Parthood, Personhood, and Bodily Rights

In a series of papers—”Lady Parts,” “Were You a Part of Your Mother,” and “Nine Months”—Elselijn Kingma develops and defends the parthood view of pregnancy: that human fetuses are literally a part of the gestating woman’s body.

If your mouth is slack and your eyes are squinting, yes, that was my first reaction, too.

If you have moved on from straight-up confusion to worrying about the implications for the abortion debate, that was my second reaction.

But let me invite you to move through reactions one and two and into reaction three: this claim is super interesting, plausible, and makes the case against abortion stronger.

Baby feet in persons hands

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Arguments about Pro-Life “Hypocrisy” Prove Nothing about Abortion

Masked face holding another mask, hypocrisy

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

Charges of “pro-life hypocrisy” abound on the internet. Unfortunately, they also exist in professional philosophy journals in the form of “inconsistency arguments.” These take the following form:

         P1: Were pro-life people consistent, they would X.

         P2: Pro-life people fail to X.

         C: Therefore, pro-life people are inconsistent.

Accompanying such arguments is an implicit understanding or explicit assertion that if the pro-life person does not change her beliefs or behaviors in order to be consistent, then her continued inconsistency counts as hypocrisy.