The Paternalistic Argument against Abortion

Hypatia 33 (1):22-39 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


A dominant trend in the philosophical literature on abortion has been concerned with the question of whether the fetus has moral status and how such a status might or might not conflict with women's liberties. However, a new and powerful trend against abortion requires philosophical examination. We refer to this trend as the paternalistic argument. In a nutshell, this argument holds that, insofar as motherhood is a constitutive end of women's well-being, abortion harms women; thus, abortion is wrong and should be prohibited, restricted, or avoided when possible regardless of the moral status of the fetus. In this article we undertake three tasks. First, we analyze four variations of this reasoning: what we call the Kantian PA, the Aristotelian PA, the Catholic Church PA, and the Psychological PA. Second, we show how some public policies that regulate or prohibit abortion around the world are now in fact following paternalistic justifications and imposing distinctive paternalistic restrictions ; we refer to these policies as “the new abortion laws.” Finally, we argue that both the four paternalistic arguments presented and the new abortion laws are at times ill-intentioned, comprehensive in nature and thus unsuited for guiding public policy, empirically flawed, or else unjustified.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,593

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Abortion.Margaret Olivia Little - 2003 - In R. G. Frey & Christopher Heath Wellman (eds.), A Companion to Applied Ethics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 313-325.
Abortion: A Question of Respect for Persons.Cidalia Paiva - 1988 - Dissertation, York University (Canada)
Selective abortion in Brazil: The anencephaly case.Debora Diniz - 2007 - Developing World Bioethics 7 (2):64–67.
Abortion, competing entitlements, and parental responsibility.Alex Rajczi - 2009 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (4):379-395.
Welfare, Abortion, and Organ Donation: A Reply to the Restrictivist.Emily Carroll & Parker Crutchfield - 2024 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 33 (2):290-295.
Abortion.Jonathan Lewis & Søren Holm - 2017 - In Mortimer Sellers & Stephan Kirste (eds.), Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy. Springer. pp. 1-8.
Killing and Impairing Fetuses.Prabhpal Singh - 2022 - The New Bioethics 28 (2):127-138.


Added to PP

67 (#240,112)

6 months
12 (#313,206)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Moises Vaca
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
A defense of abortion.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1971 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1):47-66.
Why Deliberative Democracy?Amy Gutmann & Dennis F. Thompson - 2004 - Princeton University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.
Paternalism.Gerald Dworkin - 1972 - The Monist 56 (1):64-84.

View all 34 references / Add more references