Pro-Life, Pro-Choice
119 pages

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119 pages

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In this provocative and accessible book, the author defends a pro-choice perspective but also takes seriously pro-life concerns about the moral value of the human fetus, questioning whether a fetus is nothing more than "mere tissue." She examines the legal status of the fetus in the recent Personhood Amendments in state legislatures and in Supreme Court decisions and asks whether Roe v. Wade should have focused on the viability of the fetus or on the bodily integrity of the woman.

Manninen approaches the abortion controversy through a variety of perspectives and ethical frameworks. She addresses the social circumstances that influence many women's decision to abort and considers whether we believe that there are good and bad reasons to abort. Manninen also looks at the call for post-abortion fetal grieving rituals for women who desire them and the attempt to make room in the pro-choice position for the views of prospective fathers.

The author spells out how the two sides demonize each other and proposes ways to find degrees of convergence between the seemingly intractable positions.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 juillet 2014
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780826519924
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1000€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


© 2014 by Vanderbilt University Press
Nashville, Tennessee 37235
All rights reserved
First printing 2014
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file
LC control number 2013034847
LC classification number HQ767.5.U5M34 2014
Dewey class number 179.7'60973–dc23
ISBN 978-0-8265-1990-0 (cloth)
ISBN 978-0-8265-1991-7 (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-8265-1992-4 (ebook)
For my daughters, Michelle and Julia, who have given me new eyes with which to view and interpret the world .
Introduction and Background
1. Why Roe v. Wade ’s Argument Fails
2. Responsibility and Other Worries
3. Of Women and Fetuses: Battling the False Dichotomy
4. Pro-Choice, Not Pro-Abortion: Rethinking the Pro-Choice Strategy
5. A Pro-Choice Moral Framework
6. Respecting Fetal Life and Pregnant Women: Building upon Shared Values
7. The Forgotten Father: Men and Abortion
The production of this book would not have been possible had it not been for the combined efforts of so many people. I would like to first thank Michael Ames, my editor, for his indispensable comments, remarkable patience and good will, and dedication to seeing the book come to fruition, as well as Joell Smith-Borne, Meg Wallace, Dariel Mayer, and Silvia Benvenuto, who were instrumental in its production. I also owe much gratitude to Jackie Gately, who guided me through earlier incarnations of the manuscript and helped me edit it into its final form. Along the way I have enjoyed conversations with many colleagues who have influenced this writing: Nina Anton, Sasha Billbe, Andrew Brei, Monica Casper, Shari Collins, Ryan Ehrfurth, Bonnie Jean Kurle, Shannon Lank, Heather Libby, Kurt Liebegott, Sheila Lintott, Jack Mulder, Melissa Manchester Mulder, Nathan Nobis, Kate Padgett Walsh, Michael Paradiso-Michau, Leticia Sanchez, Maureen Sander-Staudt, Allan Sawyer, Kevin Sharpe, Marlene Tromp, Shalon Amber van Tine, and Eric Thomas Weber. My apologies to anyone I may have inadvertently left out.
As they often do, many of my teachers have also played an indispensable role. Martin Curd, William McBride, Patrick Kain, and Mark Bernstein all helped to sow the seeds that ultimately led here. Carmela McIntire and Lisa Blansett, thank you for keeping my love of writing and literature alive during my philosophical studies. And finally, thank you to Paul Draper who was my first and only bioethics teacher—and one of the best teachers I had throughout my entire college experience. Any suc cess I ultimately achieve has its roots in your guidance, patience, and mentoring during my youth and in subsequent years.
I would also like to thank the administration at Arizona State University’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies for their continued financial and emotional support. I am also very grateful to the Center for Critical Inquiry and Cultural Studies at Arizona State University for financially supporting the costs of producing this manuscript via their book subvention award.
Then there are my students, who keep my mind fresh and my heart fulfilled. Their questions and challenges over the years have helped shape all of my research in some way. They have taught me as much as I have taught them.
I would like to thank my family and friends, who have supported all of my academic endeavors and have kept me grounded, and especially my husband, Tuomas, whose support, friendship, and companionship has been invaluable throughout my education and career. And finally there are my children, Michelle and Julia, who were always there waiting for me when I got home after a long day of writing with hugs, kisses, and the energy, magic, imagination, and love that only comes with childhood.
My personal views about abortion have changed throughout the years. As a teenager, being the product of a Catholic home, I was very “prolife.” I believed that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception and that its right to life trumps the bodily rights of women. While I conceded (with hesitation) that abortions are permissible in cases when the mother’s life is threatened, I did not make any allowances for fetuses created through rape or incest.
In college I took classes in applied ethics and bioethics, and was introduced in each class to Judith Jarvis Thomson’s influential article “A Defense of Abortion,” in which she argues that even if the fetus is considered a person with all the moral rights thereof, this does not mean a woman can be compelled to gestate it. This is because no person’s right to life imposes an obligation upon others to make large bodily sacrifices in order to respect that right. After much inner turmoil, Thomson’s argument convinced me, and I spent the remainder of my college and graduate school career being very ardently “prochoice.” In my dissertation, I argued that embryos and fetuses possessed no moral standing until at least midgestation because it is only then that they acquire the necessary neural apparatus for conscious awareness, and that early- to midpregnancy abortions are no different from using contraception because both methods prevent the existence of a human person.
On Saturday, May 10, 2008—the day before Mother’s Day—I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. Twelve weeks later we had our first ultrasound, and I was in awe of how much was happening inside my body even though I could not feel it. As the technician talked to my husband and me and assured us that the pregnancy was progressing well, I watched my little fetus somersault around in my belly. I couldn’t believe she could do so much at such a young age. During the drive home I stared at my first ultrasound picture and heard a voice in my head that was utterly foreign to me given the beliefs I had held for the previous ten years: I could never bring myself to abort this fetus, and abortion, I found myself thinking, is certainly not akin to contraception.
The months that followed continually reaffirmed my newfound respect for fetal life; every kick, every movement, every reaction to her father’s voice incited a sense of awe. I realized that regardless of the myriad philosophical debates concerning fetal personhood, once I was pregnant very little of it mattered. Gestating my daughter did something for me that no amount of studying was able to do: it forced me to look at pregnancy, birthing, and abortion as real issues in the lives of real people, including both women and fetuses.
I was torn, so in my mind I recounted all the reasons I identified as prochoice. I still believe that abortion choice is an essential aspect of women’s reproductive freedom. In order for women to get ahead in terms of their education and careers they have to be free to obtain an abortion if they ever become pregnant before they are ready to become mothers. Raped women should not be forced to gestate a fetus that is a permanent reminder of the violence and violation they endured. Motherhood is such an identity-altering role that it must be one that women choose for themselves. Children should be born into a home where they are wanted and cared for, and to parents who are secure enough in their lives to provide for them materially and emotionally. The consequences of criminalizing abortion will not be an explosion of healthy babies being born to happy mothers, but rather the death of fetuses and women at the hands of illegal abortion providers—indeed, almost half of abortions around the world take place in countries with restrictive abortion laws. Finally, Thomson’s argument still rings true to me: I cannot endorse any policy that compels one subset of the population to give their bodies over in a physically demanding, intimate, and potentially dangerous way in order to sustain the lives of another subset of the population.
Nevertheless, I could no longer justify my position by dehumanizing fetuses, by writing them off as mere masses of cells and tissue that have no value. I forced myself to look at abortion pictures and videos because I could not continue to support something without facing its ugliest and most graphic side. It is hard to deny that even a late-first-trimester abortion destroys something that is human and looks like a very small and underdeveloped baby. And although I could not bring myself to believe that a human zygote or early embryo is equivalent in moral status and rights to a born child or to the woman who is gestating it, the line that demarcates when the fetus becomes an entity worthy of moral status is not at all obvious. There has to be a way, I thought, that these views can live in harmony. It must be possible to be prochoice and still believe wholeheartedly that fetal life is valuable.
I decided to take my struggles and ambivalence into my academic world, and the response, initially, was unfavorable. Although I remained a supporter of abortion choice, I expressed to several of my colleagues and peers my concern about the prevalence of abortion and the wanton attitude many (though certainly not all) abortion rights supporters take in regard to fetal life. Comments such as these have often attracted criticism. The most scathing instance of this was at a conference when I delivered a short essay suggesting that prochoice advocates should acknowledge that fetal life has va

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