non-arbitrarily distinguishable ‘moment’ at which it is reasonable to believe a fully rights-holding entity arrives on the scene. One possible concern is that these contentions are too philosophically inert to yield clear conclusions about when abortion is and is not acceptable, such that could provide even the starting point for a legal framework. In most of what remains here, I want to suggest just a few possible ways that my analysis in both Parts I and II might inform the legal regulation of abortion, bearing in mind that the usual gaps between morally ideal behaviour and justified legal regulation must always be considered.

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