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What’s in a Name? Or NARAL By Any Other Name . . .

It is no wonder then that feminists seek ways of redefining their claims for continued access to legal abortion services. Eileen L. McDonagh’s (1996) proposal begins by accepting the pro-life assertion that the fetus, from conception, is a human being with legal rights. Putting the fetus and the pregnant woman on an equal footing, McDonagh argues, brings new rights into play, namely, that no person, even a fetus, has the right to intrude on and live from the body of another person without that person’s consent. The state has the obligation to enforce a woman’s right to consent to be pregnant and even to assist a woman in defending her body from the fetus (i.e., provide abortion services) (McDonagh 1996). Alison M. Jaggar (1998) reminds feminists of the early days of the movement when reproductive rights were considered essential to equality. Access to safe abortion, she argues, is necessary to women’s health; without it women are vulnerable to illegal methods that threaten their lives. “Alternatively or perhaps complementarily, abortion may be seen as necessary to equal opportunity for women, since the denial of abortion access clearly has a disparate impact on women’s possibilities for full social participation” (Jaggar 1998, p. 349).