Constitutional Essentials: Harnessing Public Reason to Prevent Government Intrusion on Abortion Rights

Zimmerman, Anne Houck

The scope of this paper is two-fold: first, it examines arguments surrounding the possibility that an early embryo can have rights; second, it analyzes the rationales for limiting government interference as well as different appeals to public reason. Personhood should be reflective of the deep-rooted idea that multi-cultural democratic society must employ public reason when setting up its framework including its membership privileges. Rather than at the level of majority views or tie-breaking presumptions, practical approaches to personhood for governmental purposes must take place at the framework level. To support liberty two challenges must be addressed: first, convincing the public to continue limiting the role of government in personal, private matters; second, redirecting the conversation to the framework level governing societal membership using public reason.


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May 19, 2020


Keywords: moral status, abortion, Dworkin, rights, reason, public reason, privacy