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Schouten, Gina. Fetuses, Orphans, and a Famous Violinist: On the Ethics and Politics of Abortion
2017, Social Theory and Practice 43 (3): 637-665
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Added by: Sara Peppe

In this paper, I urge feminists to re-center fetal moral status in their theorizing about abortion. I argue that fundamental feminist normative commitments are at odds with efforts to de-emphasize fetal moral status: The feminist commitment to ensuring care for dependents supports surprising conclusions with regard to the ethics of abortion, and the feminist commitment to politicizing the personal has surprising conclusions regarding the politics of abortion. But these feminist insights also support the conclusion that, conditional on fetal moral status, care for unwanted fetuses would be a social obligation that only derivatively falls to women who are unwillingly pregnant.

Comment: Best discussed alongside Judith Thomson's "A Defense of Abortion" and Liam Murphy's "The Demands of Beneficence." Challenges a widely accepted intuition about the ethics of abortion and can be used to illustrate the vulnerabilities of thought experiments that appeal to intuitions. Demonstrates the useful argumentative move of assuming premise P for the sake of argument (even if you don't endorse P) in order to examine the implications that follow from P.

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