Crises, Tidings, & Revelations: Abortion Rights


December 1, 1994

If every woman enjoys an unrestricted right to abort, then every aborted child is rightfully aborted. It must also be admitted that every child which was not aborted could have been rightfully aborted. Therefore, no child who happens to be born rather than aborted can claim any right to have been born, since every woman’s right to abort cancels any child’s right to be born. Any child that happens to be born is not born because it possesses a right to be born.

And if it has no right to be born, it can claim no right on the basis of being born. If the child has no right to be born, how can it acquire rights (inherent, or natural) by being born? Being born, it is a rightless entity. It cannot make any sense to speak of children’s rights, nor of what they call “the rights of future generations.”

Every child born is and remains at the disposal of the woman who did not abort it. It is her “creature.” If the child is to have any rights, they must be positive rights, rights ascribed to it by a legal system. There is nothing inalienable about such rights; what the legal system gives, the legal system can take away. A child with these rights is the creature of the legal system.

No reason presents itself why every woman now in the world could not abort every child conceived. That this won’t happen is not a reason why it ought not to happen. And, given the premise of an unrestricted right to abortion, no reason can be offered why it ought not to happen. On the basis of this premise there is no reason why anyone should be born rather than not born.

If every woman now living has a right to abort every child that she conceives — and this is the meaning of an unrestricted right to abortion — then it must be admitted that there can be no objection in principle to the aborting of all children by all women now alive.

The unrestricted right to abortion implies the denial that life ought to be Maintained. It is the assertion that the total cessation of human life is as worthy of choice as its continuance.

The unrestricted right to abortion implies that the connection between conception and birth is accidental. Conception is not for the sake of birth, if preference must always be given to the disposal of the product of conception prior to birth over allowing it to mature to birth.

The unrestricted right to abortion implies that the connection between sexual intercourse and conception is accidental. Sexual intercourse is not for the sake of conception, if conception is not for the sake of birth.


  • Francis Slade

    At the time this article was written, Francis Slade taught philosophy at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York.

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