Volume 33, Issue 2, Fall 2019
Legal But Rare
Toward a Transformative Critical Theory of Abortion and Unwanted Pregnancy
This paper argues that it is not incoherent to think that abortion should be “legal but rare.” The argument draws upon virtue ethics, feminism, critical theory, and the theory of biopolitics to argue that the idea that abortion should be legal but rare is best understood as aiming at the elimination of unwanted pregnancies. Some pro-choice defenders of abortion rights worry that the “legal but rare” idea stigmatizes women who choose abortion. But when this idea is unpacked using the tools of intersectional analysis, biopolitical theory, and virtue ethics it can be understood as pointing toward a transformation of social reality that empowers women.