What Is the Conservative Argument Against Abortion?
Those who oppose abortion focus on the "right to life" of the fetus. But there is a third position that is largely overlooked. Essentially conservative and "pro-family," it favors abortion as the right choice to promote healthy family life under certain circumstances. This argument, which emphasizes the social function of the family over the rights of the individual, begins with the assumption that the possibility of choice matters less than the choices made. It argues that the choice to give birth to a child isn't always the right one.
Her argument is complicated and subtle, but its basic thrust can be readily summarized. A woman's right to an abortion, McDonagh argues, should be understood as a right to defend herself against the nonconsensual invasion, appropriation, and use of her physical body by an unwelcome fetus, rather than as a right to choose medical procedures free of interference by the state. We have a right to an abortion not because we have a right to be free of moralistic state legislation that interferes with our medical choices, but rather because we have a right to defend ourselves against the nonconsensual, invasive takings of our bodies, and we have a right to so defend ourselves even if it requires the use of deadly force against a human life (Linda C. McClain, 1992).
And if the extreme conservative position is counter-intuitive and/or inconsistent, and the moderate conservative position is not consistent, then I leave it for the reader to consider: Where does that leave us?
Linda C. McClain, "Atomistic Man" Revisited: Liberalism, Connection, and Feminist Jurisprudence, 65 S. CAL. L. REv. 1171 (1992);
McDONAGH, supra note 1, at 138-42; McDonagh, supra note 3, at 27-40