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Why Does Little Argue That We Need an 'ethics of Intimacy'? Do You Agree?

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According to the feminist Margaret Little there is limited focus on the physical interconnection of the gestating woman when discussing the topic of abortion. Little argues that factors such as intimacy, responsibility and motherhood are significant issues that need to be taken into account when discussing the debate of abortion. Little argues that a gestating woman is "an intimacy of deep proportions" This argument represents women as a person rather than a space for the foetus and demonstrates how we need an ethics of intimacy so as to consider the gestating woman's rights. Little explores how 'rights' frameworks do not always apply to women in the case of an unwanted pregnancy. What is more, Little expresses the importance of the intimacy costs to women; arguing that every person should have the fundamental right to control one's own body and subsequently if abortion is impermissible women are deprived of this right. Furthermore, Little expresses that if a state were to make abortion impermissible this would lead to certain burdens and harms that would significantly affect women.1 Throughout this essay, Little's arguments for an ethic of intimacy will be demonstrated and explored.

Little questions mainstream political theory on the notion of atomistic separate persons. According to political and moral theories, rights and duties prescribed to us are based upon "distinct individuals" in the way that they are completely and physically separate from any other person. Little highlights that when talking about a gestating woman such rights and moral theories are not adhered to; arguing that a pregnant woman and the foetus is either "a relationship between strangers or ...the woman dubbed a ready made mother who is blithely assigned to responsibilities of a kind and level unmatched by any other citizen."2 Moral and political theories suggest that women have a moral obligation towards the foetus. And so as a result the rights and duties that are modelled on individuals is disregarded when concerning the moral issues of abortion.

Little argues that the mainstream approach to the debate of abortion is mostly influenced by two positions. Firstly, the pro life position argues that it is morally impermissible to kill a person, a foetus is a person and therefore abortion is fundamentally wrong. The second approach named the pro-choice argument, stresses a right to privacy - it is a personal choice made by the gestating woman as it involves her body. These two positions raise the question of whether a foetus qualifies as a person. Little points out that both positions agree that if the foetus is a person it would be wrong to kill the foetus. As every person has a fundamental right to life and therefore aborting the foetus would be simply wrong. Little argues that this is where the intimacy costs of the women are not addressed. It seems as though the foetus' rights outweigh women's rights. In response to this, most people tacitly describe the foetus' rights as something that circumscribes the woman's boundaries and therefore is not outweighing her rights. Little responds to this by arguing "women's rights come to an end when they reach the body of a fetus." Little challenges the "right to life" principle; outlining that the 'right to life principle' argues that individuals do not have the right to "life preserving aid from a stranger." Little applies this notion to a gestating woman; keeping the foetus alive means allowing intimate use of your body. Little concludes that according to the 'right to life' principle a foetus does not have the right to the use of a woman's body and therefore women do not have an obligation to keep the foetus alive and so ultimately abortion is acceptable.3

Little investigates the harm of the state forcing women to gestate and what burdens it would impose on women. Firstly, Little considers the medical risks to the gestating women and argues that these should be taken into consideration. However, Little acknowledges that medical risks usually are not the reason women do not want to gestate. Another burden of forced gestation means problems of gender inequality.4 According to the women's liberation movement, abortion is essential for gender equality. They argue that women's life choices are affected by bearing children whereas men do not have this restriction; abortion means women can achieve political, economic and social equality. Furthermore, women should have access to abortion to have full rights so that their bodily integrity is protected. It becomes apparent that if women are forced to gestate they do not have the same moral status as men.5 Little also explores the meaning of being pregnant and how in unwanted gestation is a burden. Little describes being pregnant as being "occupied" and a "state



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