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2021 U. Ill. L. Rev. 865 (2021)
Abortion and the Law of Innocence

handle is hein.journals/unilllr2021 and id is 883 raw text is: ABORTION AND THE LAW OF
INNOCENCE
Mary Ziegler*
As states pass increasingly strict abortion laws in a bid to reverse Roe
v. Wade, abortion opponents have suddenly abandoned exceptions for
cases of rape and incest. Developing the first legal history of rape and in-
cest exceptions, this Article argues that these exceptions open a window
into issues of guilt and innocence that define the constitutional jurispru-
dence of abortion.
In recognizing a right to abortion, the Court portrayed women as vic-
tims-of the physical burdens of pregnancy and societal forces governing
parenthood. But as the history of the rape and incest debate shows, the
rhetoric of guilt and innocence is central to the case to overturn Roe. Seek-
ing to dismantle abortion rights, pro-life forces have proposed a hierarchy
of innocence. This hierarchy describes guilt as inherently relative, not an
absolute but a matter of degrees and comparison. In this hierarchy, fetal
life is supremely innocent, regardless of the surrounding circumstances
both because an unborn child lacks agency (and therefore responsibility for
any decision) and because that child has not yet made any choices, good or
bad, for which to be held accountable.
As the history of the rape and incest exception reveals, ideas of guilt
and innocence have already destabilized protection for abortion. To shore
up constitutional protection, supporters of abortion rights have to portray
women in a different light-as trustworthy and autonomous rather than vul-
nerable to forces beyond their control.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I.   INTRODUCTION   ....................................................................................... 866
H.   FROM RAPE AND INCEST TO ROE V. WADE.............................................. 869
A.   The Invention  of  the Exception....................................................... 870
B. The Constitutional Rhetoric of Innocence ...................................... 876
III. FROM THE HYDE AMENDMENT TO CASEY............................................... 881
A.   The  Rise  of  Funding  Bans............................................................... 882
B. The Rape and Incest Consensus ..................................................... 890
* Mary Ziegler is the Stearns Weaver Miller Professor of Law at Florida State University College of
Law. She would like to thank David Cohen, Michele Goodwin, Jennifer Hendricks, Jessie Hill, Maya Manian,
Seema Mohapatra, and Laura Weinrib for agreeing to share their thoughts on this piece.

865

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