What is “unborn human life” and what kind of court cases, not only in the US but abroad, illuminate the matter from the standpoint of the many fields in which the term is employed: law, bioethics, and philosophy among others?
These questions are addressed by a distinguished group of scholars in the 2019 book, Unborn Human Life and Fundamental Rights: Leading Constitutional Cases Under Scrutiny
(Peter Lang, 2019)
In this fascinating collection of case studies from countries such as Argentina, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Italy, Poland and Spain as well as the United States we learn that abortion is not always the catalyst for landmark constitutional cases in many lands. So are such concerns as the moral questions raised by in vitro fertilization and the morning-after pill.
Not only does the book provide a look into the workings and worldviews of various constitutional courts and legal systems in many countries, it also shows how activists on both sides of the issue of unborn human life (and there are those who take issue with the term itself) draw on or oppose rulings and/or proclamations over the past decades of such international legal bodies as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the European Court on Human Rights to make their cases. Anyone interested in real-world, high-profile applications of international law generally and human rights laws specifically should read this book.
Those interested in the many legal and philosophical arguments about when life begins and who is deemed worthy of the dignity of life and endowed with rights should read this book. Anyone interested in reproductive health law globally should, too.
The book includes a powerful concluding essay by a giant of natural law thinking, John Finnis, that addresses the many moral and jurisprudential issues discussed by the contributors to this important book.
In this interview, one of the editors of the book, William L. Saunders
, will discuss how this panoply of judges and legislators wrestled with thorny issues that ranged from embryology and the latest in reproductive technology and the ethical and practical issues surrounding it (such as what is to be done with the surplus embryos now in a cruel limbo in labs the world over) to what Finnis refers to as “fundamental civility and humanity.”
Give a listen.
Hope J. Leman is a grants researcher.