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Siegel's View of Abortion Aborts Both Men and Babies.

Peter Zohrab 2019

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Professor Siegel's views on abortion are part of the new Feminist attempt to use "Equality" arguments to liberalise abortion law.

(Siegel, Reva B., Abortion as a Sex Equality Right: Its Basis in Feminist Theory).

Most of her article is historical in nature, and her historical remarks do not support conclusions about the current debate;

  1. Having provided some evidence that some Anti-Abortionists once had motivations relating to women’s role in society, she proceeds to argue as if that fact invalidates the whole anti-abortion argument;

  2. Having provided a depiction of another way to view the abortion debate, Siegel proceeds as if that is the only possible perspective to adopt when considering the issue.


Siegel states:

In debating the abortion question today, we reason within a physiological framework that abstracts the conflict from the social conflict in which judgments about abortion are formed and enforced. To understand the reasons why women seek to have children or to avoid having them, as well as the reasons why their choices are communally acceptable or not, one has to examine the social relations of reproduction and not merely its physiology.

Well, that sounds all very well and good. However, that passage does not have a sentence equivalent to: “To understand the reasons why men seek to have children or to avoid having them, as well as the reasons why their choices are communally acceptable or not, one has to examine the social relations of reproduction and not merely its physiology.” In other words, that passage views “social conflict” and “social relations” as being purely between women and society. The passage does not mention either the father or the unborn child itself.

The only way that a man can have children is through a woman. The only way that a person (whether male or female) can come into existence and be born is through a man and a woman. Once a person has come into existence (as a fertilised egg), the only way that they can actually be born is through a woman. So to write, as Siegel does, as if the social relations of reproduction involve just a woman, on the one hand, and society at large, on the other, is pure Fascism (Feminazism).

In fact, if you search her article for the word “fathers”, you obtain absolutely no results and if you search for the word “father”, you obtain just one result – and that comes from a quote by a 19th century doctor, who Siegel disapproves of! In other words, the words “Sex Equality” in the title of this article are to be understood as excluding fathers from all consideration! Feminist lying, as per usual!!

The thrust of Siegel’s argument can be seen clearly when she states that “a state forbidding abortion to protect potential life is forcing women who are resisting motherhood to bear children.” She goes on to state:

…a state criminalizing abortion to protect the unborn could nonetheless assist the women on whom it would impose motherhood. Why, then, is it that antiabortion laws do not assist pregnant women in coping with the social consequences of gestating and raising a child?

Siegel does not try very hard to think of possible responses to her objections. Apart from cases of rape, women become pregnant because of their own actions, which are not the responsibility of the state. A mother has responsibilities to the unborn child and to its father. If a woman wanted to resist motherhood, she should have started resisting motherhood by preventing herself from becoming pregnant in the first place. Life is full of individual decisions which have potential consequences in the Criminal Law, and the state does not generally feel a responsibility to help people avoid falling foul of the Criminal Law. Adults are supposed to be capable of doing that on their own – even women! Maybe Siegel wants to claim that women are subhumans who need constant help from the state, while men are left alone to suffer the consequences of their own actions!

Siegel locates her approach in the context of a tradition of recent Feminist thought:

“A number of feminist legal scholars began to repudiate equality theory focused on issues of similarity and difference and to argue for an inquiry focused on issues of hierarchy and subordination…. No longer was it necessary to demonstrate sex discrimination by comparing the treatment of women to a group of similarly situated men; instead, as Catherine MacKinnon argued, it was enough to show that ‘the policy or practice in question integrally contributes to the maintenance of an underclass or a deprived position because of gender status….’”

If this really is to be an equality theory focused on issues of hierarchy and subordination, then the same approach would have to be applied to men. There are plenty of issues where policies or practices integrally contribute to the maintenance of an underclass of men or a deprived position of men because of gender status and there is not the slightest chance that Feminists such as Siegel would devote any attention to them. Therefore the claim that her approach is a sort of “equality theory” is a barefaced lie. Some issues affecting men that are closely linked to motherhood and abortion are as follows:

  1. The fact that the father has no legal right to decide whether his child should or should not be aborted;

  2. The fact that the father nevertheless has to provide for his child in some manner or form – possibly in the form of child support;

  3. The fact that fathers are awarded sole custody less often than mothers after separation or divorce;

  4. The fact that fathers typically have a right to less paid parental leave than mothers – or no right to paid parental leave at all;

  5. The fact that social welfare payments related to the child are typically paid to the mother, rather than to both parents equally.


These policies or practices integrally contribute to the maintenance of an underclass of men or a deprived position of men because of gender status.


Siegel lists the following four arguments on abortion which follow the above “equal protection” approach, focused on issues of hierarchy and subordination:

1. Abortion restrictions single out women for an especially burdensome and invasive form of public regulation.

2. Abortion restrictions are gender-biased in justification and structure, reflecting diverse forms of status-based reasoning about women’s roles.

3. Restrictions on abortion injure women by compelling motherhood, forcing women to assume a role and to perform work that has long been used to subordinate them as a class.

4. Too often, legal restrictions on abortion do not save fetal lives but instead subject women, especially poor women, to unsafe, life-threatening medical procedures.


I would respond to these claims as follows:

1. The regulations on abortion are nowhere near as burdensome or invasive as those surrounding the male wartime conscription/draft and its consequences for the male concerned.

2. Siegel provides no evidence that the prime considerations of most modern decision-makers on abortion are “status-based reasoning about women’s roles”.

3. Pregnancy is in many ways a privileged position. The women concerned either deliberately or recklessly allowed themselves to become pregnant. It is ridiculous to claim that motherhood is a subordinate stauts, compared to the majority of paid employment.

4. If women break the law by procuring an illegal abortion, then any negative consequences to themselves pale in comparison to the consequences for the baby involved and are the fault of the mother.

-- Hamill, Jasper (2019): "Men are more disadvantaged than women in the UK, US and most of Europe, scientists claim." Metro, 4 Jan 2019.


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Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

23 August 2019