How Did Abortion Become a ‘Woman’s Right’? Legal Scholar Lists 3 Factors

2021 March for Life Sign at 2021 March for Life/ Claudette Jerez/CNA

Modern feminism is “corrupted” by abortion and “eating away at itself,” according to one legal scholar. 

In her new book, legal scholar Erika Bachiochi delves into the history and evolution of feminist thought in the United States, including its relationship with abortion. The Catholic author recently spoke with EWTN Pro-Life Weekly about her latest publication: “The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision.” 

Bachiochi serves as a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a senior fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she founded and directs the Wollstonecraft Project. In her book, she draws inspiration from Mary Wollstonecraft, an early British feminist.

“My book showcases the once-predominant view that our rights are not to be asserted kind of willy-nilly according to our will or desires as they tend to be thought of today,” she said in a July 31 interview. “Rather rights are, properly speaking, born of and enable us to fulfill our already existing responsibilities to God, to ourselves, to our family, and to our communities.”

The idea of abortion as a right, Bachiochi said, originated from “seven men in black robes” who decided Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide.

There was another, longer explanation behind abortion becoming a “right” that Bachiochi condensed into three main factors.

“So one, the rising expectation that was born of the pill in the late 1960s, that we could really kind of totally control reproduction,” she began. “Number two, really powerful concerns about population control, some of which, as we now know, are strongly eugenic.”

She concluded: “I think the third is really the growing prevalence of a kind of property-rights philosophy or ethos applied to human beings.”

She stressed that “the arguments that got us Roe v. Wade were not pro-woman ones.”

When she hears abortion supporters chant “my body, my choice,” Bachiochi’s first response is to ask, “My choice to do what?”

“This kind of tagline is really, I think, born of a deeply – I guess you'd say impoverished – view of choice or freedom that really neglects to ask about the content of our choice,” she explained. “And so really holds up choice itself as its own end.”

Put simply, “don't we even teach children that before they go to choose something, they need to ask themselves, ‘Is this thing I desire to do choice-worthy at all?’” she asked. “‘Is it good, and so worth choosing, or is it evil, and so to be avoided?’”

She added: “It's really impossible to talk about choice or freedom without talking about what it aims toward its end.”

According to Bachiochi, there’s “no room for pro-lifers at all” in the feminist movement.

“I actually think that feminism, kind of the feminism of our time, has been really deeply corrupted by abortion and so is kind of eating away at itself,” she warned. 

 But she remained optimistic.

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“The evident failures of modern feminism have, I think, opened a space for something new, and a new and better way to think about rights – women's rights – and our shared responsibilities to one another,” she said. “So that's what I kind of try to offer in my new book.”

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