Words lost, words found: maternity, bioethics and citizenship

Emilia D'Antuono


Pondering bioethics means pondering freedom, autonomy and self-determination on the basis of a nomos that has nothing in common with unrestrained will, a nomos that permits no disparity. Complex problems concerning the “beginning of life” can be resolved on the basis of women’s awareness that the wish to bear a child cannot be compared to other desires, and that the experience of pregnancy takes place in a unique and peculiar dimension, namely, a woman’s psycho-physical reality. Crucial for understanding this difference is the splitting of the unitary process of pregnancy involving both the woman and the embryo. Since the nineteenth century, the conflict between the Catholic Church and science over decisions between the mother’s health and the fetus has deepened and stigmatized the splitting of pregnancy. The Catholic Church and science have promoted the dangerous idea that ethics are deduced from “truths” considered separate from historicity.


body; maternity; science; unborn

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