** We’re talking about abortion in this episode, and occasionally we mention sexual abuse and violence. Nothing graphic, we promise. But some listeners may find what follows distressing. Be safe. **
We’re weighing up the arguments of the Pro Choice and Pro Life movements. Perhaps we can convince you that the case against abortion – the pro-life case – isn’t as dumb and mean as it’s often portrayed to be, and nor does it depend on religious dogma.
This episode is sponsored by Zondervan’s new book The Global Church: The First Eight Centuries by Donald Fairbairn.
- Read Judith Jarvis Johnson’s groundbreaking article about abortion, where she offered the violinist thought experiment as a way to illustrate bodily autonomy: A Defense of Abortion by Judith Jarvis Thomson, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 1, No. 1. (Autumn, 1971), pp 47-66.
- Get to know our guest, Professor Margaret Somerville.
- Read Somerville’s book that first introduced her to John, The Ethical Canary: Science, Society, and the Human Spirit
- Say hi to our guest, Dr Emma Wood.
- Here’s some more info on Professor Michael Tooley, Emma mentions as we speak with her. He wrote a very influential book called Abortion and Infanticide in the 1980s, where he argues that an entity can’t possess a right to life unless it has the capacity to desire its continued existence.
- Here’s the article called ‘Reasons why women have induced abortions: a synthesis of findings from 14 countries’, published in the journal, Contraception, in 2017.
- And here are the statistics on numbers of abortions worldwide, from the Guttmacher Institute
- Here’s some more on Professor Peter Singer’s argument in favour of abortion:
“When a woman has an abortion, the fetus is alive, and it is undoubtedly human – in the sense that it is a member of the species homo sapiens. It isn’t a dog or a chimpanzee … But mere membership of our species doesn’t settle the moral issue of whether it is wrong to end a life. As long as the abortion is carried out at less than 20 weeks of gestation – as almost all abortions are – the brain of the fetus has not developed to the point of making consciousness possible.” He goes on: “Admittedly, birth is in some ways an arbitrary place to draw the line at which killing the developing human life ceases to be permissible, and instead becomes murder … A prematurely born infant may be less developed than a late-term fetus. But the criminal law needs clear dividing lines and, in normal circumstances, birth is the best we have.”
- Here’s Don Marquis’ article that we spend a lot of time on in the second half of this episode: “Why Abortion is Immoral”, in the Journal of Philosophy vol.86, no.4 (April 1989), pages 183-202: “The claim that the primary wrong-making feature of a killing is the loss to the victim of the value of its future has obvious consequences for the ethics of abortion. The future of a standard fetus includes a set of experiences, projects, activities, and such which are identical with the futures of adult human beings and are identical with the futures of young children. Since the reason that is sufficient to explain why it is wrong to kill human beings after the time of birth is a reason that also applies to fetuses, it follows that abortion is prima facie seriously morally wrong.”
- Here’s a link to the full New York Times podcast ‘The Argument’ episode called ‘Why the Anti-Abortion Side Will Lose, Even if it Wins’ (if you don’t have a NYT subscription, just look it up on your podcast app – it was published on April 14, 2021.
- Watch Paxton Smith’s speech from her Texas high school graduation here.
- Read this article in The Economist called ‘Texas’s new proposal shows why abortion law is a mess in America’, re: the so-called Texan “heartbeat bill”.
- Here’s more on the Mississippi case that will come before the Supreme Court and challenge Roe v Wade, from the New York Times.
- Producer Kaley found this article really interesting while researching this episode: The epic political battle over the legacy of the suffragettes, in The Atlantic which explores why both sides of the abortion debate see themselves as inheritors of the early women’s movement.
- Read the paper by economists Janet L Yellen and George Akerlof called ‘An analysis of out-of-wedlock childbearing in the United States’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 1996, which carried this quote (among lots of other interesting insights): “By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.”