The moral aesthetics of compulsory ultrasound viewing and the theological future of abortion
(2019) Studies in Christian Ethics, 32 (1), pp. 78-87.
By law, women seeking abortions in some US states must undergo compulsory ultrasound viewing. This article examines the moral significance of this practice, especially as understood by pro-life religious groups, in light of Foucault’s recently published lectures on ‘The Will to Know’ and the place of the aesthetic. How does the larger abortion-debate strategy of ‘showing’ and ‘seeing’ images—whether of living or dead fetuses—work as an aesthetic form of argument that intends to evoke a moral response in the absence of reason-giving? The article draws on recent, parallel debates regarding disgust before concluding with a theological response to the priority of will over knowledge and vision over action as commentary on the future of abortion debate and law, especially in the United States. © The Author(s) 2018.
Abortion; Disgust; Foucault; MacIntyre; Moral aesthetics; Visual bioethics