Animality and agency: A Kantian approach to abortion

This paper situates abortion in the context of women’s duties to themselves. I argue that the fundamental Kantian requirement to respect oneself as a rational being, combined with Kanrs view of our animal nature, form the basis for a view of pregnancy and abortion that focuses on women’s agency and characters without diminishing the importance of their bodies and emotions. The Kantian view of abortion that emerges takes abortion to be morally problematic, but sometimes permissible, and sometimes even required.After sketching Kant’s account of duties to oneself, I discuss the challenges pregnancy poses to women’s agency. I then argue that abortion is morally problematic because it is antagonistic to an important subset of morally useful emotions that we have self-regarding duties to protect and cultivate; thus, there is a rebuttable deliberative presumption against maxims of abortion for indination-based ends. I close by considering objections.
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