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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Publication details for Dr Samantha Halliday

Samantha Halliday (2016). Protecting Human Dignity: Reframing the Abortion Debate to Respect the Dignity of Choice and Life. Contemporary Issues in Law 13(4): 287-322.

Author(s) from Durham


This article sets out an alternative framework for viewing and regulating the unique biological state that is pregnancy, by reference to the protection of human dignity. It focusses upon the context of abortion, arguing that reproductive exceptionalism must end and that rather than focussing upon a right to elect an abortion, more emphasis is needed upon supporting the pregnant woman throughout pregnancy, upon respecting human dignity. Reframing the debate about reproductive decision-making in this manner demands that her autonomous choices are respected, but also requires that her autonomy be fostered/promoted and that she is enabled to participate in decision-making to the greatest extent possible. Respect for human dignity also requires that the woman’s choice is informed, that she takes account of the foetus in making that choice, and that the state facilitates not only the making of the choice through information, but also ensures that there is a real choice to be made.