As medical technology has advanced, so too have our attitudes towards the level of control we can or should expect to have over our procreative capacities. This creates a multidimensional problem for the law and family planning services in terms of access to services – whether to avoid conception or terminate a pregnancy – and the negligent provision of these services.
These developments go to the heart of our perception of autonomy. Unsurprisingly, these matters also raise a moral dilemma for the law. Distinctively, discourse in this area is dominated by assertions of subjective moral value; in relation to life, to personal choice and to notions of the archetypal family. Against this, I stress that a model of objective morality can answer these challenging questions and resolve the inherent problems of legal regulation. Therefore, I argue that notions of autonomy must be based on a rational, action-based understanding of what it means to be a ‘moral agent’. I claim that from this we might support a legal standard, based on objective rational morality, which can frame our constitutional norms and our conception of justice in these contentious areas.
This thesis claims that the current regulation of abortion is outdated and requires radical reform. It proposes a scheme that would shift the choice towards the mother (and the father), remove the unnecessarily broad disability ground and involve doctors having a role of counsel (rather than gatekeeper).
|Keywords||Autonomy, Reproduction, Law, Rights, Feminism, Bioethics, Morality, Gewirth, Kant, Family, Medical, Disability|