My apologies for not posting Wednesday–it’s been hectic. And yes, I’m talking about abortion.
As everyone who reads this blog probably knows, the Texas state legislature recently passed legislation that severely restricted both the sale of abortion services and their acquirement.
As you might be able to guess, this does not fill me with tears and woe. I’ve heard most of the arguments against such restrictions, and they don’t hold up very well. Many of the arguments focus on the motives of the restrictors, which I covered earlier here: https://thesoapboxguild.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/getting-snowed. Most of the others seem to forget things like adoption. I also refuse to consider statements like “You’ll never be pregnant, so you have no right to speak” to be legitimate argument—largely because it is a curious fact that no one talking about abortion will ever be in a position where they can be aborted.
The only really compelling arguments for circumstances in which elective abortion should be legal can be found in the question of what to do with children resulting from cases of rape and incest. As to these, I am unaware of any current laws that allow executing children for the crimes of their fathers.
I do not include “life of the mother” in this because, as far as I know, all such cases also involve the death of the child if nothing is done. That’s not elective abortion, that’s choosing whether to let two people die or kill one person. Now, you’d better make right sure that two people will die if you don’t kill one before you kill the one, but I’m not willing to make someone die to save someone who probably won’t live anyway. Also, I think that if you at least try to save the kid, then it counts as inducing premature birth.
Which brings me to the question of this thing called “bodily autonomy,” which I ran across during a Facebook debate. Yes, occasionally those are more than just wastes of time. The argument runs as follows: A. Your body is yours; B. No one has the right to use your body without your consent. When used by those who want to see elective abortion remain legal, this is then followed by: C. An unborn child uses a woman’s body to live; Therefore, D. a woman has the right to evict the resident whenever she chooses.
Let me lay out my cards here. I don’t believe in bodily autonomy, but rather the imago Dei as the basis for my opposition to things like slavery, etc. That deserves a blog post in and of itself, but my point here is to say that I may not understand this as well as someone who believes in the notion.
That being said, I think I understand what the concept’s purpose is. It’s a way to have a purely secular argument against things like slavery and such, and I get that. However, even the concept of bodily autonomy really doesn’t explain why elective abortion in all circumstances should be legal.
First, it’s a misapplication of the principle. The intent of the idea is to prevent other people from intentionally exploiting other people. Forgive me from generalizing from experience here, but when I was conceived, no one asked me if I wanted to be conceived at all, much less whose Fallopian tube I wanted to be conceived in. In other words, the unborn child has not chosen to use the womb it is residing in. Saying that the unborn child is an intruder that may be killed is kind of like saying that I have the right to kill someone if another person kidnaps them, ties them hand and foot and gags them, and then throws them into my house.
Not only that, but it’s not like the unborn one in this situation is simply using the womb for their convenience. They’re literally dependent on the thing. Given the choice, if they could choose, they would be out of there and living.
Side note: One complaint I heard during the aforementioned debate was that such restrictions mean that the unborn have greater rights than their mothers. Yeah, right. The only right they have that they can even sort of use is the right to live. Liberty? Tethered by a literal umbilical cord and stuck inside a space that is maybe a foot square. Pursuit of happiness? See above.
And if you want to get into the Bill of Rights, as near as I can tell, the only right the unborn can actually use that’s in there is the one about no one being “deprived of their life…save by due process of law.” And no one seems to be proposing that women don’t have a right to live.
Secondly, on this argument, let’s talk about the one unborn for a moment, I mean, sure they don’t speak–or, for that matter, really think. But, well, they’re human, right? Doesn’t that mean they might get some say as to what they want done with their bodies? Well, since they can’t have a say in the matter, seeing as they don’t talk or anything, maybe we should err on the side of not killing them.
All of this having been said, there are certain arguments that can be made for abortion, such as lower crime rates, not making unwanted children suffer (a curious argument, since their existence is being cut off, but I digress), and the amelioration of various other social ills. Two things: Almost all of these could be solved via other means, and it is also true that said social ills could be fixed by killing all the poor, sick, abused, and/or physically/mentally unhealthy people. No one is proposing this because everyone knows it’s wrong.
In other words, this isn’t even a wolf by the ears, folks, much less “a good, a positive good!”
‘Til next time,
Lowell Van Ness