Medicine an Surgery notes

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Bioethics ISSN 0269-9702Volume 11 Number 2 1997DiscussionABORTION, VALUE AND THESANCTITY OF LIFECHRISTOPHER BELSHAWABSTRACTIn Life's Dominion Dworkin argues that the debate about abortion is habituallymisconstrued. Substantial areas of agreement are overlooked, while areas ofdisagreement are, mistakenly, seen as central. If we uncover a truer picture, thenhope of a certain accord may no longer seem vain. I dispute many of these claims.Dworkin argues that both sides in the debate are united in believing that life issacred, or intrinsically valuable. I disagree. I maintain that only in a veryattenuated sense of intrinsic value will this be agreed upon. I consider how anaccount of such value might be further fleshed out, but suggest, if this is done onany plausible lines, agreement will fall away. Dworkin argues, also, that the issueof personhood, does not, contrary to widespread belief, keep the parties apart.Again I disagree. We need to distinguish the question of whether there is in factdispute over this issue from that of whether there is, in truth, good reason fordispute. And I argue that, rightly or wrongly, the issue of personhood remainscentral. Dworkin suggests that the purported proximity between the two sidesoffers some hope of an eventual reconciliation. At least, they will agree to differ,accepting that in this area freedom of choice is paramount. I am sceptical. Eventhis measure of reconciliation depends upon conservatives giving up positi

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