On March 20th, Visiting Professor Tshaka Randall and his mother, University of Dayton School of Law Professor Vernellia R. Randall, presented their paper entitled "Built-In Obsolescence: The Coming End of the Abortion Debate” to faculty and staff. Professor Vernellia R. Randall is the Director of the University of Dayton Academic Excellence Program, a recipient of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health’s Chairman’s Award and was named one of the “Top 10 Most Influential African-Americans” on the 2001 Black Equal Opportunity Employment Journal List.
The talk focused on how the abortion debate will be reframed in the future. In the past, the laws regarding abortion have treated it as one decision, protected under Roe v. Wade as part of a woman’s right to privacy. The central thesis of "Built-In Obsolescence: The Coming End of the Abortion Debate”, however, is that a woman’s abortion decision is really a two step process; first she must choose to terminate the pregnancy, and second, she must then choose to abort the fetus. In the past, making the decision to terminate the pregnancy also meant necessarily aborting the fetus, but if science makes it possible to terminate a pregnancy without aborting the fetus - either by placing it in an artificial womb or surrogate - then the conversation on abortion will have to change.
If the previous prevailing legal, political, and ethical arguments about abortion can no longer be applied because scientific understanding has shifted, then a new framework for the debate needs to be created. With the current debate already built on a foundation destined to crumble, it is crucial to begin the debate anew.