Health Care Analysis

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 229-246

First online:

Towards a Feminist Global Bioethics: Addressing Women's Health Concerns Worldwide

  • Rosemarie TongAffiliated withUNC-Charlotte

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In this paper I argue that a global bioethicsis possible. Specifically, I present the viewthat there are within feminist approaches tobioethics some conceptual and methodologicaltools necessary to forge a bioethics thatembraces the health-related concerns of bothdeveloping and developed nations equally. Tosupport my argument I discuss some of thechallenges that have historically confrontedfeminists. If feminists accept the idea thatwomen are entirely the same, then feministspresent as fact the fiction of the essential``Woman.'' Not only does ``Woman'' not exist,``she'' obscures important racial, ethnic,cultural, and class differences among women. However, if feminists stress women'sdifferences too much, feminists lose the powerto speak coherently and cogently about genderjustice, women's rights, and sexual equality ingeneral. Analyzing the ways in which the ideaof difference as well as the idea of samenesshave led feminists astray, I ask whether it ispossible to avoid the Scylla of absolutism(imperialism, colonialism, hegemony) on the onehand and the Charybdis of relativism(postmodernism, fragmentation, Balkanization)on the other. Finally, after reflecting uponthe work of Uma Narayan, Susan Muller Okin, andMartha Nussbaum, I conclude that there is a wayout of this ethical bind. By focusing onwomen's, children's, and men's common humanneeds, it is possible to lay thefoundation for a just and caring globalbioethics.

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