Feminism, modernity, and the new mudsill theory

The news back in August that the state of Texas has outlawed abortion post-fetal heartbeat is welcome. I don’t entirely agree with the drawing of the line at a fetal heartbeat (or viability, or pain) understands the matter completely but I welcome it nonetheless as a step forward in the development of premises that when fully acknowledged and appreciated can only but end where justice demands.

However, that is not the point of this post. Here, I simply what to address what is intimated above, and that is that a women, unless she retains the right to kill her child in the womb, cannot and can never be free. This appears to be a signal principle of present-day feminism and the analogy I want to draw is between this claim and a view put forth by anti-abolitionists in the mid-19th under the heading of mudsill theory.

This theory purported that civilization must always depend upon a base class (the mudsill) that labours on behalf of all other classes above them and upon which these classes rest. Now, the unborn child does not ‘labour’ on behalf of the other classes here, what it does, through its sacrifice, is perpetuate the ‘civilization’ of the other classes. This isn’t just feminism, more broadly, it is the economic and social relations of modernity, i.e. mass participation in the workforce, ‘childcare’, ‘at-will’ divorce, extended adolescence, and the like, which all partly depend upon the free availability of abortion. This class of persons in its earliest stages of development is to be treated, under the new dispensation, as a class beyond the protection of the law, and it is for a time entirely dependent on the caprice of its parents, in order to fortify the economic and social relations upon which modernity rest. Thus, the promoters of abortion argue, just as the ‘freedom’ of women, and modern life, more broadly, depends upon its availability, they are to that extent, no different to the defenders of slavery who completely elided the moral status of the slave (as Caro does above the child in utero) and simply focused on their own alleged rights as slave-owner or beneficiary. In fact, they also treat the unborn child/ slave as chattel; to be treated or disposed of as they see fit.