A bortion and feminism -- these are highly-charged issues. And a male religious Franciscan no less, writing on them! I am who I am. How dare I write on such an issue? What can I know of women's experience? In the course of our study we shall come across much talk of women's experiences, to be sure. The authors we shall discuss make it an important part of their approach to the abortion question. We shall try to learn what we can from them. Yet experience is a notoriously protean concept: whose experience is to count in evaluating the morality of abortion? Simone de Beauvoir's or Sidney Callahan's? Mary Daly's or Mother Teresa's? Radical feminism's or the Catholic Church's?
Perhaps a comment made by Beverly Harrison will have to do as my best defense regarding the experience that allows me to write about such a topic. She is answering the question: would she have wanted abortion legal when she herself was born?
"The question, when it has been pressed on me, has always caused me to smile; for I almost was a medically dictated abortion, and I have lived much of my life with that knowledge. But I also know, as anyone who comprehends the development of self-awareness will understand, that if I had been aborted, there would have been no 'I' to experience it" ( Our Right to Choose, p. 257).
Abortion is neither a man's nor a woman's issue exclusively, neither a feminist nor a Catholic issue exclusively. It is rather a human issue of the first magnitude, one involving men and women, feminists and Catholics, to be sure, but all human beings as well. The very definition of who we are is at stake. In the abortion controversy, at stake is not so much the