Ownership, property and women's bodies

In Heather Widdows, Aitsiber Emaldi Cirion & Itziar Alkorta Idiakez (eds.), Women's Reproductive Rights. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 188-198 (2006)
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Does advocating women's reproductive rights require us to believe that women own property in their bodies? In this chapter I conclude that it does not. Although the concept of owning our own bodies — ‘whose body is it anyway?’ — has polemical and political utility, it is incoherent in philosophy and law. Rather than conflate the entirely plausible concept of women’s reproductive rights and the implausible notion of property in the body, we should keep them separate, so that the weakness of the second concept does not contaminate the purity of the first.

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Donna Dickenson
Birkbeck, University of London


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