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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 43, Issue 3, July 2017

Gina Schouten
Pages 637-665
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract20178417

Fetuses, Orphans, and a Famous Violinist
On the Ethics and Politics of Abortion

In this paper, I urge feminists to re-center fetal moral status in their theorizing about abortion. I argue that fundamental feminist normative commitments are at odds with efforts to de-emphasize fetal moral status: The feminist commitment to ensuring care for dependents supports surprising conclusions with regard to the ethics of abortion, and the feminist commitment to politicizing the personal has surprising conclusions regarding the politics of abortion. But these feminist insights also support the conclusion that, conditional on fetal moral status, care for unwanted fetuses would be a social obligation that only derivatively falls to women who are unwillingly pregnant.

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