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Authors

Lynn Smith

Abstract

Reproduction of the species has traditionally been seen as women's primary function, to be exercised for the benefit of men or for society as a whole, as defined by men. The legal treatment of women with respect to reproductive issues has both reflected and perpetuated that traditional view. One approach that challenges the hegemony of the traditional view is based on an individual woman's "right to choose," whether the choice relates to termination of pregnancy or to medical treatment and personal habits during pregnancy. This approach is founded upon considerations of liberty and privacy. Another approach is based on women's right to equality, founded on considerations of the economic, political, social and overarching cultural contexts in which women become pregnant, are pregnant, require termination of pregnancies, carry pregnancies to term, give birth and raise children. This approach may challenge the hegemony of the traditional view in more fundamental ways than does the liberty approach, and therefore may be more effective. For the same reason, it may be more difficult to argue successfully in a society which places strong emphasis on individual liberty and less emphasis on social equality.

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