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A Problem of Self-Ownership for Reproductive Justice

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 March 2021

Abstract

This paper raises three concerns regarding self-ownership rhetoric to describe autonomy within healthcare in general and reproductive justice in specific. First, private property and the notion of “ownership” embedded in “self-ownership,” rely on and replicate historical injustices related to the initial acquisition of property. Second, not all individuals are recognized as selves with equal access to self-ownership. Third, self-ownership only justifies negative liberties. To fully protect healthcare access and reproductive care in specific, we must also be able to make claims on others to respect, protect, and fulfill our positive rights. As much as nondomination remains an urgent demand for reproductive rights, it does not go far enough to ensure reproductive justice.

Type
Special Section: Decision Making and Leadership in Crises and Beyond
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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References

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22. Writing prior to Locke, in the first half of the seventeenth century, Hugo Grotius also saw use as a necessary condition for property ownership and connected use of consumables like clothing or food to the occupation or habitation of territory, suggesting that: “A thing that cannot be occupied cannot become property and remains open to the common use of everyone.” As cited in Pateman, C, Mills, C. Contract and Domination. Cambridge: Polity Press; 2007, at 48.Google Scholar

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37. See note 29, Rose 1994, at 14–6. The question of what kind of communication is legible to others, and what happens when one claims that something is theirs in a way that is not understood by others, remains a problem for Rose’s view that would need significant development.

note 29

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39. The worry would be when those who are not generally in positions of power, who have been historically marginalized, excluded from rights like ownership, or otherwise oppressed, communicate the taking of a claim that is not heard by the dominating power because it chooses to not hear or understand the claims made by the minority or marginalized group or individual. I take it that part of claiming ownership over “my body” in the reproductive rights arena is meant as an expressive act, and one that falls short in part because women (cis and trans) are not historically recognized as legitimate holders of rights to claim something as “mine.”

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note 5

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57. The cross and compensate thesis assumes or requires that appropriate amounts of compensation can be identified, and that individuals have the means to compensate those they have crossed. In practice neither of these may be the case.

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63. I am only considering safe, evidence-based abortion methods. In the absence of safe and legal medical abortions, pregnant people are forced to identify methods for self-aborting that are often unsafe, unproven, and can lead to harmful complications.

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