Document Type


Publication Date



Abortion, Reproductive rights


Law and Society


Feminist and some other abortion rights advocates typically ground the right to abortion in bodily integrity, thus conceptualizing abortion as vindicating a right to disassociate oneself from an intruder. Although valid as a matter of logic, the bodily integrity argument is libertarian and seemingly selfish. But a fundamentally associative interest also grounds the abortion right. A woman who cannot raise a child but is legally required to bear one must undergo the psychic pain of forced separation from an infant whom she is biologically programmed to love. Human mothers, like other mammalian mothers, grieve the loss of their young, as illustrated by the sad plight of dairy cows. Accordingly, the abortion right may be best understood as protecting not only an interest in bodily separation, but an interest in avoiding loss, that is, an interest in “never having loved at all.”