Category Archives: Abortion

Non-Sexist Morality is Misogynistic

I am not digressing from trying to articulate what a morally grave matter might be. I intend to resume with specifying what it might mean to say that male masturbation is a grave matter. Focusing on male masturbation involves using a sexist moral theory. A sexist moral theory presupposes that some sexual obligations and privileges are prefaced with “because you are a woman” and “because you are a man.” I defend using a sexist morality in my book* although I did not there point out the misogyny of a non-sexist morality.

This observation of this post is also a critique of the moral theories used to justify abortion on demand. See Banning Abortions Might Undercut Prolife Goals It also supports a much earlier post that it is the prochoice camp and not the prolife groups that are waging a war on women. See HHS Mandate as a War on Women .

A rational person valuing autonomy could not consistently will that nature should be designed so that half the people seeking to satisfy a extremely strong inclination risk losing their autonomy. I will not digress to any discussion of Kantian moral theory. I want only to note that I need to set aside much of Kantian moral theory which has influenced me greatly. Kantian morality is non-sexist. The brief allusion to Kantian reasoning brings out a “hatred” of a non-sexist morality for the reality that nature has created men and women; more exactly a hatred for human sexual reproduction.

I won’t cite many implicitly misogynistic pleas, many by women, that we cannot have full sexual equality until women have the possibility of the same sexual freedom men allegedly have. I sketch an argument without details of daily between the sexes. The argument expresses opposition to women as they are naturally. With “women as they are naturally,” I refer to the way women were before birth control pills enabled millions, if not billions, of women to be infertile through most of their reproductive years. Implicitly, I think, Paul VI’s 1968 Humanae Vitae condemned use of The Pill because it would be a major step toward suppressing femininity.

(1)If morality is non-sexist, then sexual activity should not place obligations on women which are not placed on men.
(2) If women should stay as they are naturally, then sexual activity places obligations on women which are not placed on men.
Hence,(3) if morality is non-sexist, then women should not stay as they are naturally.

* Confronting Sexual Nihilism Oklahoma City, 2014 A free copy of my book is available by emailing me at

Banning All Abortions May Undercut the Pro-Life Cause

Recently, around Labor Day 2022, I received a letter from the Population Research Institute (PRI) asking me to sign a petition to Governor Mike DeWine to illegalize all abortions in Ohio. There are many reasons why I did not sign the petition; not the least of which is the fact that a generous donation was requested to accompany the signed petition. I have up to $100 for pro-life causes. I donate only to pregnancy care centers.

Here, though, my objection to the petition is that trying to ban all abortions, will misdirect the abortion debate from the rights of the unborn to an abstract moral theory debate about the rights of women in an ideally just society. The pro-life moral vision will not prevail in the debate.

In my opinion, the dominant, although incorrect, moral vision sees a just society as one in which the only features and conditions traditionally linked with biological sex are those an individual chooses to have.

From this perspective, consider a women’s right to choose abortion versus her fetuses’ right to life. For this moral vision, individual autonomy is a supreme value. A life without autonomy is not worth living! Any rational being, or potentially rational being, would not choose to being compelled to provide life support for another. So, a fetus would choose to be born into a society where pregnant women would have unrestricted right to abortion. So, a fetus would choose to be aborted if its mother so chose. For considering how life might go from behind a ” veil of ignorance” on what kind of person one would be, the rational fetus would choose to live in a pro-choice society if born a woman.

Currently, in Ohio, abortions are banned after the detection of cardiac activity. Debate can focus on the rights of fetuses at this stage versus the health needs of the mother. The rights of the fetus are not considered in the realm of purely rational beings making choices about rights. See Abortion as a Save, Legal but Rare Grave Evil for defending lives by continually working to make legal abortions rare. This approach maintains the nastiness of specific types of abortion before the public mind instead of on the rights of women.

I claim that the pro-life moral vision will not prevail because social contract methodology lies deep in contemporary moral thought. What is just is determined by imagining what rational beings would choose if they did not know how their life would go. If autonomy is presupposed as a supreme value, we get the moral vision on abortion I sketched above.

Given that social contract thinking is dominant, and autonomy now is a supreme value, a general moral debate about abortion will leave the pro-choice perspective victorious.

My efforts in these blog posts is to recover from out traditions an alternative moral theory. But if I have anything to add, it will be generations before the social contract methodology and autonomy pass away.

Perhaps, it is not so much the social contract methodology as the emphasis on autonomy which is so corrupting.

Abortion As a Safe, Legal but Rare Grave Evil

In so far as I am able to influence public opinion, I hope to avoid a time when a large minority think abortion is totally permissible and most other people think that it is morally wrong but not gravely wrong. It’s naughty but nice as long as safe and legal.

Reflection on the notion of moral gravity have helped me to articulate my support for President Clinton’s 1992 campaign proposal that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. The widespread and unabashed endorsement of abortion in reaction to the US Supreme Court’s decision, Dobbs, June 24, 2022, that abortion is not a US constitutional right has vindicated opponents of abortion who nonetheless expressed tolerance of legal abortion with the formula “safe, legal and rare.” We dreaded the moral corruption of our fellow citizens that develops when there is widespread enthusiastic support for unlimited access to abortion.

The formula refers to elective abortions. These are abortions simply on the basis of the pregnant woman’s choice. The formula can be used to express toleration of the legality of some elective abortions. The formula does not specify which are to be legally tolerated. Certainly, not all are to be legal. The rarity requirement emphasizes that many elective abortions are to be illegal. Legislative action is needed to fulfill the rarity requirement.

Why did I support the formula”

Abortions should be safe. We should not wish ill health or death for anyone. There are at least two reasons why abortions should be legal. Legal abortions can controlled by legal statutes. Furthermore, a complete ban on abortions at this state of human culture perverts human attention to the temporary goods attainable by abortions. This is attested to by the current unabashed endorsement of abortion because of fears of abolition of abortion. Abortion should be rare because it is from the moment of conception always morally wrong. It is always the intentional stopping of a human life. We should promote the good of human life and oppose the evil of immoral choices to stop the good of human life. Abortion is intrinsically wrong even in cases of pregnancies due to forcible rape and incest.

In 2022 and several years after, there is no basis for believing that legal abolition of abortions would lessen the evils of abortion and promote the good of human life. In the US abolition of abortion might lead to glorification of abortions as prohibition led to romanticizing excess drinking. At this time, mere fear of the highly unlikely abolition of abortion has corrupted the public to turn away from the ugly evil of abortion to focus on the temporary good of solving “hard cases” where abortion seems to be the best solution.

Apparently, many, many people do not think abortion is a grave matter even if they think it is not quite right.
The political means for educating ourselves and others about the moral gravity of abortion is to use laws to marginalize and stigmatize abortion in public perception along with reducing abortions. As the saying goes promote laws which have “a chilling effect” on abortions. Keep abortions difficult to attain and perceived as morally dubious, if not outright wrong. But do not go far enough to raise fear of abolition. Keep the extreme pro-choice people focused on combatting specific anti-abortion legislation. We want them defending some type of dubious abortion; but not cheer leaders for all abortions.

But in the US and EU the situation has deteriorated to the point where there may be abolition of any legal restrictions on abortions. Abortions will be safe and legal. Rarity will be sought only in the sense that in general people prefer avoiding medical procedures.

With abortion the public perception of its moral gravity has degenerated from a grave evil to a trivial matter.

The struggle to re-establish a culture in which abortion is dark and dirty, i.e., gravely wrong, is to lead popular imagination* to contain images of particular abortions as gravely wrong. Debating the merits of kinds of abortions is more effective for this end than debates in political theory about rights of women and their unborn children.

* Philosophic tasks keep multipling, and not without necessity. Now I owe an account of collective imagination as well as collective thoughts.

Authentic Male Opposition to Abortion

Coitus Without Commitment is Essentially Abortive

Coitus is for creation of new life in two ways*. One: It is for conception. Two: It is for the creation of the unity striving to emerge which is the male/female monogamous lifelong bond – the nuptial pair. In coitus without commitment such as in prostitution and casual sex, there is mutual dismissal of both of the goods. In intention any conceptus is aborted and in fact the joint new life is aborted.

It is not surprising, as Christine Emba reports that casual sex is disappointing. As the couple go their separate ways, one or both, are vulnerable to a sense of having pleasure at the expense of destroying new life. Implicitly we have a sense of coitus as immensely important. (Social-biological speculation could easily invent evolutionary hypotheses about why the life-giving activity would not be taken lightly.) If there was pleasure, it was for nothing. In a coitus fully open to conception and nuptial bonding, the pleasure is carried forward as having been an aid in forming the nuptial bond.

Here, though, my focus is on male sexual morality. My goal is not a therapeutic goal of advising men on how to avoid regret about unsatisfying sex. I do not rely upon men feeling inchoate regret about pointless sex as do the women in Ms. Emba’s stories. On the whole, men may not be seriously dissatisfied with promiscuity. We ought to be. By reflecting on the double abortive element in promiscuous sex, I propose a standard for men to morally judge their actions – themselves and one another. It is directed to men who profess to be opposed to abortion.

Never lie with a woman if you are not willing to be her exclusive sexual partner and to care for her and any child which might result from your coitus with her.

A male who does not accept the above standard is not authentically opposed to abortion.
Also a nasty A-word describes his character.

*See Susanna Spencer’s
July 25, 2022 National Catholic Register article for a clear account of Catholicism’s development of the Church’s doctrine on this bifold good of sexuality

Philosophical Analaysis as Ignoring the Voice of God

I concluded my previous post with a promise to examine my personal recognition that it is a mistake to characterize abortion as anything that overrides thinking of it as stopping a human life. I made the promise because I conjectured that making a moral mistake is thinking of a situation in some way which obscures what it truly is. Fulfilling the promise is part of developing a divine command moral theory. For I am assuming that making a moral mistake is not hearing the command of God and that hearing the command of God is recognizing a situation for what it truly is. So, I will be commited to holding that, on some occasions at least, recognizing the truth, even the truth of empirical claims, is more than an empirical fact. It is a command from God.

I can recall clearly the occasion on which I came to recognize that abortion is fundamentally the intentional stopping of a human life. About forty years ago, I was teaching an introductory course in moral philosophy at Ohio State. I remember the classroom: 143 University Hall. The course focused on moral problems. In the two weeks, six classes, on abortion, we worked through the pros and cons of abortion. We speculated about various theories on what made someone a person, when life began and, of course,brooded over Judith J. Thompson’s famous essay comparing pregnancy with being involuntarily hooked up to a world class violinist for nine months.

In the last two decades of the twentieth century, a professor, at a secular university, could be neutral about the morality of abortion. I sensed, though, that it would be considered inappropriate to profess that abortion was intrinsically immoral.

Furthermore, the resources of philosophy are inadequate for constructing a proof of abortion immorality. The way is always open to shifting to consequentialist moral reasoning. The shift to consequentialist moral reasoning is strongly supported by the numerous “trolley examples” whose main thrust is to show the moral irrelevance of an intention to directly take a human life. For trolley problems see Trolley Problems. Abortion needs to be understood as directly intending to stop a human life in order to condemn it.

After the first week, I realized that the purpose of any abortion is to stop a human life in the womb before it is delivered and becomes a bigger problem than it imposes in the womb. When I realized that all of the discussion was to justify direct killing, I became ashamed of what I was doing. I dropped the discussion of abortion and dealt with other moral issues. Going forward, I did not request teaching moral philosophy classes and took on a greater burden of teaching boring introductory logic classes.

What was it like to come to this realization? I want to call it hearing the command of God. But there was nothing spectacular: no intense sensations or feelings. Cetainly, no sense of a booming voice of God. I simply realized that I morally ought to accept the second premise for the following moral syllogism.

Directly taking a human life is wrong under all circumstances and for whatever purpose.
Abortion is directly taking a human life.
Hence, abortion is wrong under all circumstances and for whatever purpose.

My realization was that I ought no longer allow essentially unending philosophical pros and cons stop me from taking the above syllogism as a having the strength of a mathematical proof. All sorts of fascinating, but unresolvable, philosophic issues can be raised about the syllogisms. Some of the issues concern notions of the role of intentions, whether utilitarianism is the correct moral theory, issues about personhood, rights of woman, beginning of life, personal identity. For me, there was the realization that the moral permissibilty of abortion was not a philosophical question. I commanded myself to stop philosophizing and look at the facts. The fact I confronted is that abortion is directly stopping a human life.

Yes, the command was autonomous. I gave it to myself. But the presentation of the fact in response to which I commanded myself was given to me by the moral commander as the fundamental fact beneath all of the other ways of characterizing the pregnancy.

For me, a way of making a moral mistake is not to respond to the facts about which I am raising all sorts of philosophical problems. Philosophical analysis of a fact is not observing it and. most importantly, not believing it as the truth.