Beating Hearts: Abortion & Animal Rights -- Now Available

by Sherry Colb & Michael Dorf 

Regular readers of this blog are undoubtedly by now well aware (indeed, sick of hearing) that we have a book forthcoming on abortion and animal rights. As of today, the book is no longer forthcoming. It's available for purchase at the Columbia University Press website, online retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and bricks-and-mortar bookstores. (The "official" publication date is March 6, 2016, but the book can be purchased and ships now.)

When we have told people about the book, we have sometimes been met with puzzlement. What do these topics have to do with one another? It's as though we have announced that we wrote a book on apple sauce and windmills.

Beating Hearts connects abortion and animal rights because, as we explain in the Introduction, both the pro-life movement and the animal rights movement challenge conventional understandings about the role that humanity--the fact of belonging to the human species--properly plays in assessments of moral worth. As we write: "people in the pro-life movement regard humanity as a sufficient condition for moral rights; people in the animal rights movement contend that humanity is not a necessary condition for moral rights."

The book also draws connections between the strategic and tactical questions faced by the pro-life and animal rights movements. When are incremental strategies helpful? Do gory images (of mangled fetuses or slaughterhouses) win hearts and minds or merely turn people off? Given the high stakes, how can people in each movement who oppose violence argue against the use of violence? And so forth.

Beating Hearts is an academic book in the sense that we evaluate arguments regardless of where they lead. We try very hard not to be polemical and to state positions with which we disagree fairly. Although the book aims to reconcile animal rights with a pro-choice position on abortion, we credit arguments that aim to show the immorality of abortion of sentient fetuses. We think that if we have done our job well, the book will in places make people who share our bottom line uncomfortable.

We hold out hope that Beating Hearts is not simply an academic book. Our discussion ranges over controversial topics in philosophy, law, sociology, and various other academic disciplines. However, we assume no specialized knowledge of the reader.

If you enjoy what you read from each of us here on the blog, in our Verdict columns, and/or our various academic writings, we now shamelessly urge you to buy the book.