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The Essential Ellen Willis$
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Ellen Willis and Nona Willis Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816681204

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816681204.001.0001

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Is a Woman a Person?

(p.89) Abortion
The Essential Ellen Willis

Nona Willis Aronowitz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the debate over abortion rights. Abortion used to be almost always discussed in feminist terms—as a political issue affecting the condition of women. Since then, the right-to-life movement has succeeded in getting the public and the media to see abortion as an abstract moral issue having solely to do with the rights of fetuses. The “pro-life” position is based on a crucial fallacy: that the question of fetal rights can be isolated from the question of women’s rights. In their zeal to preserve fetal life at all costs, antiabortionists are ready to grant fetuses more legal protection than people. Despite its numerical insignificance, the antiabortion left epitomizes the hypocrisy of the right-to-life crusade. Its need to wrap misogyny in the rhetoric of social conscience and even feminism is actually a perverse tribute to the women’s movement; it is no longer acceptable to declare openly that women deserve to suffer for the sin of Eve.

Keywords:   feminism, abortion, women, right-to-life movement, fetal rights, women’s rights, antiabortion, left

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