Two pro-abortion professors are openly urging other abortion supporters to more explicitly value life on a subjective basis.
Published last month, their law review article laments the current state of abortion politics, which often leads to pro-abortion advocates ignoring or minimizing discussions about preborn children lost to miscarriage. This stance, note authors Greer Donley and Jill W. Lens, is callous in response to women who experience pregnancy loss but could be allies in their fight against abortion restrictions.
Their article touches on a common contradiction within the pro-abortion movement — namely, that proponents of abortion will acknowledge human life under some circumstances but not others. Rather than seeking an objective acknowledgement for the value of human life, Donley and Lens acknowledge humanity in the womb but suggest personhood is merely a social construct that factors in things like a mother’s view of her own pregnancy.
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“Not only is fetal value subjective, it is also relational,” the two law professors write. Their article promotes “not-one-but-not-two” framing in which the “fetus is not a legal person, but is human and the woman-fetus relationship is a ‘developing self-other relationship.’”
Notably, this same view is held by late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart, who has maimed and even killed women who sought abortions from him. In a previous Huffington Post interview, Carhart justifies his career by stating, “In my heart and my mind, you know, life begins when the mother thinks it begins, not when anybody else thinks it begins. For some women, it’s when they conceive, and for some women, it’s never, even after they deliver, it’s still a problem, not a baby.”
Lens is a professor at the University of Arkansas. Donley, meanwhile, works for the University of Pittsburgh, which has come under intense scrutiny for seemingly admitting it collects organs that have been extracted from live fetuses. The university has denied this charge but the controversy raised questions about the inherent value of human life and whether another value could feasibly be assigned in fetal tissue transfers. Federal law currently prohibits tissue trafficking through assigning valuable consideration to organs and other body parts.
Donley and Lens note, however, that the law isn’t consistent when it comes to preborn children. While criminal law sometimes acknowledges feticide as murder, tort law assigns damages based on subjective valuations.
Of wrongful death tort cases, the two write: “Even though wrongful death recognizes the parent and potential child as separate, a wrongful death claim is not based on the pregnant person and fetus as separate legal persons. A wrongful death claim creates no legal rights for the fetus. To the contrary, the only one with a legal right under the wrongful death claim is the parent.”
Torts are the model they believe could benefit pro-abortion activism as it would allow politicians to effectively both deny abortion is murder while also empathizing with a woman who sees her miscarriage as the death of a child.
“An account of subjective fetal value will allow the abortion rights movement to also position itself as a defender of the pregnant person and her interest in the fetus, potentially resonating with more Americans who hold nuanced views on a pregnancy’s value,” they argue.
They also suggest a homogenous view of pregnancy outcomes so as to destigmatize abortion.
“When pregnancy loss is normalized, abortion is no longer ‘an abrupt interruption before a natural goal is reached’ that ‘subverts nature,’ they write. “To the contrary, it is just one of the many ways pregnancies end before birth.”