Paperback / softback
November 29, 2001
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
.6 Pounds (US)
$21.95 USD, £15.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

The Abortion Myth

Feminism, Morality, and the Hard Choices Women Make

The feminist position on abortion is little changed from thirty years ago, argues Leslie Cannold. Mired in the rhetoric of "rights," feminists have failed to appreciate women's actual experience of abortion and have ceded the debate on the morality of abortion to the anti-choice contingent. In order to counter the current erosion of abortion rights and appeal to women of Generation X, who don't remember a time when abortion wasn't safe and legal, feminism must evolve a richer, more nuanced understanding of abortion, she says, one that is premised on the right to choose, yet sensitive to the value of the fetus and the serious responsibilities of motherhood.

Cannold, an American bioethicist working in Australia, seeks to forge a new ethics of abortion in her groundbreaking book. Drawing on her own study of women's actual experiences of and attitudes toward abortion, she documents the difficult choices women make and the moral and ethical reasoning they bring to bear on the question of abortion, whether they are pro- or anti-choice. In the lived experience of women, she finds a practical ethics of abortion in which termination is not only a moral response to an unplanned pregnancy, it may be the only moral response.

Feminism must develop a new appreciation of what abortion means to women, Cannold argues. Women's right to choose (or reject) motherhood, rather than to "control their bodies," must be at the center of this new approach, as must the responsive, caring relationship between the pregnant woman and her fetus. Such an approach to this volatile issue speaks to the concerns of both pro- and anti-choice advocates, offering a middle ground in an often polarizing debate. Upon her book's publication in Australia, The Bulletin (Australia's weekly news magazine) declared that "a refreshingly forthright and compassionate voice has broken through the rancour and tedium of this benighted controversy." This first American edition, revised and with a new introduction, brings Cannold's new voice and perspective to a new audience.

About the Authors

LESLIE CANNOLD is a researcher and journalist currently working on a Ph.D. at the Department of Early Childhood Studies at the University of Melbourne. She holds a Master of Bioethics from the Centre of Human Bioethics at Monash University and has published in a variety of popular magazines and academic journals. She has two children. RENE DENFELD is author of The New Victorians: A Young Woman's Challenge to the Old Feminist Order (1995).


"If you have any opinions about abortion, here's a book that will make you think harder about it."—Chicago Tribune

"Claiming that in the minds of women facing the decision, abortion is less about abstract rights and the power to control one's own body than the awesome responsibility of motherhood and the quality of life awaiting the unborn child, Cannold attempts to turn the prochoice position away from its fundamental focus on abstract rights and toward a focus that encompasses the moral and ethical considerations taking place during the decision-making process."—Choice

"If you have any opinions about abortion, here's a book that will make you think harder about it."—Chicago Tribune

"Constructs a new ethics of abortion based on how women actually decide whether or not to become a mother. There's nothing cavalier or casual about most women's decision to have an abortion, nor are most women thinking about their 'rights' when they make this decision . . . Cannold argues that feminists must abandon the sterile rhetoric of rights, instead basing their defense of abortion rights on the nuanced, practical calculus women actually apply in making these moral decisions."—Booklist


"Leslie Cannold breaks through the all too predictable forms the abortion debate has taken and shows that in focusing on the question of a woman's rights to control her own body and a fetus's right to life, we have neglected the issue of motherhood and a woman's responsibility for her child. To introduce a new set of ethical issues into such a longstanding controversy is a remarkable achievement."—Peter Singer, Princeton University
Wesleyan University Press

9780819563859 : the-abortion-myth-cannold-denfeld
Paperback / softback
212 Pages
$21.95 USD

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