Responding to Some Pro-Abort Feminist Bloggers

It occurred to me that RC has not had a blogpost about abortion, which is weird, because anti-abortion philosophy has been a conservative thing for many years. So to remedy this, I did a casual search over the web, looking to see what pro-abort feminists have been saying about abortion. I’m not impressed with the quality of their posts. Check it out.

Tracie Morrissey from Jezebel writes:

But who the fuck are you to actively work at taking away other women’s right to make their own personal decisions about their uteruses?


Well, Trace, there are a few problems with this question. Firstly, you framed the dispute unfairly. You depicted the matter of contention to be the desire of some people to control personal decisions about uteruses. But that’s uncharitable. You can’t erase the human fetus from the characterization of the dispute, because he is central to the pro-life concern. Secondly, you can’t presume that such a right exists in the first place, because, as I see it, there are no rights for that which is against natural law (an unjust law is no law at all). Of course, I do not mean to presume natural right theory, but it is part of that which is at stake here. We need to discuss these issues by revealing and defending our presumptions–we can’t frame the issue with our presumptions.

Let’s move on. Over at Slate, Christina Cauterucci writes:

The anti-choice worldview is explicitly anti-woman, because it denies women agency and autonomy. Mainstream feminism is perfectly happy to embrace women who would never themselves seek abortion care. But women and men who want to impose their views on others through legal restrictions on women’s bodies cannot be feminists, because they want to make a woman’s decisions for her.

Cauterucci, eh? Another Catholic gone astray. Sad.

Anyways, here she speaks of the anti-choice worldview, proclaiming it to be “anti-woman” because it denies women agency and autonomy. But this statement simply begs important questions about autonomy and agency, presuming that they require control over their bodies even if such control requires the direct and intentional termination of a fetus’ life. That is an idea that she needs to defend, not presume.

She also, just like the first pro-abort feminist, does not consider value of the autonomy and agency of the fetus. In saying this, I don’t mean to suggest that the fetus is able to exercise his autonomy and agency. My point is that, as I see it, he is still the sort of being who has autonomy and agency, just as he is the sort of being who is linguistic and rational. It is just that, in his state of development, he cannot yet exercise those faculities. In argument, pro-abort feminists need to consider these ideas, not just presume their contraries.

Aside from that, I also say that agency and autonomy is married to responsibility. If a woman chooses to have sex and then gets pregnant, then that pregnancy is a consequence of her choice. Her free choice resulted in the dependency of another human being; and so, as I see it, anti-abortion laws would just ensure that she takes responsibility for the life and dependency she created. That is not to deny her agency and autonomy, but to affirm it.

Futhermore, no one would be making choices for her. Instead, the anti-abortion law would only ensure that she is held responsible for the choice she made and the life she created. That’s it.

But let’s backtrack a bit – let’s return to that girl who chooses to have sex. Suppose she uses contraception and still gets pregnant. From this, you might say that her pregnancy was a consequence of her choice to have sex, but she still tried her best to avoid it through contraception. Thus, the fetus is not really her responsibility, you might say. What then?

Well, aside from my usual Catholic reservations about contraception (it’s a really bad thing to do), it is not like she went out to play BINGO and somehow caught a pregnancy. They’re not contagious. She participated in an act which has procreation as its natural end. Sex is objectively for procreation, no matter how we choose to use it for our own ends (likewise eating is objectively for nutrition even if we eat for pleasure). Thus, as I see it, she is still responsible for her pregnancy, that dependency and that life, because she wilfully participated in an act that has procreation as its objective end. And of course, I am herein assuming a teleological conception of sex, which is fine by me. If it is doubted, we can debate it.

In any case, on this same issue, Jamie Bernstein from Skepchick writes this:

Being forced to carry a baby to term and then birth that baby and raise that baby for the rest of your life is merely punishment for daring to have sex without the express purpose of procreation.

No, Jamie, this is not about punishment. The point is not that women do anything wrong. That’s silly. In fact, that’s retarded. Seriously. Instead, this is about personal responsibility. If your free action results in the dependency and life of another human being, then you are responsible for his well-being. This is not punishing you: You’re not punished if you are held to your responsibilites. Instead, this is what it looks like to be treated as an adult. How typical is it to see a lefty-liberal type confuse the two!

But who knows – maybe I’m wrong about this. It’s possible. But even if I am, I think my still point is clear that these feminists need to think harder and argue deeper than what is found in their blogposts. Let’s talk about autonomy and agency, natural law, God, violin players, and personhood.  We need to debate this stuff.


  1. I have concluded that talking with die hard abortionist is pointless. In previous discussions I have been asked “this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard…why should dead bodies have more respect than living females?”. Trying to explain that the ‘fetus’ is not dead, but alive and well was laughed at. I have been told “non-existing things can’t have rights” as if the baby in the womb doesn’t exist (there may be a personhood argument in there, but the concept of person was never raised). Another favorite response is “so you think masturbation is mass murder?”. I hope the philosophy students you interact with are less dogmatic and dumb.

  2. I think this website proves nicely the point that one ought not expect to find the best arguments for a position on a blog.

    • You’re welcome to debate with the authors in the comment section. If you have an issue with what I said, you’re also free to engage me. Or you can just continue with your snark.

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