Sources & Extracts

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The following excerpts are taken from the Petchesky article in the Cozic and Tipp anthology. For a complete statement of her views, see Abortion and Woman's Choice: The State, Sexuality, and Reproductive Freedom. She writes as follows:

Abortion in itself does not create reproductive freedom. . . . Abortion is but one of many social conditions that encompass women's education, employment, health, reproductive choice, and economic and sexual self-determination. . . .
[A]bortion --easily available, cheap, administered under safe, hygienic conditions early in a pregnancy and in an ambience free of stigma and guilt-- is a component (not just a condition) of women's liberation. . . .
Abortion is a necessary, though far from sufficient, condition of women's essential right and need, not only for bodily health and self-determination, but also for control over their work, their sexuality, and their relations with others --including existing children. . . .
What does it mean to talk about abortion as a social right or, more accurately, a social need? First, it means that access to abortion (as distinct from the actual experience) is necessary to women's well-being and self-determination; therefore, it is closer to a "necessary good" than a "necessary evil," whatever discomfort it may entail. . . . Second, it means that the need for abortion is universal in the sense that its availability is essential to all women, for it defines the terms and conditions of "womanhood" in the society. . . .

Reference: These excerpts are taken from the selection by Rosalind Petchesky in Abortion: Opposing Viewpoints, p. 179-181.