Full text
Reader, Soran. Abortion, Killing, and Maternal Moral Authority
2008, Hypatia 23 (1):132-149
Added by: Deryn Mair Thomas

A threat to women is obscured when we treat “abortion-as-evacuation” as equivalent to “abortion-as-killing.” This holds only if evacuating a fetus kills it. As technology advances, the equivalence will fail. Any feminist account of abortion that relies on the equivalence leaves moral room for women to be required to give up their fetuses to others when it fails. So an account of the justification of abortion-as-killing is needed that does not depend on the equivalence.

Comment: This text explores a common justification for the permissability of abortion, which the author describes as an equivalence between "abortion-as-killing" and "abortion-as-evacuation". The author also examines a series of dilemmas which arise from traditional pro-choice discussions of abortion (at least at the time of writing), such the two-horned dilemma which appears to trap pro-choice advocates in only two camps: one in which the fetus is morally signficant (and therefore can only be aborted, but not killed), and another in which the fetus is morally negligible (in which case, it does not matter). Reader challenges this dichotomy and aims to show that fetal killing can be justified without claiming that fetuses are negligible by focusing on relationship, in general, and motherhood, in particular. Therefore, the text would be most useful as a primary or supplemental reading in an intermediate or advanced course studying contemporary analytic debates on abortion or feminist thought and critical gender studies.

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