January 21, 2007

To split yourself into two / is just the most radical thing you can do

Tomorrow is the thirty-fourth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and that means it's Blog for choice day. This year's theme is the rather dull `Why I am pro-choice'. Dull because my reasons are themselves rather dull and dryly philosophical -- (1) there are no good reasons to think a foetus has a right to life (ie, is a person), and (2) even if it did have such a right to life, there is no reason to think that right supersedes a woman's right to bodily autonomy and integrity.

This is, essentially, the position taken in Judith Jarvis Thomson's famous essay `A defense of abortion'. I don't agree with Jarvis Thomson entirely, though, because she seems to assert that we never have any obligations to aid others. By contrast, I think there's intuitive appeal to Peter Singer's principle that we have obligations to make sacrifices to aid others when the sacrifice is not of `comparable moral significance' (that's a paraphrase, not a direct quotation). Cashing out that phrase is tough, but I think that rights of bodily autonomy and integrity are of comparable moral significance with the right to life.

Let me open the comments thread to you all: Why are you pro-choice?

NB I'd like to reserve substantive comments in this thread for pro-choicers only. If you're opposed to abortion and would like to discuss my reasons or anyone else's, you're welcome to email me or put a link to a post on your own blog in the comments below.

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