So even in the cases where the decision to have an abortion is the right one, it can still be the reflection of a moral failing-not because the de- cision itself is weak or cowardly or irresolute or irresponsible or light- minded, but because lack of the requisite opposite of these failings landed one in the circumstances in the first place. Hence the common universalized claim that guilt and remorse are never appropriate emo- tions about an abortion is denied. They may be appropriate, and appro- priately inculcated, even when the decision was the right one. Another motivation for bringing women's rights into the discussion may be to attempt to correct the implication, carried by the killing-cen- tered approach, that insofar as abortion is wrong, it is a wrong that only women do, or at least (given the preponderanceof male doctors) that only women instigate. I do not myself believe that we can thus escape the fact that nature bears harder on women than it does on men,i6 but virtue theory can certainly correct many of the injustices that the em- phasis on women's rights is rightly concerned about. With very little amendment, everything that has been said above applies to boys and men too. Although the abortion decision is, in a natural sense, the wom- an's decision, proper to her, boys and men are often party to it, for well is (usually) a good and hence (human) death usually an evil. The exceptions would be (a) where death is actually a good or a benefit, because the baby that would come to be if the life were not cut short would be better off dead than alive, and (b) where death, though not a good, is not an evil either, because the life that would be led (e.g., in a state of permanent coma) would not be a good. (See Foot, "Euthanasia.") i6. I discuss this point at greater length in Beginning Lives. This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Thu, 29 Aug 2013 15:50:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
244 Philosophy & Public Affairs or ill, and even when they are not, they are bound to have been party to the circumstances that brought it up. No less than girls and women, boys and men can, in their actions, manifest self-centeredness, callous- ness, and light-mindedness about life and parenthood in relationto abor- tion. They can be self-centered or courageous about the possibility of dis- abilityin their offspring; they need to reflect on their sexual activity and their choices, or the lack of them, about their sexual partner and contra- ception; they need to grow up and take responsibility for their own ac- tions and life in relation to fatherhood.If it is true, as I maintain, that insofar as motherhoodis intrinsically worthwhile, being a mother is an important purpose in women's lives, being a father (rather than a mere generator) is an important purpose in men's lives as well, and it is ado- lescent of men to turn a blind eye to this and pretend that they have many more important things to do.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 25 pages?