When caesarean section operations imposed by a court are justified

Journal of Medical Ethics 14 (4):206-211 (1988)
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Court-ordered caesarean sections against the explicit wishes of the pregnant woman have been criticised as violations of the woman's fundamental right to autonomy and to the inviolability of the person--particularly, so it is argued, because the fetus in utero is not yet a person. This paper examines the logic of this position and argues that once the fetus has passed a certain stage of neurological development it is a person, and that then the whole issue becomes one of balancing of rights: the right-to-life of the fetal person against the right to autonomy and inviolability of the woman; and that the fetal right usually wins



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