What does a mother owe her unborn child? Does it change if she never wanted that child? Does it matter how viable that child would be at this moment outside of the womb?

Ahead of the oral arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, liberal feminist Jill Filipovic went on Twitter and responded to an anti-abortion column by Ross Douthat. If unborn babies are people, as Douthat believes, then a mother ought to have the right to simply expel the tiny person and leave her to her own devices, Filipovic suggested.

Perhaps sensing how cruel it sounds to say of a baby, “Let it be,” Filipovic in a later tweet added that someone might want to care for the baby, but we ought to “take women out of it.”

New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg sounded a similar note, “The central question in the abortion debate is not whether a fetus is a person, but whether a woman is. People, in our society, generally do not have their bodies appropriated by the state,” Goldberg wrote.

Goldberg quoted feminist writer Ellen Willis: “You can’t make a case against abortion by applying a general principle about everybody’s human rights; you have to show exactly the opposite — that the relationship between fetus and pregnant woman is an exception, one that justifies depriving women of their right to bodily integrity.”

These abortion defenders posit that the anti-abortion argument denies pregnant women their humanity. I posit that these abortion defenders have an erroneous understanding of humanity. Humans are not properly considered as free-floating atomized bundles of autonomy. Rather, we are social animals with inalienable rights and duties to others.

The feminist philosophy articulated above is not notable for asserting women’s equality. The feminist philosophy deployed in defense of abortion is extraordinary for positing that nobody has a duty to care for a person in need.

More precisely, it’s the view that there is no individual duty to care for the needy. And you can see this belief sprouting up all over the Left’s agenda these days. For a moment, though, let’s return, along with Filipovic’s tweet, to a sort of college-philosophy-class discussion of abortion.

Filipovic lobs the idea of delivering a zygote and leaving it to its own fate. It’s a radically individualistic ethic: You leave me alone, I leave you alone, and that’s the extent of it.

Let me posit another scenario: Imagine if Jill Filipovic were on a cruise ship that sunk. She survives but ends up on a remote island. The only other passenger who washed ashore was a heavily injured Ross Douthat, who is so hurt that he can't walk or even crawl.

A Christian here would say that Filipovic has a duty to help keep Douthat alive until rescue arrives. Why is Filipovic alone charged with this duty? Because she’s the only one in a position to care for Douthat.

Christian teaching here is not implicit but explicit. The two great commandments are to love God and to love one's neighbor, as Jesus affirmed with the famous story of the good Samaritan.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denari and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”

Jesus then asked the scholar, as an answer to the scholar’s question, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The tale is supposed to broaden our idea of who is our neighbor, but the answer isn’t “EVERYONE! EVERYONE is your neighbor!” Jesus’s answer is more properly understood as, “Anyone could be your neighbor. Your neighbor is whoever is physically present to you and in need. That is the person whom you are bound to care for."

When it comes to the unborn, it turns out that the person uniquely positioned to care for the baby is, 100% of the time, a woman. One could object that this is unfair, but it’s hard to swallow that this inequality imposed by nature is a good reason to abandon one's duty to others.

This is a broader thing than just abortion. Increasingly, Democrats, while having a more expansive notion of the collective duty to care for the needy, are attacking the idea of an individual duty to care.

The argument underlying these views is that it’s wrong to expect someone to care for their own children or parent. By positing an individual duty to care, you are imposing upon individuals — and disproportionately upon women!

In this light, the pro-choice, individualistic, autonomy-centered feminist defenses of abortion jibe perfectly with some aspects of liberal policies: Transfer the duty to care over to the state, in part to relieve yourself of any individual responsibility to love our neighbor.