Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 March 2021
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.
9. Although it is complicated for feminist ethics in particular, which on the one hand endorses bodily integrity and bodily self-determination, especially for women who have historically been denied bodily self-determination, and on the other hand underscores the myth of individual autonomy in favor of theories of relational autonomy.
15. See note 4, Locke 1988, at 269. Further, when Locke speaks to all men having perfect freedom and equality, I presume he imagined only particular races and classes of men.
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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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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52. Here I am thinking primarily about how societies have failed to recognize women, and racial or ethnic minorities as fully autonomous political agents within a society, and not how minors or people lacking competent decision-making capacity are not fully autonomous agents in either political or biomedical settings.
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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.
58. The exception could be a rape case in which a civil suit was brought and damages were found to be owed, but this is a penalty for a harm, not compensation for an acceptable crossing.
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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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67. As shown in the New York Times 2020 June 29.
69. When considering human rights for fetuses, legal scholar Michelle Goodwin argues that “fetuses and embryos lack legal human identity in virtually all forms of law” (224), though she recognizes laws that extend health care to pregnant people via their fetus as a future unborn child nonetheless exist and paradoxically erode at women’s rights in that they “primarily burden women and in unique and pernicious ways” (196). Goodwin, M. If embryos and fetuses have rights. Law & Ethics of Human Rights 2017;11(2):189–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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