Vulnerability, Recognition, and the Ethics of Pregnancy

A Theological Response

Vulnerability is a notion discussed in feminist philosophy as a basis for a morality that widens our sense of those whose deaths are grievable. Vulnerability and grievability also factor in reproductive ethics. This essay employs recognition theory to analyze critically how these notions are mobilized in conservative Christian anti-abortion writings and in feminist philosophy. This analysis exposes weaknesses and misrecognition in both sets of discourses. In response, I offer theological arguments for recognizing fetal value without implying a right to life and for acknowledging how human finitude and the precarity of pregnancy render gestational hospitality a discretionary, not obligatory, moral act.