Sources & Extracts
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Beverly Harrison is a Christian feminist theologian and moral
philosopher. In her article "Theology and Morality of Procreative
Choice" she outlines her views on abortion, with emphasis
on the importance on what she calls "body-right." A
version of her article was originally published in The Witness
in July and September of 1981. The following excerpt is taken
from a later version included in Making the Connections,
an anthology of her essays. She further developed her views in
her 1983 book Our Right to Choose. She writes as follows:
One of Christianity's greatest weaknesses is its spiritualizing neglect of respect for the physical body and physical well-being. Tragically, women, more than men, are expected in Christian teaching never to honor their own well-being as a moral consideration. I want to stress, then, that we have no moral tradition in Christianity that starts with body-space, or body-right, as a basic condition or moral relations. (Judaism is far better in this regard, for it acknowledges that we all have a moral right to be concerned for our life and our survival.) Hence, many Christian ethicists simply do not get the point when we speak of women's right to bodily integrity. They blithely denounce such reasons as women's disguised self-indulgence or hysterical rhetoric.
We must articulate our view that body-right is a basic moral claim and also remind our hearers that there is no unchallengeable analogy among other human activities to women's procreative power. Pregnancy is a distinctive human experience. In any social relation, body-space must be respected or nothing deeply human or moral can be created. The social institutions most similar to compulsory pregnancy in their moral violations of body-space are chattel slavery and peonage. These institutions distort the moral relations of a community and deform a community over time.
Reference: Beverly Harrison, Making the Connections, p. 129-130.