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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 86, Issue 4, Fall 2012

Kody W. Cooper
Pages 557-581

The Prolife Leviathan
The Hobbesian Case Against Abortion

Thomas Hobbes’s innovative anthropology and novel doctrines of natural right, natural law, and positive law have been taken to inaugurate a tradition that grows into modern United States abortion jurisprudence. In this essay I argue that a careful rereading of Hobbes reveals that the characterization of Hobbes as the philosophical and jurisprudential forefather of abortion rights is false. While Hobbes never directly addressed the question of abortion, I argue that we can reconstruct his position from his philosophical texts. First, I reconstruct the Hobbesian philosophical case against abortion via a rereading of his notions of family, hominization, and natural law. Second, I apply these principles along with Hobbes’s theories of equity and sovereignty to formulate a Hobbesian jurisprudential case against the Roe-Casey order of permissive abortion law.

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