Essay Analysis: Abortion, Intimacy, and the Duty to Gestate by Margaret Olivia Little

Decent Essays

In her essay “Abortion, Intimacy, and the Duty to Gestate,” Margaret Olivia Little examines whether it should be permissible for the state to force the intimacy of gestation on a woman against her consent. Little concludes that “mandating gestation against a woman’s consent is itself a harm - a liberty harm” (p. 303). She reaches this conclusion after examining the deficiencies in the current methods used to examine and evaluate the issues of abortion. Their focus on the definition of a “person” and the point in time when the fetus becomes a distinct person entitled to the benefits and protections of the law fails to capture “the subtleties and ambivalences that suffuse the issue” (p. 295). Public debate on the right to life and the right …show more content…

298). This is an important point noted by Little as it exemplifies how women’s personal boundaries are restricted as a result of gestation. All of these points strongly support the fact that Little believes that it isn’t permissible for anyone to force the intimacy of gestation on any woman against her consent, because she too has a right to life, therefore the right to make her own decisions. If a woman believes that she is not fit to be a mother, she cannot financially support a child or that she simply does not want a child, then who is to say she must continue gestation— she cannot be pressured to change her mind.

Morality and Duties: There are many reasons women choose to seek an abortion but “one of the most common reasons is that they do not have room in their life just then to be a mother, [and] they know if they continue the pregnancy they will not be able to give it up” (p. 312). Little strongly believes that this is a “perfectly sensible, and often wise,” decision (p. 312). Before morally judging a woman based on her decision, one must learn to “appreciate the different moral contours involved with entering, existing in and exiting a relationship” (p. 312). A woman’s morals cannot be judged given she “may have good reason to decline,” gestation — for example a woman can argue that her reason is “more [of] a refusal to create than a decision to destroy” (p. 30). It must be recognized that “ [being] asked

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