Volume 16 Issue 2, October 2023, pp. pp. 26-45


This article focuses on a resonant debate initiated by the publication of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s groundbreaking article “On Defense of Abortion” in 1971. It is my contention that philosophers who argued against Thomson based on what has come to be called the “Responsibility Objection” did not fully examine the gender assumptions embedded in their logic. Rather than attempt to prove the flaw in the Responsibility Objection directly, I demonstrate it by applying the same logic used to discuss women’s responsibilities to men to prove that it also supports forcing men to get a vasectomy. What I show is that the Responsibility Objection, when no longer clothed in a set of gendered assumptions, is not logically convincing. Further, given that the Responsibility Objection supports the logic the U.S. Supreme Court recently relied on in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health in overruling Roe vs. Wade, the examination of the flaws in this logic is timely and important.