No Higher Court: Contemporary Feminism and the Right to Abortion

By Germain Kopaczynski | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR, 1908-1986

The Epistemology of Abortion

The immorality of women, favorite theme of misogynists, is not to be wondered at; how could they fail to feel an inner mistrust of the presumptuous principles that men publicly proclaim and secretly disregard? They learn to believe no longer in what men say when they exalt woman or when they exalt man; the one thing they are sure of is this rifled and bleeding womb, these shreds of crimson life, this child that is not there. It is at her first abortion that woman begins to "know." For many women the world will never be the same.1


The Mother of a Movement

S imone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex is the sine qua non of contemporary feminist readings.2 Though she devotes a sizeable section of the book to the topic, Simone de Beauvoir spent her whole life avoiding motherhood.3 Her attitude toward motherhood never

____________________
1
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, pp. 463-464.
2
Cf. Camille Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture ( New York: Vintage Books, 1992), p. 112: "The Second Sex remains for me the supreme work of modern feminism. Most contemporary feminists don't realize to what degree they are merely repeating, amplifying, or qualifying its individual sections and paragraphs."
3
Despite what Beauvoir said at the Bobigny trial, two recent biographers agree that Simone de Beauvoir herself never had an abortion. According to Deirdre Bair, Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography ( New York: Summit Books, 1990), p. 547, even though Beauvoir signed the Manifesto of the 343 and then led a pro-abortion march through the streets of Paris, the French feminist told Bair that she never had an abortion. Basing herself on comments made by Beauvoir's sister, Margaret Crossland, Simone de Beauvoir: The Woman and her Work ( London: Wm. Heinemann, Ltd., 1992), reaches the same conclusion. Beauvoir's deposition at the Bobigny trial is found in Claude Francis and Fernande Gontier, Les écrits de Simone de Beauvoir. La Vie. L'écriture: Avce en appendice textes inédits ou retrouvés ( Paris: Gallimard, 1979), pp. 510-513.

-19-

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No Higher Court: Contemporary Feminism and the Right to Abortion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Preface xvii
  • Introduction - "A Fight Against the Work of God" 1
  • Chapter One - Simone De Beauvoir, 1908-1986 19
  • Chapter Two - Mary Daly, 1928- 61
  • Chapter Three - Carol Gilligan, 1936- 101
  • Chapter Four - Beverly Wildung Harrison, 1932- 137
  • Chapter Five - Pro-Choice Feminism 181
  • Chapter Six - Pro-Life Feminism 203
  • Bibliography 227
  • Index 239
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