Life Studies Blog (Old)

March 14, 2005

Feminist philosophy of abortion / feminism and bioethics (by M)

I have posted some comments on a Japanese women's liberation activist, Mitsu Tanaka, and her philosophy of abortion (See here and here). I published a very short essay in English, and a close examination of her works in my book written in Japanese. Now I am writing a new paper on feminist philosophies of abortion in women's lib movement in Japan in 1970s. I am thinking of adding some more translations of Mitsu Tanaka's words at that time.

I received an email from a woman who uploaded on her blog her own experience of abortion and her contemplation of the meaning of her experience. Her blog,
Ambivablog, is here. Please visit and read it.

By the way, the following is an excerpt from the manuscript I am now writing:

Tanaka thinks that a woman who chooses abortion sways between two kinds of honest feelings, that is, the honest feeling that it is her right to abort a fetus, and the honest feeling that if she chooses abortion she becomes a fetus killer. She is thrown into the state of the swaying between these two honest feelings. Tanaka stresses that women should start from this "sway of the confused self" because this sway of the confused self leads us to encounter other people who are also swaying between other types of honest feelings in the midst of their lives. The real encounter is made possible, Tanaka thinks, only between people who are swaying and suffering between contradictory honest feelings. For Tanaka, the important thing is not to solve the dilemma but to live with it.

Tanaka rejects the dichotomy of pro-choice/pro-life, and persists in thinking just between them. She stresses that women must be able to choice abortion, but she also thinks that women do not have the "right" to abortion. Her philosophy is very fascinating and stimulating. Her thought created, in a sense, the foundation of Japanese bioethical thoughts in the 1970s together with disabled activists who were opposing a bill admitting selective abortion (See
this paper).

I will submit the paper in progress to a journal, and when published I will upload it to the
INLS website.

This topic is really interesting and important especially in the age of new eugenics which we are now entering.

Photo: Roppongi Hills

* We moved to the new blog. Please visit:


  • good.I would say the sway of contradictory emotions, the necessary factor for one's primary commitment to the process of making, keeps life go on.

    By Anonymous sreejitha, at 5:20 AM, October 10, 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home