Volume 86, Issue 4, Fall 2012
Kody W. Cooper
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.