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Modern feminism has spent the last century fighting to give women the freedom to have jurisdiction over their voting rights, their ambitions, and their bodies. Some of the movement has done great good. But some of it has done great harm by reinforcing a common and problematic idea: that women’s rights ought to be understood in terms of property rights. “Owning your own body” seems like a natural enough freedom—who wouldn’t want it?—but in fact, it delivers a reductionistic conception of human flourishing that fails both women and the unborn.
We see this most clearly in the abortion debate, vaulted into the public square 46 years ago with the landmark Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade. Both this ruling and the subsequent Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision codify an ownership view of the self. Women’s bodies are a form of property, and...
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