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For eighteen years, a majority of the Supreme Court has upheld abortion rights without deciding whether or when a fetus may be regarded as an independent person. Today, another set of Justices would deny those rights on the ground that the fetus's status is an issue for state legislators to resolve. These mirror-image strategies share a common aim: Each allows the Court to evade the single question that, in every discourse but the judicial one, is by now synonymous with the abortion debate itself–the question of when human life begins.

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