Jordan Pascoe
Manhattan College
In this essay, I draw on Kant’s legal philosophy in order to defend the right to voluntary motherhood by way of abortion at any stage of pregnancy as an essential feature of women’s basic rights. By developing the distinction between innate and acquired right in Kant’s legal philosophy, I argue that the viability standard in US law (as established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey) misunderstands the nature of embodied right. Our body is the site of innate right; it is the means through which we can set and pursue ends in the world. The law, therefore, cannot adjudicate the relationship between the will and the body: it cannot require us to allow our bodies to be used against our will. By comparing unwanted pregnancy to sexual assault, I problematize the notion that consent to pregnancy, like consent to sex, can ever be conclusive. I examine Kant’s own account of unwanted pregnancy, in which he describes mother and child finding themselves “in a state of nature” in order to rethink the status of the fetus in law, and I argue that we should understand the fetus’s right to life as provisional, rather than as enforceable by law.
Keywords immanuel kant, abortion, feminist philosophy, innate right
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Kant-Bibliographie 2019.Margit Ruffing - 2021 - Kant Studien 112 (4):623-660.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Animality and Agency: A Kantian Approach to Abortion.Lara Denis - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (1):117-137.
Animality and Agency: A Kantian Approach to Abortion.Lara Denis - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (1):117-37.
Abortion and Kant’s Formula of Universal Law.Lara Denis - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (4):547-579.
Abortion.Margaret Olivia Little - 2008 - In R. G. Frey & Christopher Wellman (eds.), A companion to applied ethics. Malden: Wiley. pp. 313-325.
Abortion, Society, and the Law. Edited by David F. Walbert & J. Douglas Butler.David F. Walbert - 1973 - Cleveland [Ohio]Press of Case Western Reserve University.


Added to PP index

Total views
184 ( #63,610 of 2,506,051 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
107 ( #6,752 of 2,506,051 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes