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Perspective
Fetal Sentience and Women's Rights Maternal health should be paramount.

A growing number of states have banned abortion after twenty weeks on the grounds that the fetus at that stage experiences pain. The choice between sentience and viability to justify the prohibition of late abortions is not the real issue, however. What really matters—and what pro-choice advocates should stress—is that late abortions are not denied to women who need them to preserve their own lives or health. Roe v. Wade makes this clear, and subsequent cases have affirmed it. That is what is so upsetting about the story of Danielle Deaver.

A growing number of states have banned abortion after twenty weeks on the grounds that the fetus at that stage experiences pain. The choice between sentience and viability to justify the prohibition of late abortions is not the real issue, however. What really matters—and what pro-choice advocates should stress—is that late abortions are not denied to women who need them to preserve their own lives or health. Roe v. Wade makes this clear, and subsequent cases have affirmed it. That is what is so upsetting about the story of Danielle Deaver.

Bonnie Steinbock, "Fetal Sentience and Women's Rights," Hastings Center Report 41, no. 6 (2011): inside back cover.